Maddie Peddicord, a senior Spanish major, has had a busy year as a student in the Latin American and Latino/a Studies (LALS) minor.

After taking  Professor Maura Toro-Morn’s Introduction to Latin American and Latino/a Studies course (SOC 109) last fall, Peddicord quickly declared the LALS minor and became a teaching assistant for the course the following semester. During this time, Peddicord was also an active member of Sigma Delta Pi, the National Collegiate Hispanic Honor Society, where she took part in community projects that allowed her to practice speaking Spanish. This semester, Peddicord has taken her studies abroad to Granada, Spain, where she continues to polish her Spanish speaking and explore all the opportunities that await her after graduation.

In between her classes and adventures while studying abroad, Peddicord was able to share her experience in the minor with us as our November Student Spotlight. Check out our interview to learn about how her studies here have impacted her experience abroad and why she wants you to join the Latin American and Latino/a Studies minor!

Latin American and Latino/a Studies: Tell me about yourself. Where are you from? What do you like to do?

Maddie Peddicord: “I’m from Plainfield, Illinois. It’s a happy little suburb that borders Naperville. I love being with my friends, turning my music up loud, making a mess in the kitchen, chillaxing on the quad, traveling, volunteering, taking long walks through Target and binge watching Netflix with carry out Chipotle…but whatever I’m up to you can probably guess that my best friend and roommate isn’t too far behind me.”

LALS: What inspired you to declare the Latin American and Latino/a Studies minor?

MP: “My first inclination to the minor was the result of taking Dr. Maura Toro-Morn’s Introduction to Latin American and Latino/a Studies course in Fall 2016. It was my favorite class that semester. I found it to be so relevant and it really resonated with me and where my heart is for Spanish. I’ve also had the opportunity to go on Dr. James Pancrazio’s Spanish 244 field trip to Little Village in Chicago. That was also a great validating experience that compelled me to direct my education in Spanish toward the Latinx community in Chicago. I definitely feel like the LALS minor will serve as a great tool in my future with Spanish.”

LALS: In what ways has declaring a Latin American and Latino/a Studies minor complimented your study of Spanish? Would you recommend this plan of study to other students? If yes, why?

MP: “LALS has so obviously complimented my study of Spanish. By studying Latinx culture and history, I have learned so much about how rich and beautifully complex it is and how it enhances humanity. I am constantly recommending SOC 109, SPA 244, and the LALS minor. I feel like anything like this—anything that makes you think, that opens your mind, softens your heart— is worth sharing. The LALS minor goes beyond facts, dates, charts, and data; it’s relevant to real world stuff. I think that’s the kind of stuff every student hopes for in their university experience. LALS is so complimentary to so many of the majors here at ISU. It’s been an invaluable experience that I will definitely carry with me into the next stage of life and I wouldn’t want anyone to miss out on it.”

LALS: Currently, you are studying abroad in Spain. What has this experience been like so far? How has your Spanish major and Latin American and Latino/a Studies minor impacted your experience?

MP: “Spain is absolutely incredible. Granada where I’m studying is a beautiful historic city and I have learned so much about culture, language, people, and even myself. My Spanish major is clearly foundational for the language skills I’m developing while living here. As for the LALS minor, although Spanish culture and Latinx culture are not the same, they both still have a lot of shared history and similarities. Both my major and minor have been great for this experience, and I can’t think of a better way to spend the fall semester of my senior year. I am loving this experience.”

LALS: Have you attended any Latin American and Latino/a Studies Program events? If yes, what was the event and why was it your favorite? What did you gain from the experience?

MP: “Yes, I went to the Fall 2016 Latino Cultural Dinner. There was great music, food, and actress Diane Guerrero from Jane the Virgin and Orange is the New Black came to speak about her experience. I really enjoyed it, and hearing about her experience continued to weave together the narrative of immigration and Latinx youth in the United States for me. I learned a lot from listening to her perspective.”

LALS: What has been your favorite course you have taken for the Latin American and Latino/a Studies minor to date? Why was it your favorite? What did you learn?

MP: “I loved taking Dr. Maura Toro-Morn’s Introduction to Latin American and Latino/a Studies class as a student, but it was a completely different experience partnering with her as a teaching assistant for the class in Spring 2017. It was a unique experience because I continued to learn along with the rest of the class but I also got to learn a lot about students from a different perspective. I really enjoyed it and it has made me consider maybe pursuing a teaching certificate in the near future. Additionally, having Dr. Toro-Morn as a mentor has really made a difference in my time here at ISU and I’m very thankful to have been given the opportunity to be her teaching assistant.”

LALS: What would you tell a student considering declaring the Latin American and Latino/a Studies minor?

MP: “DO IT. Seriously, do it! Some of the Spanish classes can count towards the minor, so you’ve probably already started it. DO IT.”

LALS: What are your goals after graduation?

MP: “I really just want to find myself being part of something bigger. I want to find a career using Spanish every day and I really hope that I can work to help empower Latino families. Also, who knows? Maybe I’ll go back to school? Get my masters? Get a teaching certificate?”

For more information about the minor, please contact Acting Director Juliet Lynd or adviser Janet Claus or see our website at You can apply for the minor directly from your myillinoisstate page.