A Love of the Spanish Language and Its Impact on Recent Alum

Enrolled as a child in a Spanish immersion program, Allie Virginski’s childhood interest in the language blossomed into an integral part of her life, education, and career. 

“Spanish is such a strong part of who I am. I absolutely love it,” she said. “I used to take culture classes when I was younger, and I knew I wanted to continue with Spanish since it was just such an integral part of my life.”

This interest continued to grow when she came to Michigan State University where she majored in Spanish and International Relations and went on to study abroad in Spain.

A girl with dark blonde hair wearing a white dress and a green graduation cap with a gold tassel smiling at the camera.
Allie Virginski at MSU’s Beaumont Tower

Her trip to Spain was her second study abroad, the first was to the United Kingdom. While in Spain, she spent time practicing her second language with other Spanish students and Spanish natives and took classes at the University de Menendez Pelayo. 

“Being immersed in the culture and speaking with native speakers improved my language abilities,” she said. 

As a two-time study abroad student, Virginski jumped at the opportunity to experience a global remote internship during the summer of 2020 when she worked on consumer defense rights as a legal intern for the mid-sized law firm, Richardson & Asociados Abogados, located in Argentina. 

Spanish is such a strong part of who I am. I absolutely love it. I used to take culture classes when I was younger, and I knew I wanted to continue with Spanish since it was just such an integral part of my life.

“I was able to bring what I knew about U.S. laws to them,” she said.

The internship was done entirely in Spanish, which allowed her to continue to practice and build proficiency in the language.

“We’re so much more interconnected than we ever have been, and, because of that, language is so important to be able to communicate with others. It’s also a sign of respect,” Virginski said.

As part of the Global Remote Internship, Virginski had the opportunity to connect with students from around the world. She chatted with students from other schools interning in countries like South Africa and China and heard about experiences from students with different cultures and business practices.

A girl with dark blonde hair wearing sunglasses smiling at the camera. She is sitting at a mosaic-styled colorful bench and the background is a city with European styled buildings and some green bushes.
Allie Virginski studying abroad in Spain.

Interacting and working with cultures that are unfamiliar to her own, Virginski encountered a fresh way to appreciate her time working for a business located abroad. 

“The atmosphere and the people definitely made it fulfilling,” she said. “Getting to connect with different people who have like-minded interests is so fulfilling in itself as well as being able to collaborate on projects and learn from them and grow from others. Sometimes I thought of things that they didn’t, or they thought of things that I didn’t, so being able to bounce those ideas off each other was really helpful.”

During her time at MSU, Virginski was able to explore her many interests, including research, business, and law, to name a few. Along the way, she also learned more about herself.

A woman with light hair wearing a dress and green graduation gown is tossing her green graduation cap. She is standing on the platform to the left of statue of a man.
Allie Virginski

“These different experiences showed me what I’m interested in and what path I want to take in my career,” she said. “I definitely think the experiences taught me a lot about myself, what I’m interested in, my work style, and my personality in general.”

After graduating from MSU in Spring 2021, Virginski has continued to work and learn in her career and still uses her Spanish-speaking skills. She currently is attending the University of Wisconsin – Madison Law School and would like to pursue a career in international law.

“I definitely would like to work abroad because it’s just so interesting to learn about different cultures,” Virginski said, “and I think that learning about different cultures also makes you appreciate your own culture and makes you look at your own culture from a different lens or a new perspective. That has allowed me to grow as a person.”

Written by Kyleigh Meyers-VanDouser