A whole new world has opened up for Elli Springer.
The Valentine native has been honored with a Seal of Biliteracy, acknowledging that she is now proficient in Spanish as well as English.
The recognition comes after Springer took online Spanish classes through Mid-Plains Community College. She will now be able to communicate with a wider range of people — no matter where life takes her.
“I really like languages,” Springer said. “They are fascinating to me. Being bilingual is such an important skill to have because it provides so many opportunities.”
Springer became interested in learning Spanish because of her grandmother.
“My grandmother spoke Spanish,” said Springer. “She learned as an adult, and I always loved hearing her speak it when I was little. She taught me some, but I didn’t keep up with it. When I was about 14, I started picking up pieces of the language so that I could speak to her in Spanish when we visited her, and she loved it. That’s what really got me started.”
Springer subsequently began taking Spanish classes through Valentine High School as a sophomore and enjoyed them so much that, for a while, she considered becoming a translator. By her senior year, she was taking Spanish courses through MPCC as an independent study.
“Mid-Plains Community College is a great place for an education because the instruction is so individualized,” Springer said. “My instructor was really helpful. I could contact him anytime with questions, and he would answer them. He also provided me with a lot of online resources for things like pronunciations and verb conjugation. He made it easy to learn.”
The Spanish classes through MPCC were separate from her high school course load, but Springer also completed dual credit classes through Mid-Plains. By the time her high school graduation rolled around, she had a total of 30 credit hours from MPCC, and 10 of those were in Spanish.
“That was a big cost savings for me,” Springer said. “I had been considering going out of state for college, but when I looked at those prices compared to Mid-Plains — MPCC just made sense. Not only did I save on tuition, and time down the road, but I also got a great education because of the one-on-one instruction.”
Springer earned a 4.0 GPA from both MPCC and Valentine High School and graduated valedictorian.
Her next step is to become a cosmetologist.
Springer plans to attend the College of Hair Design in Lincoln this fall. She will spend 12 months studying cosmetology, followed by another six months obtaining a barber license and then five more months learning about aesthetics.
Eventually, Springer would like to own a salon.
“In every step of that journey, I can benefit from the skills I learned through Mid-Plains,” Springer said. “Being able to speak another language will really help me expand my clientele, and it has inspired me to try out other languages as well. I’m just going to keep going. My grandma always said, ‘The more you can expand your mind, the better off you’ll be.’”