Walters State to Offer Tennessee’s First Community College Spanish Certificate | Appalachian Highlands

MORRISTOWN — Walters State Community College will offer a certificate in Spanish starting this fall, becoming the first community college in Tennessee to offer such a program.

Courses can be taken in traditional classrooms or online.

“While planning this program, we received so much positive feedback from business and industry leaders in the communities we serve,” said Dr. Tony Miksa, President of Walters State. “The need for Spanish speakers is spread across all fields, including human resources, healthcare, manufacturing, education and tourism.”

To obtain the certificate, students must take five Spanish lessons and one course focusing on the culture of Spanish-speaking countries. Graduates have the option of taking a national exam to determine and document proficiency levels.

Dr. Erika Stevens, senior foreign language teacher and associate professor of Spanish, started thinking about a certificate when she realized that many students were unable to take a foreign language due to changes in financial aid rules.

“A foreign language is now a requirement in only a few associate degree programs,” Stevens said. “If it’s not required in your program, financial aid and scholarship programs won’t pay for the course. Many of our students want to learn a foreign language and many are required to take the courses when they transfer to a four-year institution.

Sign up for Johnson City Press today!

The best stories, delivered straight to your inbox.

The new certificate allows students to earn the equivalent of a minor in Spanish, making courses eligible for financial aid.

The certificate is also designed for students who are already in the workforce. Stevens did extensive research before offering the program to college leaders, who then submitted it to the Tennessee Board of Regents for review.

“Many employers have written letters of support for the program, citing the benefits it could bring to businesses, employees and customers,” Stevens said. “Companies have also indicated their willingness to support employees pursuing the certificate. Many said that having bilingual employees would improve safety and productivity.

Students will choose a class customized to meet the needs of specific careers. These customized courses currently focus on the language used in healthcare, hospitality and paramedic/ambulance services. Other career areas are in the development phase.

This certificate is suitable for full-time and part-time schedules. Students can attend Walters State only for the certificate program without taking any other courses. The cost may be covered by Tennessee Promise, Tennessee Reconnect, or other funding sources.

For more information, contact Stevens at

Try the Johnson City Press app today. Download here from Google Play and App Store.

Recommended Videos

Edward K. Thompson