ASU global health student gets an edge through Spanish language

By

Gabriel Sandler

Anastasia Cossette has a busy schedule and a lot of interests. She studies both global health and economic justice, wanting to understand health inequity and medical organization. To give her an edge in these important fields, she turned to the School of International Letters and Cultures at Arizona State University.

“Before I got to college and before I started my major, I volunteered at the women’s center in Tucson for two years … at a postpartum clinic,” Cossette said. “These nurses would come to me to speak with patients who really only spoke Spanish, and I saw that my Spanish was not what it should be to give these women the competency of care they really deserved.”

While her global health major had a language requirement, Cossette went beyond this. Even though she had struggled with language learning before, Cossette dove into the school's Spanish offerings and rapidly improved her skills from high school.

“Learning a language opens you up to viewing the world differently and seeing the world from different perspectives,” Cossette said.

Cossette’s honed sensitivity and ability to communicate in Spanish offered an advantage in her fields of interest, and she found it personally “rewarding to experience the world in another way through language … learning a language gives you skills that apply to a lot of things in life.”

Cossette developed all the transferable skills that come with better communication. It broadened her career interests and made her more essential in volunteer work.

At the School of International Letters and Cultures, Cossette appreciated the small class sizes and that many of the professors were native Spanish speakers.

“You had to speak in Spanish, not speaking wasn’t really an option,” Cossette said. “But it was a really caring, considerate environment. It really helped my listening skills.”

Cossette sees a world that is quickly globalizing, and wants to work at the international level either in medicine, law or advocacy, using her Spanish to connect with a huge demographic.

Cossette aspires to be “someone who advocates for communities and their health,” she said. “Finding a way to speak cross-culturally and understand and relate cross-culturally will be incredibly important.”