Franciscan professor finds joy in teaching Spanish language


Photo by: Ulises Iniguez

Aside from being a wife and mother, Kathleen Spinnenweber, professor of Spanish at Franciscan University, has been teaching many students throughout the years not only the Spanish language, but also Spanish literature.

Born in Brooklyn, New York and growing up on Long Island, Spinnenweber spent the majority of her youth as a Long Islander. She attended Stony Brook University and received a bachelor of arts in Spanish and Russian. She stayed at Stony Brook University and went on to earn her masters in Spanish. From there she attended a doctoral program in comparative literature at Princeton University.

After she received her doctorate from Princeton, Spinnenweber obtained her first job at Franciscan University as a professor. She has been a professor at Franciscan for 26 years and has thoroughly enjoyed her work.

I enjoy dealing with and teaching students,” she said. I feel very fortunate that God gave me the opportunity to work here.” After starting her job at Franciscan, she met a philosophy professor named Earl Spinnenweber. They would later marry in her second year of teaching and would go on to have two children, Mark and William, who both attend Franciscan University.

Spinnenwebers work at Franciscan has mostly been teaching the Spanish language and literature. She teaches intermediate Spanish, a course on the Spanish writer Cervantes, a new course called Spiritual Texts of the Spanish Golden Age and some literature courses at the advanced level in which students study the work Don Quixote by Cervantes.

Spinnenweber has also published articles on the English translations of St. Teresa. She recently traveled to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, where the great Shrine of St. James is located, in order to write a paper on the nuptial symbolism found in a scene in Don Quixote.

Outside of her job, Spinnenweber described how she likes to travel and spend time outdoors. She said she enjoyed seeing many great places by walking through cities in Spain and visiting the Valley of Núria and Pyrenees.

In the future, Spinnenweber would like to help make the contributions of Hispanic culture to Western culture better known in the university and the Catholic world at large.

The artistic, spiritual and cultural legacy is what I think Anglo Americans would benefit from with contact with this culture and more knowledge of it,said Spinnenweber. I think we as Catholics would have a broader vision if we could embrace some of the lesser known and more intellectual aspects of this culture.

Her advice to students is: Remember that God loves you, and do not criticize yourself too much. Love yourself. Take care of yourself. Be good to yourself.She believes being a young adult can be very difficult in the world today.

If I can help somebody navigate this stage in their lives, it can give me deep satisfaction,Spinnenweber said. I also enjoy sharing the joys of people who are at this stage in their lives as well.”

It is this attitude she brings to the job that allows her to be successful in her career as a Franciscan professor.