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Contact & Staff
University Scholars Program
2005 - 2006 University Scholar
Mentor: Geraldine Nichols
"Bucky" Wharton has always had a gift for learning
new languages. "I didn't grow up speaking Spanish
at home", he says. "I wasn't raised bilingual." Yet
language acquisition seems to run in the family.
Bucky quickly picked up Spanish in high school, with little tutoring help needed from
mom, Karen. By his junior year at Carmel High School near Indianapolis, Bucky found
himself on an airplane to the Spanish city of Cludad Real for a two-month Spanish
language immersion program offered through the University of Indiana.
Now, at age 20, the UF sophomore-planning to major in Spanish and political science-
has completed a University Scholars Program project on Spanish-American immigration
in Spain. The project took him back to Spain, to the city of Seville, where he spent
Summer A, 2005 using his Spanish-speaking skills to conduct interviews of Latin
American immigrants to the region.
"I wanted the opportunity to talk with native speakers and go to areas of town I wouldn't
normally visit during a study abroad program," he says. Using his USP stipend, as well as
his National Merit Scholarship, Bucky was able to participate in the two-month "UF in
Seville" study abroad experience, led by his USP mentor Geraldine Nichols, a professor of
Spanish whom he calls "A wonderful teacher, mentor, and role model." He used the time
he was in the country to examine immigration policy and the experiences of those
relocating to the region from throughout Latin America.
"My findings were that Latin American immigrants adapted relatively well," Bucky says.
"There was obviously some difficulty-some exploitation and labor market issues-but on
the whole they were leading safe, productive lives and integrating well into society,
making the most of the opportunities afforded them in Spain."
While in the country, Bucky had the chance to meet up with his mother in Madrid, where
she was conducting research for her master's degree. They spent a week experiencing
Spain together. "My mom has encouraged but not pushed me to study Spanish," he says.
"Kids often burn out on things their parents make them do. Sometimes the child who has
been playing basketball since he was three years old graduates from high school never
wanting to play again. My mom never did that with me. She was always positive in her
With two years left on his bachelor's, Bucky says he is enjoying his classes and becoming
more active in the political process. In addition to maintaining a flawless 4.0 GPA, he
spends his Sundays serving food at the St. Francis House, a Gainesville homeless shelter.
He also recently joined Children Beyond Our Borders, a UF student organization aimed at
providing support for impoverished Latin American children.
While nearly fluent in Spanish, Bucky is also studying Arabic, French and Chinese at UF.
He is unsure whether he will follow in his mother's footsteps to become a teacher or go
into public service like his father, Chuck, who works for the US Department of Justice. No
matter where his studies lead, he feels the USP has better prepared him for graduate
"I think the most important part of this project is that it helped me learn the process of
doing a large paper," he says. "I would feel perfectly confident doing a master's thesis or
doctoral thesis involving interviews, institutional approval and any amount of academic
research because I've had this experience and this practice."
Back to the Journal of Undergraduate Research
College of Liberal Arts and Sciences I University Scholars Program I University of Florida I Fi N NIVERSITY
ï¿½ University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611; (352) 846-2032., FLR IDA
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