Margaret Rote Sees Spanish as Gateway to Her Life Plans

Senior Margaret Rote said no matter what career she chooses, she will be able to use the Spanish skills that she refined at Duke.

Rote said her upbringing in Dallas, Texas, heavily influenced her decision to major in Spanish. “A lot of signs at stores and in the city are written in English and Spanish,” she said. “I do a lot of community service in hispanic neighborhoods, and I knew I wanted to continue improving my speaking abilities when I got to college.”

She is also majoring in neuroscience and minoring in philosophy.During Rote’s junior year, she studied abroad in Madrid throughthe Duke in Madrid program.

“The Duke in Madrid program is really structured and involves a lot of travel throughout other cities in Spain,” she said. “I got a really good sense of what living in another country would be like. I learned how different regions of Spain function.”

While in Madrid, Rote took courses at a Spanish university where her classmates were native Spaniards, rather than primarily Americans. She added that she hopes to return to Spain after she graduates to teach English.

Although Rote does not consider herself fluent in Spanish, she said she can comfortably have conversations with people.

During the past summer, Rote used her Spanish extensively while working as a nanny. The family she worked for had a housekeeper who did not speak any English, and she helped translate for them. The family also bought a home in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, and asked for Rote’s assistance in interpreting the housing and tax forms that were written in Spanish.

Rote said her favorite class at Duke has been a Spanish linguistics course that she took during her first semester in college.

“It was so interesting to learn about the different dialects depending on the Spanish country and being able to use linguistics and the phonetic sounds,” she said. “That really broadened my understanding of the language just jumping in to college.”

Aside from her Spanish experiences, Rote is involved in bioethics research through the Duke Science & Technology, a unit derived from the former Duke Institute of Genome Sciences & Policy.

“I did some research looking at noninvasive prenatal testing in the developing world and seeing what legal consequences exist for implementing the technology there,” she said. “It’s more like what I'm interested in long-term.”

Rote hopes to pursue a joint law and master’s degree in bioethics, because she is interested in the interaction between emerging technology and science policy and law.

She is also president of the club that volunteers at the Ronald McDonald House of Durham, and visits the house twice a week to play bingo and do arts-and-crafts with the kids. Rote has been involved with Ronald McDonald House Charities since high school.