Following graduation from Windsor Locks High School in 2014 Kasey Shemanskis was like a lot of high school graduates in that she was not sure what her next steps should be. “I felt very lost in my journey and did not know which career path to take. I chose to attend Asnuntuck because they offered a diverse course load. I wanted to explore my options and I felt Asnuntuck would be the best fit for me to try new things,” said Kasey.
She enrolled at Asnuntuck in the Fall of 2014. She did not know that she would find a passion and her career as part of her education. Like many high school students, Kasey had selected Spanish as her foreign language of choice at Windsor Locks High School. She explained, “I took Spanish all throughout High School and was very interested in becoming fluent.” She continued, “Once I graduated, I put that interest aside and chose to take a break from the language.” Now a resident of Windsor, Kasey noted, “I ended up taking a beginner to a Spanish course at Asnuntuck in the fall of 2016 and fell back in love with the Language. This is where my journey really began.”
She credited Asnuntuck Adjunct Professor Linda Dalpe as the person who provided the spark she needed. “Linda was very passionate about teaching. She came to class every night excited and that energy transferred to her students. Linda not only taught us vocabulary and grammar but culture as well.” She noted, “An influential moment in her class for me was when she brought her good friend, Miguel, to the class to discuss a study away program located in Salamanca Spain. His presentation was inspiring and made me want to travel abroad.”
She explained, “I was able to study abroad in Salamanca for one month in the summer of 2017 thanks to the help of Linda.” She continued, “It was an experience like no other. I immersed myself in a new culture. I ate new foods, explored new places, and met people from all over the world. This trip was life-changing. It encouraged me to continue learning. I had such an amazing time that I returned to Spain two years later.”
According to Linda, Kasey was one of two Asnuntuck students who has benefited from the Ken Lester Summer Study Abroad Scholarship from The CT Council of Language Teachers. “It is $1000 to a student who studies abroad in a bonified language program – open to students K-16.” She explained., “If my students want to apply for the CT COLT scholarship, I help them with the application. The study abroad experience is life-changing!”
Kasey went to Colegio Delibes in Salamanca, Spain. Linda added, “I had mentioned to Kasey how desperate we are for Spanish teachers and encouraged her to pursue a career that she was passionate about…and it will never be a job.”
The Asnuntuck adjunct explained, “I met the owner and director of Colegio Delibes -Miguel Benito – personally after having toured 4 language schools in Salamanca a number of years ago. I had an exchange program for 10 years when I was the WL (World Language) chair in Enfield….an opportunity came up when our sister school couldn’t host us during our vacation week because of Semana Santa – and I had the perfect chance to bring our EHS (Enfield High School) students to Delibes. I chose Delibes over the other schools because of the quality of the programs, and the omnipresence of both Miguel and his wife to oversee the daily operation of the school. It has excellent accreditation ratings (through Instituto de Cervantes).”
These immersive experiences helped Kasey feel confident in the next steps of her education. “After graduating from Asnuntuck, I continued my education at Keene State College. There, I studied Spanish conversation, grammar, and culture all four years. I also studied Education. I graduated from Keene State with a double degree in Spanish and Education.”
She said, “Once at Keene State, I knew becoming a Spanish teacher was the perfect profession for me. It was mandatory to study abroad in a Spanish-speaking country to graduate with a Spanish degree. She noted, “I chose to study abroad in Seville, Spain for 4 ½ months. While there, I lived with a host family that did not understand English. I was forced to speak and think in Spanish 24 hours a day. At first, it was exhausting, but as time passed things got easier.” Kasey added, “I fully adjusted to typical life in Spain. I took a full load of classes in downtown Seville and participated in a traditional Flamenco class outside of school.”
In the Spring of 2020, Kasey started her career in teaching as a long-term substitute at Granby Memorial High School. This year the Asnuntuck graduate is completing her first year as a Spanish teacher at Sage Park Middle School.
The alumnus had praise for Asnuntuck and another instructor. “Attending Asnuntuck was a great experience. The faculty and students are very welcoming, and it felt like a small community inside the building.” She added, “While at Asnuntuck, I took several psychology classes with Heather D’Orlando. She was always happy and cared deeply about her students. She is a teacher that I will never forget.”