Wanderlust and Stellar Standing of RCS Fuels Journey to MSU

March 21, 2016

portrait of a man with short dark brown hair, he is wearing glasses and a gray sweater over a plaid button-up

At age 29, Alejandro (Alex) Osorio-Hernandez is already an accomplished international graduate student and traveler. But then, with a B.A., two M.A.s—one each from universities on two different continents—and scholarly research interests covering medieval travel writing, Spanish travelers to the Holy Land, and medieval monasticism, it sort of goes with the territory.

Currently an MSU Ph.D. student and teacher in the Department of Romance and Classical Studies, Osorio-Hernandez was raised in Malcocinado, Spain, a small town of less than 500 people located 80 miles north of Seville.

“In high school, I applied to eight colleges and was accepted by five, including the very famous University of Salamanca,” he said. “There, I earned a B.A. in English Language and Literature and an M.A. in TESOL (Teaching English as a Second Language). I also studied History and English language, learned to speak Persian, and lived two months in Iran.”

By the time he graduated, the world recession had driven Spain’s unemployment levels above 25 percent. And while undergraduate education is quite affordable in Spain, graduate school is expensive. A former high school teacher suggested he apply to graduate school in the United States.

“As a result, I came to America in August 2012,” Osorio-Hernandez said. “In May 2014, I earned my second M.A. in Spanish Literature from the University of Mississippi and received the 2014 Graduate Student Achievement Award. This was the first time in my life I achieved something so important.”

He applied to MSU, in large part due to the outstanding reputation of its Department of Romance and Classical Studies, and was accepted.

“I began my Ph.D. program in Hispanic Cultural Studies in August 2014,” he said. “Today, I’m proud to say I am a Ph.D. student and a teacher in RCS. My main areas of interest are Medieval and Golden Age Literature of Spain.”

As for how MSU compares with the other two universities he’s attended, he said its size can sometimes be daunting, but he encourages all students to engage and get involved.“MSU is the largest university I’ve attended, and there are many foreign students here,” he said. “It may seem, at first, that you’re on your own. But, if you make the effort to engage with faculty and other students, I think you’ll like the results.”

As for the future, Osorio-Hernandez is confident about his career path.

photo of a man using hand gestures while presenting someone on a monitor behind him

“I absolutely see myself teaching at a university, but high school would be fine, too,” he said. “My comprehensive exams are next fall, and I defend my dissertation in two years. I’ve been doing well in my coursework, so I feel I’ll definitely be ready.”

As for the College of Arts & Letters faculty, he said Professor Nancy Marino has been excellent in Medieval Studies, as has Associate Professor Tony Grubbs with the Renaissance. He also says Associate Professor Miguel Cabañas and Associate Professor Joseba Gabilondo have been great to work with and learn from at MSU.

Osorio-Hernandez has similar praise for the City of East Lansing.

“While East Lansing is small, it is not too small,” he said. “I like that we are close to Detroit and its airport as well as Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor. Even Chicago is an easy drive away.”

He added that he loves to travel whenever and wherever he can and has already been to 38 countries and several U.S. states including California, Nevada, Colorado, Wyoming, and the Grand Canyon in Arizona.

“Whether my love of travel sparked my research interests in medieval tavel writing and Spanish travelers to the Holy Land, or the other way around,” he said, “I’m truly glad my journey has taken me to MSU.”