Hunter Stabile, a pre-med student studying both Spanish and Biopsychology, Cognition, and Neuroscience (BCN), uses both his majors to gain a broader perspective and understanding of how behaviors are shaped by cultural influence. His work in RLL has helped him find himself and what he is truly passionate about.
“When I first arrived at U-M, I thought I knew exactly who I was and what I wanted to do with my life,” Hunter said. “Within the first semester, my plans “blew up” and I accepted defeat as I decided I wasn’t smart enough to become a physician. During this rut, I chose to continue taking Spanish classes because I naturally enjoyed them.”
More recently, Hunter has come to find more community-based connections on campus that have inspired him to follow through with his original goal: to pursue a career in medicine. Once he finally switched back onto the pre-med track, he said he knew he wasn’t in a rush and wanted to do what felt right. Hunter decided to expand his education into a fifth year so he could appropriately spread his time not only between his two majors, but also the organizations that he is heavily involved with: Global Surgery Student Alliance (Director of Membership), MUSIC Matters (Big Thinkers’ Scholarship Project Manager), and Delta Epsilon Mu (Wellness Chair).
“In the Fall of my sophomore year, I was very lost regarding what I would study,” Hunter said. “I remember thinking back to my experiences in Spanish 232 earlier that year- I genuinely enjoyed the class and I loved expanding my perspective of the LGTBQIA+ community from an intersectional standpoint. When it eventually came time to register for winter classes, what really pushed me into taking Spanish 277 to continue the major track was reminding myself how much I loved taking Spanish in high school.”
What Hunter finds so special about the RLL department is that every teacher cares so deeply about students truly understanding the material. He said that in every Spanish class he has taken here, each teacher has made an effort to get to know him and ensure that he is not worried about solely obtaining a good grade, but rather actually learning something from their lessons. Hunter’s favorite class was Spanish 291: Introduction to Catalan Language and Culture. He said before taking this class, he simply thought Catalan was a Spanish dialect.
“Come to find out, it’s actually an entirely different language heavily influenced by Latin and Spanish,” Hunter said. “After falling in love with the Catalan culture, I enrolled in Spanish 405: Advanced Catalan Studies. This class, consisting of me and 5 peers, was such an intimate and thoughtful dive into Catalunya’s many festivities and beautiful history.”
Outside of the classroom, knowing Spanish has greatly helped Hunter in his pre-med journey. He has used his knowledge to work with non-English speaking patients at the hospital or on the ambulance as an EMT. While taking Spanish 283: Spanish for Medical Professions, Hunter had the chance to increase his exposure with formal interpretation in medical settings. He wants to continue to enhance his skills, as he believes mistakes in medical interpretation can be very harmful to those who are supposed to be aided in the process.
“Seeking medical attention can obviously feel very isolating and scary, especially for those who do not speak English,” Hunter said. “It can make such a difference to not only be able to speak with these patients, but to even have increased awareness of what they might be feeling.”
After finishing his fifth year at U-M, Hunter plans to take a gap year before ultimately attending medical school. Though he is currently unsure of what this gap year will consist of, it is important for him to continuously increase his knowledge of and exposure to different communities and cultures around the world.
“Instead of being set on a specific specialty that I want to pursue, I’ve found that I really enjoy quality of life medicine – and part of increasing one’s quality of life definitely includes the quality of care that patients receive,” Hunter said. “That being said, it is a clear, resounding “Absolutely!” when someone asks if I think my Spanish degree will ever be helpful in my path to becoming a physician.”
“It’s not every day that I get the opportunity to spread a message through this platform, so I would like to take this opportunity to give a shoutout to a teacher who has made a very significant impact on my undergraduate experience: Thank you so much, Susanna! I have been really fortunate to have Susanna Coll-Ramírez as a teacher and mentor for three consecutive semesters, and it means a lot to me that her door is always open for check-ins and great conversations.”