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August 26, 2013

Award winning ULM alum heads to Virginia to teach Spanish

University of Louisiana at Monroe alum Matthew Street (B.A., '11) recently obtained a position as Spanish lecturer at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Va.

In addition to teaching, Street will also work with the newly created alumni chapter of Sigma Delta Pi, the National Collegiate Hispanic Honor Society, which he joined first at ULM.

"I consider my decision to come to ULM as destiny," said Street.

"I was a non-traditional student who had been out of school for over six years. I moved to Monroe for a job and shortly thereafter, was introduced to Dr. Ruth Smith, who explained the Spanish program to me. She was very personable and encouraged me to enroll in Dr. Charles Holloway's Spanish phonetics class. After that semester, I knew that I wanted to enroll full-time."

Sigma Delta Pi played a large part in Street's development as an undergraduate student.

The honor society recognizes students who have demonstrated a love of Hispanic culture and language and who maintain a 3.0 grade point average in Spanish and an overall average of 2.75. Street was inducted in the fall of 2009.

"ULM prepared me for my current job by helping me foster a work ethic that is necessary to be successful in today's fast-paced world," said Street.

"It was at ULM where I first developed a love for Spanish literatures and linguistics. The Spanish professors always pushed me to do my best and nourished my quest for knowledge and understanding of the Spanish-speaking world."

Street also served as the 2010-2011 president of the Lambda Sigma chapter at ULM, and in the spring of 2011, Street received the prestigious Gabriela Mistral Award for his academic achievements and outstanding chapter involvement.

"Matt loves to learn," said Dr. Ruth Smith, Director of the School of Humanities.

"He is intent upon learning all that he can about Spanish, Hispanic literature and culture, and best teaching practices. As president of Sigma Delta Pi, Matt was an excellent leader. He involved the other members, prepared for initiations and events, and looked for ways to improve the society. Matt eagerly accepts his assignments and tasks and prepares diligently so that the results are always outstanding."

"From the time he came to the ULM campus, Matt demonstrated that he was determined to gain everything he could from his undergraduate education," said Dr. Charles Holloway, ULM Professor of World Languages.

"He went far beyond what would have been expected of him in every aspect of his involvement with the Department of World Languages. Matt was recommended by the faculty for some very important translating, interpreting, and tutoring jobs in the community. Our trust in him was based on his abilities with the language, his solid work ethic, and his exemplary character. Over the years, I heard countless comments from students about how helpful Matt had been to them as a Spanish tutor."

In May 2013, Street graduated from the University of South Carolina with a Master of Arts in Spanish, where he also served as Graduate Liaison of USC's Chi Chapter of Sigma Delta Pi.

"I am excited to serve in whatever capacity is needed to help grow the chapter at UVA," Street said.

In order to maintain his connection to Sigma Delta Pi, Street works with the newly created Sigma Delta Pi alumni chapter – Los Paladines – for which he serves as Vice President for Graduate Students and Honorary Member outreach.

"Our goal is to create a forum that encompasses alumni from many Sigma Delta Pi chapters throughout the United States, so that a dialogue develops among people with a shared interest in understanding Hispanic cultures," said Street.

Street looks forward to making a living in a career that he loves. "Being a Spanish instructor at the university level has been extremely rewarding," he said.

"Seeing students develop an interest in Spanish based on the classes I have taught is priceless. Accepting this job at the University of Virginia was a proud moment, because finally I was able to see that all of the hard work of graduate school had paid off."

None of it comes without difficulty, however. "The biggest challenge as a professional has been taking care of our newborn baby Jett in the midst of graduate school. My wife gave birth to Jett in the middle of the first semester at the University of South Carolina. Determined to do my best, I slept very little during that time and focused on the end goal of graduating and obtaining a job at a prestigious university." Street certainly obtained that goal in his appointment at UVA.

At some point, Street says he would like to find his way back to ULM to join the faculty that so inspired him.

To current students, he advises, "Invest and engage yourself in language learning, because it has immediate practicality that will help develop new perspectives on amazing cultures with rich histories."

"Matt continues to recruit new members and to participate in Sigma Delta Pi activities," said Holloway.

"He is a very dedicated student and teacher who eagerly accepts new challenges and strives for excellence in everything he undertakes."

For information on the alumni chapter of Sigma Delta Pi, please visit

Photo of Matthew Street courtesy

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