Professor Spotlight on Dr. Kristin Kiely


Staci Poston, Assistant Editor

Dr. Kristin Kiely, assistant professor of Spanish, begins her fourth year as a member of FMU’s Modern Language faculty this fall.

Kiely received her bachelor’s degree in Spanish and psychology from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. She earned her master’s degree in Spanish with a concentration in linguistics from the same university.

Though she was a double major in both Spanish and psychology as an undergraduate student, Kiely decided to focus on Spanish for her master’s degree because she knew that she wanted to become a professor.

“I liked the academic life,” Kiely said.

Kiely got her doctorate in Spanish with a focus on contemporary peninsular literature from Florida State University. Contemporary peninsular literature deals with novels from Spain during the end of the nineteenth century and throughout the twentieth century.

Kiely came to FMU and joined the Modern Languages faculty in the fall of 2007.

She said that the faculty at Francis Marion played a huge role in her decision to move to South Carolina.

“I love the faculty here,” Kiely said. “That is what sold me on Francis Marion.”

Kiely said that she enjoys the interdisciplinary friendships that are abundant at FMU.

“I know faculty from lots of different departments, and that’s not common at other schools,” Kiely said.

Kiely was also drawn to FMU because at a smaller university her teaching could come before her research. She believes that it’s important for everyone to learn a foreign language.

“Whether it’s Spanish, French or German-I wish we could offer Mandarin Chinese or Arabic-but I don’t think they realize just how helpful it is,” Kiely said. “Often, jobs will pay more if you’re bilingual … it’s really important in this world because we’ve gotten a lot more communication among countries.”

“You get so much more out of travel when you speak the language,” Kiely said.

Kiely utilized her own ability to speak Spanish while traveling this summer. She was awarded a scholarship to study in Spain for three weeks.

“I was in class from nine until five,” Kiely said. “Two were group classes, and one was individual. I just used it to learn as much as I could, because there are still things that are hard to understand for a non-native speaker. It was just so helpful to get even more understanding.”

When she wasn’t studying, she enjoyed the culture of Spain.

“I got to visit a lot of places that I had either not been before, or that I had been and I remembered and I wanted to see again,” Kiely said. “I went to museums, I went to different cities-Barcelona, Segovia, Toledo. I experienced the city and the people of Spain.”

Since her return, Kiely spent her time teaching two summer classes at FMU and enjoying her two feline friends.

Kiely has two pet cats, Isis and Seti. Isis, who is seven years old, is named after an Egyptian goddess. Seti, who is two years old, is named after an Egyptian pharaoh.

Kiely gave her cats their unique names due to her interest in ancient Egypt.

“I’ve studied ancient Egypt since I was nine,” Kiely said.

Isis and Seti provide entertainment and stress relief to Kiely and any company that she has over.

“They are the friendliest cats I have ever seen,” Kiely said. “They love everyone … People say that animals help you with stress and lower your blood pressure; it really is true. I sit on the carpet and Isis comes over and I just pet her, and I feel better. Or Seti comes and rubs against my face, and it just cheers me up a little bit.”

Kiely also enjoys singing, acting, reading, and watching horror movies. She is currently involved in the production of “Big River” with Florence Little Theater, in which she will be playing the role of “Strange Woman.”

“My colleges and my friends have all commented that it’s quite fitting that I’m playing Strange Woman,” Kiely said.

Kiely, an Ohioan, must learn a Southern accent for her part.

“I can’t do Southern to save my life,” Kiely said.

This fall, Kiely will be teaching Spanish 101, Spanish 201, and Spanish 308. She said that she is especially looking forward to 308, Civilization and Culture of Spain.

“That class allows me to do something a little more creative,” Kiely said. “I can show some videos, I can show art pieces from Spain.”

Kiely is currently working on research corresponding to a novel that her students read in a summer class that she taught this year.

“Everyone knows about Don Quixote and being insane, but someone suggested schizophrenia,” Kiely said. “Having my background with psychology, I thought, ‘oh this is actually a very interesting idea,’ so I’ll be looking at it from the point-of-view of schizophrenia.”

Kiely ended by offering some advice for incoming freshmen.

“Realize that you have to study a lot more in college than in high school,” Kiely said. “Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Make sure you have friends to help you through it.”