NOVA alumnus Leonardo Sandino received a Post-Secondary Outstanding Language Learner award from the Foreign Language Association of Virginia (FLAVA) at their annual conference at the Doubletree Hotel in Williamsburg, Va. FLAVA “is a growing, dynamic organization of professionals in education and business, students, and all those who have an interest in promoting and utilizing languages to accomplish their various goals.”
NOVA Professor Martha Davis, who accompanied Leonardo to the conference, nominated him for the award, citing Leonardo’s leadership and unwavering encouragement of language learners as president of the Spanish American Latino Student Association (S.A.L.S.A.) and as a Spanish tutor at the Alexandria Campus.
As an English language learner, Leonardo was particularly useful in relating to the students he tutored and helping them feel more comfortable writing and speaking in Spanish. As president of S.A.L.S.A., he welcomed all students – regardless of background – who were interested in learning more about Latino cultures and the Spanish language. Gwen McCrea of the Academic Success Center and two students whom Leonardo tutored, wrote letters in support of his nomination. The students described Leonardo as “personable, patient, and encouraging” and “intelligent, dependable, hardworking, and enthusiastic.”
Leonardo was surprised and honored to be approached by two principals from Richmond high schools, a world languages coordinator and a dual language coordinator, immediately upon receiving the award. They were interested in speaking with him about future job opportunities at their schools. Leonardo will attend Wichita State in January 2020 and is now considering pursuing a career as a Spanish educator after he graduates.