Meet the GAs: Kailey Henderson

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CeLTA is proud to welcome Kailey Henderson as the new Graduate Assistant in charge of operations at the Spanish Writing Center. Kailey is currently in the second year of her PhD in Hispanic Cultural Studies here at MSU. She has a robust background in language education studies and remarkable Spanish skills. She received her MA in Hispanic Literature from MSU, and her BA in Spanish and English with a minor in TESOL from Albion College.  

In addition to her flourishing academic career, Kailey has also had a variety of immersive experiences with Spanish language and culture. During her junior year of college, she studied abroad in Alicante, Spain, where she became very close with her host mother, Dolores. Kailey said that at first the two had trouble getting along, mostly due to the preconceived notion Dolores had that Kailey couldn’t communicate in Spanish. After a heart-to-heart (in Spanish), the two bonded and keep in contact to this day. They chat about Pasapalabra, a game show in Spain that they watched together while Kailey was abroad.  

Kailey and her study abroad group at Universidad de Alicante

Of course, Dolores isn’t the only person who Kailey has connected with through her language skills. After graduating from college, she worked for Warrenville Youth and Family Services helping middle school students in Chicago. She communicated in both English and Spanish with the students, developed curriculum for a variety of subjects, and assisted students with everything from academic to socio-emotional needs. She also assisted the faculty with e-learning during the pandemic.  

Working with middle school students was a welcome challenge for Kailey. She said she had to really “think outside the box” about what might engage them. When she met roadblocks for activities due to the pandemic, she worked around them. Instead of field trips, the classes went on nature walks. As she helped these students learn, she herself learned more about what a teaching career could look like for her. 

While Kailey was completing her undergraduate degree at Albion, she completed an education internship at a bilingual school in Heredia, Costa Rica. During this month, she worked alongside the staff teaching lessons, observing the Costa Rican education system, and assisting the students. In 2020, she also went on a week-long trip with fellow students and faculty members to Puerto Rico. They traveled with an organization called Proyecto Palabras PR, touring the country and listening to local experts, artisans, and activists discuss projects related to education and more. 

Kailey teaching in Costa Rica

Back in the United States, Kailey is currently taking an independent study course in Literary Translation and a seminar in Gender and Sexuality in Contemporary Latin American Literature. She is particularly interested in Peninsular literature associated with gender studies and looks forward to a fulfilling semester in these classes. 

Kailey has built her professional skills through direct experience at MSU as well. During her MA and last year, she worked as a TA for the elementary level Spanish classes (SPN 101-202.) As a recent graduate herself, she was apprehensive at first about actually being in front of a classroom. Fortunately, with the help of her teaching community consisting of other TAs and faculty, she found great success and opportunity in this endeavor.  

She has also taught Spanish for kids with CLS since 2018 and is taking a break from that this year to focus on the Spanish Writing Center. She is looking forward to expanding her skills as an educator to include administrative aspects and learning more about how to organize resources for students. 

Kailey in front of the Red Cedar

We can’t wait to see all the amazing things Kailey will do for the Spanish Writing Center and beyond. With her talents in education and language, we are sure there is nothing she can’t accomplish.