By Anna Sharp
Where can you start the evening learning about law school and end it watching an Enrique Iglesias music video? The CLASS Seminars, of course. Dr. Mitch McCoy led the class of 2018 Scholars in a seminar he called “Professions, Language and Love,” a title that hinted at his overarching theme: the importance of fusion. As both a Spanish professor and a Pre-Law advisor at Belmont, Dr. McCoy knows about combining your interests into a profession.
Dr. McCoy began by asking the scholars to imagine (with reluctance from some) that they wanted to go to law school. He then took them through a series of questions designed for the student who is considering law school, and they were encouraged to examine their imaginary reasons for wanting to attend. In addition to this questionnaire, Dr. McCoy distributed an information sheet that he gives to Belmont students who come to him interested in law school. “You’ll be so far ahead of the game if you do decide to go to law school now,” he told the scholars.
In overloading the scholars with information, Dr. McCoy was simply illustrating his true message: if you want to go to law school, “you need to have really good reasons for it.” He gave this insight with his own personal experience to bolster it, revealing that he got to law school and realized he didn’t actually want to practice law. He only continued because he is “really loyal” and wanted to finish what he had started. “I got a job because I had a law degree, and it paid more because I had a law degree, but it wasn’t my heart’s desire,” he told the scholars. Nevertheless, Dr. McCoy now gets to fulfill his heart’s desire by teaching Spanish while still using his experience from law school to help students who aspire to careers in law. Showing that it is entirely possible to have a career that combines your different interests and skills, Dr. McCoy moved into a discussion of the other half of his own combination.
As Dr. McCoy began to take the scholars—some students of Spanish themselves—through the Spanish alphabet, they discovered that they were speaking two different dialects. This led into an exploration of the differences between the Spanish of Spain, which Dr. McCoy was speaking, and the Latin American Spanish, which many scholars were familiar with. As soon as the differences were sorted out, the entire room was chanting Spanish vowel exercises with expertise. Dr. McCoy was impressed by the scholars’ grasp of the language. “Your teachers have taught you well,” he told them. “I love this!” On realizing that he didn’t need to go back to basics with this group, Dr. McCoy switched his topic from grammar to culture.
The scholars learned that Spanish artist Salvador Dali collaborated with Walt Disney in 1946 to make a short animated film called Destino. After watching the film the scholars gave interpretations of its symbols and themes, with Dr. McCoy encouraging all ideas. The dreamlike lamentation portrayed in the film was the perfect segue into his next topic—flamenco. Dr. McCoy passed around a fan (or as he called it, an abanico) for those who wanted a dramatic flare and taught the scholars several different variations of flamenco hand clapping before moving onto footwork. Soon everyone was standing up and banging their heels on the ground trying to get the planta tacón tacón combination correct. The lively dancing set the mood for the seminar’s conclusion: the music video for Enrique Iglesias’s song “Bailando.” The mix of musical styles in the song brought Dr. McCoy full circle to the idea of fusion—and not just in music. He left the scholars with advice to someday combine what they love with their profession as well as an open ear for any questions about “Spanish, law or just life in general.”