In the Spotlight: Austin Bath, Spanish Minor and 2013 Leader of the Pack

Austin Bath, 2013 Leader of the Pack

Austin Bath, 2013 Leader of the Pack wearing (future) professional attire. (Photo courtesy of Austin Bath)

Austin Bath is a junior, a Biology major who is also minoring in Spanish. A native North Carolinian, Austin is — as his Park mentor and FLL Assistant Head for Student Affairs Susan Navey-Davis describes him —  a “fine young man who has accomplished a great deal,” including a Park Scholarship and being recognized as NCSU 2013 Leader of the Pack.

In the following email interview Austin tells us a little bit about himself, what it means to be the 2013 Leader of the Pack, and the way how his FLL minor is giving him the opportunity to become a more competitive applicant to medical school.

Samuel Sotillo: First, could you tell us a little bit about your background? Where are you from? Where did you go to HS? What are you majoring in at NC State?

Austin Bath: I was born and raised in Greenville, North Carolina where I attended J.H. Rose High School. I have enjoyed growing up in Greenville, but I was excited to graduate and come to Raleigh for college. I am currently a junior majoring in human biology and minoring in Spanish.

SS: Why did you choose your Foreign Language & Literature Minor?

AB: My dream is to become a doctor one day. In the time I have spent shadowing, I have noticed that a large percentage of the patients only speak Spanish. I believe that when people are sick they are in their greatest need. For this reason, I have decided to obtain an education in the Spanish language so that I can communicate with more patients in their native language. After graduating, I believe education in a foreign language will make me a more competitive applicant to medical school, and more importantly it will better prepare me to serve in the field of health care.

SS: What opportunities within your Foreign Language & Literature Program have been most beneficial to your education? Of these, which would you recommend to incoming FLL students?

AB: Over the past year I have become involved with an organization on campus called VOLAR, which stands for Voluntarios Ahora en Raleigh (Volunteers Now in Raleigh). The purpose of VOLAR is to connect students studying Spanish with opportunities to volunteer and practice language skills simultaneously. I have specifically chosen to volunteer with the Open Door Medical Clinic. The purpose of the Open Door Clinic is to provide free healthcare to patients that would be unable to afford it otherwise. Approximately thirty-six percent of the patients can only speak Spanish, so it is my job to help these individuals apply for care at the clinic. VOLAR has been great to work with, and I would recommend that other students studying Spanish check it out as well.

SS: You are a Park Scholar, what does it mean to be one? Do you think that being a Foreign Language & Literature Minor may have helped you to be better prepared to be a Park Scholar?

AB: Being a Park Scholar has been a phenomenal experience. Aside from the financial benefits, the Park office does a great job of providing us with support and opportunities to supplement our formal education. However, we are always reminded that the intention of the Park Scholarship is not to reward us for previous things we have done, but instead to serve as an investment in the future things that we will do for our communities and for our world. I think this is where my FLL minor comes into play. As a FLL student, I have been given the opportunity to learn about cultures different than my own. I have also been given the chance to learn how to communicate with people from different backgrounds, so that I will have the potential to serve them in the field of medicine.

bath homecoming

Austin Bath being recognized at half-time during the Homecoming Football Game on November 2, 2013. (Photo CSLEPS)

SS: Not long ago, you were recognized as the 2013 Leader of the Pack, Congrats! How do you feel? What does it mean being the Leader of the Pack? Do you think that being a Foreign Language & Literature Minor may help you to be a better Leader of the Pack?

AB: Thank you! I was really excited to find out that I was selected as this year’s Leader of the Pack. Each year, a “Leader of the Pack” is selected based on scholarship, leadership, service, and a campus wide vote to serve as a positive role model for the campus. The winner is usually announced at halftime of the homecoming football game, in place of the traditional homecoming king or queen. I believe being a FLL minor will better prepare me to lead the pack in several ways. One of the most important ways is that as a FLL minor I have learned the importance of understanding and interacting with diverse cultures. On campus we have so many people represented, so as a FLL minor I feel better prepared to work with others from all walks of life.

SS: What community engagement opportunities or trip abroad related to your Foreign language and Literature minor have most influenced your professional vision and practice? Was your involvement with any of these community activities or Study Abroad opportunities based on a faculty/staff recommendation or course requirement?

AB: For the spring break of 2013, I had the opportunity to travel to Quito, Ecuador for a medical service trip through NC State’s Alternative Service Break program. During my time in Ecuador, our group established five different medical clinics where we provided free care for the local people. This experience allowed me to learn about Spanish and medicine at the same time. I enjoyed it so much that I plan to return to Ecuador for all of next semester to attend Universidad San Francisco de Quito in order to take class. Last year I took FLS 201 with Susan Navey-Davis, and she was the one who originally told me about the opportunities to study abroad. Without her, I might have missed the chance!

SS: What is the most challenging aspect of your Foreign Language & Literature Minor? What’s the most rewarding?

AB: As I mentioned, I’ve grown up in North Carolina. The hardest part of a being a FLL minor is getting rid of my southern accent! However, I hope to improve my Spanish accent while studying abroad in Ecuador next semester. I’ve found the most rewarding part of a FLL minor is when I get to communicate with native Spanish speakers. Although I still have a lot to learn, it is always exciting to put into practice what I am learning in the classroom.

SS: Do you have any piece of advice for fellow students who may be thinking about entering  a FLL program?

AB: To any student considering a FLL program, I would say go for it! As a FLL minor, I have been given so many opportunities and experiences that I would not have otherwise had. I believe being a FLL minor will be useful for the rest of my life.

SS: In a more personal tone, anything you are reading right now? Anything else we should know about you?

AB: Currently I am reading On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin. I know it sounds boring, but I am actually really enjoying it! The work is interesting to me because for those who don’t know, Darwin spent much time in the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador studying evolutionary biology. I figured that reading the book will prepare me for study abroad, and it has been a useful way that I have been able to tie together my biology major and Spanish minor.

SS: When you think of the future, what gives you a sense of hope? What concerns you?

AB: Something that is of concern to me personally is the amount of people in the world today that are without adequate access to food. However, I have hope at the same time because there are many efforts to alleviate this problem. At NC State, I have been impressed with all the work that is being done with the Feed the Pack pantry, the annual Stop Hunger Now meal packaging event, and through other means.

SS: What’s next for you after graduation? What are you looking forward to?

AB: After graduation, I hope to go to medical school to become a doctor. I will be sad to leave State, but I have truly enjoyed my time so far here as a student. I’m not sure yet where I will be going for medical school, but I guess we will see soon enough!

By Samuel Sotillo (FLL Lecturer/Webmaster)