Outstanding Graduates Modern Languages


Mercy Milliken

Mercy Milliken

True to her name, Mercy Milliken '23 embodies compassion. A pre-med kinesiology and Spanish double-major, Mercy’s excellence and influence extend far beyond the walls of the classroom or laboratory: whether interning at Kingdom Causes in Santa Barbara or the Hospital General de Querétaro; serving on Potter’s Clay or WCSA; or co-leading the Global and International Student Association, Mercy’s compassionate heart and drive for justice are evident to all.



Cody LeFebre

Cody LeFebre '22 approaches his studies—and all he does—with joy and enthusiasm. He is passionate about learning—whether analyzing a poem, translating a news article for his internship with Latin American News Digest, or engaging in community-based research in Ensenada. His Spanish is so good and his vocabulary so extensive that fellow students here and abroad nicknamed him el diccionario; even professors might ask him a word or two!


Kyle Mayl

Kyle Mayl '21 is a committed, enthusiastic learner and teacher. A double major in Communication Studies and Spanish, Kyle studies in Westmont in Mexico and returned to campus to lead the cultural immersion program for Potter’s Clay. As a result of his work through Emmaus Road, he became a Communications and Cross-Cultural Coordinator for the Edge Project in Altea, Spain. His work as a tutor for the Spanish Department is often lauded by his student-peers, and he is currently campus President for Sigma Delta Pi, the Spanish Honor Society as well as a member of Phi Kappa Phi and Lambda Pi Eta. As an Augustinian Scholar he has challenged himself to explore new fields of study and often reads literature from an interdisciplinary perspective. As the recipient of the David Winter Servant Leader Award, his commitment to serve both the local and global community is exceptional. Kyle is a remarkable example of Christian commitment with a promising future.


 Emily Mata and   Hannah Nelson

 Emily Mata '20 lives a life of passion and compassion. A double major in Art and Hispanic Studies, Emily’s excellence and influence extend far beyond the walls of the classroom or studio. Whether leading the Latino Cultural Organization or editing the Phoenix; co-founding the poetry club or researching Latinx artists; working in prestigious museums or in low-income classrooms; Emily’s creative spirit, compassionate heart, and drive for justice are evident to all. Through her words, art, and activism, Emily challenges us all to open our eyes to see both the beauty and the injustice around us; and to not just see, but to act to make our communities better for all. A Fulbright finalist, Emily hopes to return to Mexico as an artist and educator, where she will create and teach in ways that encourage cross-cultural communication while honoring local histories.

 Hannah Nelson '20 is a stellar student both in her Spanish major and her Religious Studies minor. Her academic work is impeccable: she is meticulous and disciplined. Her close readings have served not only as literary analysis but as cultural artifacts to spur her continuous inquiry. In the classroom Hannah has a gracious and cooperative spirit that inspires her classmates to grow and learn. Her strength of character is more than evident in her generosity and care for each person who is blessed to call her a friend Hannah studied in Westmont in Mexico for a semester and also completed a May Term in Israel-Palestine and Northern Ireland, where studied conflict and reconciliation. Our Westmont and Santa Barbara communities have benefitted from Hannah’s active contributions. As a multi-year member of Sigma Delta Pi, the Spanish Honor Society, she was elected Co-President of our Chapter and continues to serve the Modern Language Department as a Spanish tutor. In addition, she interned at the Santa Barbara Rescue Mission in Homeless Guest Services and was its volunteer coordinator for two semesters. Hannah also led Westmont’s tutoring program at Franklin Elementary School.


Noel Hilst and Gabriel Grabowski

Noel Hilst '19 and Gabriel Grabowski '19, who also won for history, are the John Raede Award winners in modern languages. Hilst approaches all he does with joy and passion, according to his professors. “Whether it be playing in the orchestra or singing a capella with Ahh-Men; serving the elderly during an internship in Spain or working with exchange students here in the United States; translating on Potter’s Clay or serving as a resident assistant or Spanish tutor at Westmont, Noel does it with a joyful heart, infectious enthusiasm, and an enormous smile,” Docter says. “A double major excelling in both Spanish and psychology, Noel is a gifted scholar who writes with elegance and clarity.”

He is currently completing his major honors project on biculturalism and bias and is a Fulbright finalist, hoping to serve again in northern Spain, where he will work with plurilingual schools and serve in various community projects.


Ilana Baer

During a Westmont in Mexico semester in Queretaro, Ilana Baer '18 developed a special love for Mexican culture. A double major in Spanish and English, she served as a tutor in both the Writing Center and the Spanish Department. This summer, she’ll work as a receptionist at an ESL school in the San Francisco Bay Area. “Translation, teaching and linguistics intrigue me, and I’d love to be bilingual,” she says. “I’ll go after any work where words and people intersect.” For her senior capstone project, she translated three poems by Chilean poet Gabriela Mistral from Spanish into English. “The project allowed me to use skills from both of my majors and gave me an increased appreciation for translators everywhere,” she says. “I’m grateful for the professors who have enthusiastically represented their disciplines and thoughtfully encouraged their students.”


Rachel Ketenjian

Rachel Ketenjian '17 approaches her studies—and all she does—with joy and enthusiasm. Whether exploring European history or Latin American poetry, singing in the choir or translating on Potter’s Clay, Rachel does it all with a joyful and compassionate heart. A double major in history and Spanish, Rachel is a gifted scholar who writes with elegance and clarity. Although never the loudest voice in the room, she is always engaged—listening thoughtfully, supporting her peers and sharing her insights graciously. During her semester in Spain, Rachel saw Spanish language and history come alive most poignantly while volunteering with senior citizens—listening to their stories and learning about their lives. Wherever life takes her—be it the teaching field or law—Rachel will surely make an impact. The Modern Languages Department is proud to present Rachel with the John W. Raede Memorial Award.


Hailey Harper

Modern Languages presents the John W. Raede Memorial Award to Hailey Harper '16. Hailey expresses herself in Spanish with ease and elegance, both orally and in writing. She acquired her slight Castilian accent during her semester in Seville, Spain. Hailey keeps her language thriving by her engagements at Westmont as a Spanish tutor and in Santa Barbara, researching the availability and quality of food in Santa Barbara’s West Side, where she also acted as translator. For years, Hailey served on Potter’s Clay, recently leading the women’s sports team. In her classes, she’s proven to be a deep thinker and an extremely gifted writer. Like Don Quijote, Hailey’s life mission will undoubtedly include helping those in need and giving her best at repairing injustices wherever they may be.