Professor Spotlight: Kristin Kiely

Kristin A. Kiely, a professor of Spanish, traveled hundreds of miles from Cincinnati, Ohio, to teach the language, art, history and culture of the Hispanic population to FMU students. 

“Spanish is not just one culture, and I love the language itself,” Kiely said. “Being able to pick it apart is just fascinating to me.”  

Having visited Colombia, Mexico and Spain, she experienced the differences between them, though they share the same language.  

“Learning another language, like Spanish, is so helpful in today’s world,” Kiely said. “Seeing how we interact on social media and understanding that knowing two languages will make you more money on a job.”   

Kiely said there was an option to take a language class or a reading class in her school. However, since she was already reading in her spare time, she wanted to broaden her horizons and branched out to Spanish.   

Kiely took her first Spanish class in seventh grade, later following it with all of the Spanish classes offered in her high school. She proceeded through Spanish five, also known as Advanced Placement (AP) Spanish.   

“I went to Miami University in Oxford, Ohio,” Kiely said. “When I went to college, they had a testing exam for language, and when I took it, I tested into the 300 level.”  

Kiely loved the language so much she decided to teach it. Including her graduate school program, she has over 20 years of experience teaching Spanish. Within this number, she has 15 years of experience teaching collegiately.   

After graduating college, Kiely said she applied to as many schools as she could, which ended up being over 50. She landed nine interviews, and with multiple options lined up, she needed to decide where she wanted to go.   

Her decision to move south was more appealing after her parents retired from Ohio and moved to Florida. Though being close to family was a perk, Kiely said her favorite thing about FMU is the people.   

“I just loved Francis Marion,” Kiely said. “The people, my colleagues, are amazing. I have friends in biology, theater, mass communications and math, and that just does not happen in other schools. I love that I know people from all over the university.”  

Kiely said her favorite thing to do is watch her students absorb the knowledge in the classroom. She enjoys showing her students learning a new language is not as scary as it may seem.  

“In Spanish, you see a lot of students who have either had a bad experience with the language, or they have not understood it,” Kiely said. “Because it is something I love so much, I want to try to reach them in a different way, and that is when they suddenly understand it.”  

Kiely said she would like students at FMU to know that if they ever have any questions, all of the professors in the foreign language department are always open and willing to help them.