Graduating with a 4.0 and completing a triple major in Spanish, Economics and Political Science, Ryan Sheets is the December 2021 College of Humanities Outstanding Senior.
He intends to pursue a career that combines his undergraduate passions and skills, working in international development or as a foreign service officer in Latin America to address the root causes of migration.
“My Spanish degree taught me more than a language; it taught me how to put myself in other people’s worlds,” Sheets said to his fellow graduates during his convocation address. “Through the study of language, literature, and culture, we’ve learned not just to value the things that make us human but to relish what makes others human too. Never lose that.”
Outside the classroom, Sheets interned with the International Rescue Committee, worked as a program management associate with USAID’s Partnerships Incubator, and served as a research assistant in the School of Government and Public Policy, analyzing refugee data.
“It's the Humanities that stands above and opens a doorway for understanding the lives of people across oceans, across cultures, and across centuries,” Sheets said.
Sheets’ faculty nominator Kristin Doran, Assistant Professor of Practice and Director of the Spanish Basic Language Program, taught Sheets in two classes.
“Having Mr. Sheets in my classroom twice has allowed me the opportunity to get to know him well and is the reason I can speak to his character, personal growth, and academic abilities. Mr. Sheets is a superior student who stands out as being extremely collaborative, empathetic, analytical, and respectful,” Doran wrote.
Particularly in the Spanish 350 course, Readings in the Literary Genres, Doran said it became clear that Sheets possessed an awareness to diversity, empathy and strong interest and aptitude in world issues.
“The primary literary texts we covered in class had several consistent themes throughout the semester such as social injustice, violence, inequality, and poverty,” Doran wrote. “Mr. Sheets is interested in positively impacting communities and promoting citizenship. I believe his desire to serve others and his excellent undergraduate preparation make him a superior candidate for this award. Simply put, Mr. Sheets is an outstanding student and citizen.”