Classics Speaker Series: US Diplomat Tashawna Smith and UC Berkeley Professor David Bamman
Hun’s classics and modern languages department have been great this year. Dr. Crosson and Dr. Holm have been organizing an interdisciplinary Classics Speaker Series where accomplished professionals from different fields with a Classics background give presentations to Hun students. There has always been an influential group of Hun students who take Classics while excelling in many other areas; For some, Classics is even their primary career path. The Speaker Series aims to refute the myth that learning Latin is useless and for speakers to share the benefits of learning classics in their respective fields of study. Dr. Holm shared his thoughts on the speaker series:
“[This speaker series] shows people that Latin has value in many different areas. What you will do with [Latin] is anything you want, only better. And I think that this series gives real-life evidence that that’s true in many different fields.”
Hun welcomed the first speaker, US diplomat Tashawna Smith, to the PAC on December 3rd. Students of Latin and Greek, members of the Black Student Union Club, and members of Model UN attended this event. These students could earn extra credit by bringing a non-Latin/Greek student to the meeting. Mrs. Smith talked about how learning Latin in high school helped her learn multiple languages quickly as preparation to serve as a diplomat. She attributed her success to skills she built when learning Latin. During the Q&A session, she answered questions regarding UN meetings and her work as a state diplomat.
The following speaker, David Bamman, is a Computer Science professor at UC Berkeley with a classics background. He works on Natural Language Processing and cultural analytics. He was also a senior researcher at the Perseus Project of Tufts University. On January 24, David Bamman zoomed in during the flex period to present “From Classics to Computer Science.” Professor Bamman shared many interesting points on the influence of language processing on AI development which improves language analytics. He points out that his background in classics led him to the field of Computer Science. Classical languages also provide much insight for his research.
Both events successfully gave students an idea of the exciting opportunities of learning classical languages. The interdisciplinary Classics Speaker Series brings a valuable but often overlooked facet to the Hun community. Classics brings together students of different interests and backgrounds and elevates the understanding of classics beyond the classroom.