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TEC Student of the Month Award

March 2022 - Faith Donnally

Since beginning to take classes at Tierra a year and a half ago, Faith has shown us her through-the-roof level of motivation with a perfect attendance record, creative and thoughtful responses to homework assignments, and always active participation in class. She has an analytical eye, frequently raising questions that help the class discover the subtleties of the Spanish structures they are studying. In her work at an ophthalmology clinic, she has the opportunity to greet Spanish-speaking patients in their native language and is eager to continue expanding her skills to be able to communicate with these patients on all matters. First motivated to learn Spanish by a desire to interact with locals while traveling, she is about to travel to Mexico, her first trip since becoming a Spanish student, and is excitedly preparing to use the skills she’s picked up. We are honored to count Faith among our Tierra community and look forward to continuing to see her work towards and achieve her dreams of fluency.


February 2022 - Mary O’Hearn

Endlessly enthusiastic about her Spanish studies, Mary has made great progress over the past 2+ years that she’s been taking twice-weekly classes with Tierra. A retired physician, she is engaged in community work with the Spanish-speaking community and has a deep interest in expanding her cultural, as well as linguistic, knowledge. A lover of travel and nature, she recently went on an immersion trip to Spain where she chose to stay in small villages in the mountains, soaking up the Spanish classes and abundant opportunities to practice her language skills as well as spectacular landscapes. Mary exudes joy and generosity in her interactions with her classmates and approaches challenges in the language learning process with open-minded wonder. We are honored to have Mary as part of our amazing student community and look forward to continuing to see her leap past her goals.

December 2021 - Amanda Matlin

An extremely dedicated student, Amanda began her studies at Tierra back in 2017 in the Beginner 2 level, and over the years has built up her Spanish skills to reach an advanced level of fluidity. Initially motivated to expand her Spanish skills by volunteer work she did building houses in El Salvador, her passion for providing all with safe shelter motivated her to find work at a local non-profit providing vital services to houseless people in Portland. She applies her blossoming Spanish skills when interacting with Spanish-speakers in her work and volunteer projects and is a wonderful example of someone who’s chosen to dedicate her talents to improving the lives of others. In Spanish class she’s a kind and encouraging classmate who always participates actively in class and makes her Spanish studies an important priority in her life. We are honored to count Amanda as part of our community at Tierra and look forward to continuing to witness her impressive progress in Spanish and inspiring work in our wider community.

October 2021 - Ron Sklar

A student who is remarkably dedicated to his Spanish studies, when one gets to know Ron one realizes that this dedication is actually not limited to his fascination with language but something he applies to all areas of his life. An avid runner, he often shows up for his 9am class beaming, having already gotten in his run (one wonders if it could be possible to bottle his energy). As a pediatrician, his primary motivation to gain Spanish skills was to be able to communicate with Spanish-speaking families. Now semi-retired, he continues to volunteer as a pediatrician and in vaccination drives, still using his language skills to bridge the gap and help those seeking care to feel comfortable and valued. In class he is always fully invested in whatever topic is being discussed and contributes to creating a playful atmosphere where classmates enjoy a sense of camaraderie and together discover the complexities of the Spanish language. We are honored to count Ron as part of our community at Tierra and look forward to continuing to delve into the deep questions in his company.

September 2021 | Julie Romberg

Having started her studies  at Tierra a little over two years ago in a Beginner 2 course, Julie has demonstrated impressive dedication, going to great lengths to develop her skills and achieving a higher intermediate level. A lover of language and travel with an authentic desire to engage with the Spanish-speaking community, she’s involved in her local community and taken study abroad immersion trips to Mexico and Guatemala. The real inspiration she provides is in her lack of fear in approaching learning Spanish; there is no challenge, whether understanding the complexity of nuanced grammar structures or navigating the technical aspects of online courses, that can deter her. Always expressing kindness and warmth to her classmates, Julie embodies the community-minded spirit we aim to cultivate at Tierra and we are honored to count her among our student community.


July 2021 - Vicki Jean Beauchamp

Wholeheartedly dedicated to her Spanish studies, Vicki has made impressive progress in one year of studies at Tierra! It is no surprise that she is a retired librarian, her love of language and learning is palpable. Passionate about travel and having enjoyed trips numerous to Mexico, during this pandemic time of non-travel she continues to immerse herself in cultural learning, whether it’s following Mexican cooking and cultural video channels, watching movies and listening to music in Spanish, or reading articles in Spanish. She delights in applying the knowledge gained in her classes to these authentic materials, a great example of what can be achieved with hard work and creative methods of practice. A kind and empathetic classmate, she is always encouraging of her classmates and contributes to creating an environment of camaraderie. We are honored to count Vicki as part of Tierra community and look forward to continuing to see her spread her wings, practicing her Spanish skills near and far.

June 2021 - Jay Wellik

Passionate about his work as a volcanologist, Jay embarked on his Spanish learning journey for his job as it requires him to interact with partners across Latin America. He first became a student at Tierra when we offered an on-site course at the US Geological Survey in Vancouver. Since then, he has invested countless hours in his Spanish studies, mostly in private lessons through which he’s been able to acquire both general conversation skills and technical vocabulary related to his work. An inquisitive and hard-working student, Jay’s scientific mind naturally seeks the deepest understanding; he probes to uncover the logic of Spanish grammar. Unphased by challenges, he demonstrates tenacity and great determination in his quest for Spanish fluency. Fun fact - he’s also studied Indonesian in order to communicate with partners in Indonesia, it would be hard to find someone more passionate about language and volcanos! It is an honor for us to count Jay as part of our Tierra community and we look forward to continuing to see him turning his goals into reality.

May 2021 - Kathy Casson

An adventurous spirit who’s passionate about scuba diving, dragon boat rowing, and travel among other things, Kathy’s natural optimism and patience have helped her make great achievements in her Spanish studies. Beginning with no Spanish skills four years ago, Kathy and her partner Sheila took on this challenge together and have been dedicated to honing their Spanish skills ever since. Kind and empathetic, Kathy is a fantastic classmate who listens attentively and contributes to creating a comfortable learning enviornment for all. Acting on her interest in using her Spanish skills to do service work, she participated last year in a trip to Guatemala with a group providing dental care and education. Kathy’s endless enthusiasm and curiosity are an inspiration and she is a model of how to live the retired life with purpose and never stop learning. We are honored to count Kathy as part of our community at Tierra and look forward to continuing to see her defy any limits and take on life (and Spanish) with zest.


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