❍ Year of graduation: 2006
❍ Sr. UI Developer; Software/Startups; Electric Cloud
Question: How did you to decide to major in Spanish at Williams?
Bryan Dragon: At the beginning of my first semester at Williams I was planning my schedule with my advisor and needed a fourth class–he suggested I try Spanish. I had studied French in high school and had a general interest in foreign languages, so I took his advise. I fell in love with the language and never looked back.
Question: What are some of your favorite memories of classes, readings, professors, or study abroad experiences?
Bryan Dragon:I have only the fondest things to say about the Williams Spanish department.
One of my favorite things about the program was the small class sizes (usually fewer than 10 students). This fostered a level of conversation that is simply not possible in a larger class setting. I developed many close friendships with my classmates—my best friend to this day was also a Spanish major at Williams.
The professors in the department were always encouraging. After only a year of Spanish—before I had decided to become a major—I can recall Professor Gene Bell-Villada encouraging me to study abroad in Mexico during my sophomore Winter Study. After that experience I was hooked. In fact, I leveraged every possible opportunity to travel while at Williams. Before college I had never been to a Spanish-speaking country; upon graduation I had been to six.
By far the most memorable of these experiences was the year I studied abroad in Costa Rica. I chose not to enroll through an American study abroad program and instead enrolled in the university directly, alongside Costa Rican students, and rented an apartment. As a result, I was thrown into the fire in several senses. First, I learned a great deal. Second, I did a lot of growing up. My view of myself,s and my place in the world changed. I would recommend such an experience to any student: there is no better way to learn a language, and there is no better way to expand your world-view.
The fact that I was able to advance from Spanish 101 to graduating as a major is testament alone to the quality and rigor of the Spanish program at Williams if you’re willing to put in the work. My first job out of college was teaching middle- and high-school Spanish at a private school in Miami, FL. Though I lacked formal training as an educator, I felt quite well prepared for the challenges I faced as a Spanish teacher. While teaching ultimately did not turn out to be my calling, I still carry many fond memories of that year.
Question: How did majoring in Spanish help prepare you for what you do now?
Bryan Dragon:It is astonishing the ways in which being able to speak Spanish has surfaced in my career. My first tech job was working for an advertising startup in North Adams called VoodooVox. We had an audio expert on staff who would record content for some of our advertisers. When we took on Cerveza Tecate, he couldn’t record the audio in Spanish and so he came to me and asked me to do it. So for a brief time in 2007, if you used a certain calling card you would have heard my ad. In another job for an educational software company in Washington, DC, I spent a week translating the student help for our software into Spanish and recording the audio.
But most notably, Spanish has opened the doors to many, many meaningful relationships in my life. I would encourage anyone to learn another language—it will open more doors than you would imagine.
As a software engineer, people often ask me why I studied Spanish literature in college. I just smile. Quite frankly, it was one of the best life decisions I have ever made.