Will Case, B.A. 2000

Associate Provost for Student Success, Converse University – Spartanburg, SC

2000 Major: Spanish and Chemistry

How has being a graduate from Duke's Romance Studies Department helped shape you personally and/or professionally?

"As I tell students today, one of the greatest experiences I had at Duke was the opportunity to study abroad in Madrid. I participated in the Summer 1999 Duke-in-Madrid program, and I made some of my closest friends as a result of the experience. That experience would not have been possible had I not pursued a major in Spanish (mainly because my parents would not have let me go). Additionally, I'm fortunate to have had the opportunity to double major and take advantage of the hallmark of a liberal arts education - the exploration of knowledge. I was also fortunate to have a role model in Yvonne Fuentes. She was my professor for numerous Spanish courses between 1997-2000. I know she is no longer at Duke, but her mentorship and excellence in teaching have given me wisdom and insight that I utilize in my administrative position today.

"I double majored in chemistry and Spanish. When I came to Duke I knew I wanted to major in chemistry ; Spanish was a very happy accident and, in large part, can be attributed to Yvonne Fuentes. I found that 18th century Spanish literature connected well with the sciences as authors tried to appeal to the heart through the mind. When I graduated from Duke I was actually on the fence as to whether I wanted to pursue graduate studies in chemistry or Spanish. I ultimately chose chemistry, and my Ph.D advisor was actually one of my professors from my undergraduate years. Linda McGown in chemistry and Yvonne Fuentes + Miguel Garci-Gomez in Spanish are role models that I respect and admire. They have shaped my career trajectory in very positive ways."

What advice would you give students in Duke's Romance Studies programs?

"My advice is to study abroad and take advantage of the opportunity to pursue more than one major. The Duke curriculum provides flexibility to pursue multiple areas of interest, and I'm thankful I persisted in Spanish when I was an undergrad. I would encourage students to find a strong mentor who can help advise one's path towards personal and professional success. I would also encourage students not to back away from a challenge. I was raised in South Carolina and, although I don't have a thick accent, I had to practice a lot to ensure my Spanish could be comprehended. : ) Studying Spanish provided a novel, yet equally challenging, experience to studying chemistry."

Will Case