Thomas Hatton: Bridging Two Cultures
“Working with the migrant community helped me realize there was an urgent need in the United States for bilingual people to reach out and help those in need.”
When Thomas Hatton ’12 faces his students each day, he is thankful for the diverse courses he was able to take while at Transylvania. As a GED instructor for migrant workers and their families, he teaches high school-level classes in math, science, social studies, reading, and grammar—all in Spanish.
His employer, the Kentucky Center for Family and Community Services, sponsors the local High School Equivalency Program (HEP), an initiative of the U.S. Department of Education to help migratory and seasonal farmworkers obtain the equivalent of a high school diploma. The ultimate goal is to ensure these workers have stable employment opportunities or can pursue postsecondary education or training.
Now that he understands the myriad ways he can help migrant workers in this country, Hatton has decided to complete post-graduate studies in education rather than in Spanish. Thanks to his Latin American and Caribbean Studies minor, he brings to his job a broad understanding of the history and culture of the people he is working with and how their history is tied to the history of the United States.
Hatton also appreciates the depth of study that Transylvania offers in Spanish literature and culture. “I began preparing my junior year to go to grad school in Spanish. As I glanced through the reading lists of top universities, I noticed that I had already read most of the books in my Transylvania classes.
“I also feel like the Spanish program does a great job at combining language with history and culture. I learned from my professors that to truly understand literature, you have to first understand the society that produced it.”
Hatton is quick to repudiate any stereotypes of college professors as self-absorbed or standoffish. “The Spanish department is staffed with some of the kindest, most insightful, and wisest people I know. The professors are all willing to go the extra mile to make sure their students succeed.”