Dr. Katrina Heil has always had a passion for both communication and the Spanish language, and she’s made a career out of those loves at ETSU.
“I loved everything about Spanish – the history, the language and the grammar structure but also the culture,” she said.
Heil grew up in Kansas City, Missouri, but got her undergraduate degree in San Antonio, Texas. While she was an undergraduate, she spent a year studying abroad in Spain. Heil says studying abroad is what made her really fall in love with the Spanish language.
“Living in Spain I realized I really can get totally fluent,” she said. “I got to know the culture a whole lot better. I’ve always really liked the history and the culture the best.”
Heil discovered her love of teaching while she was pursuing her master’s degree in Spanish literature at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
“They gave me a job teaching one class a semester, which was terrifying to me,” said Heil. “I had just turned 22 when I taught my first college Spanish class. That’s actually where I discovered I love teaching.”
She credits her love of teaching for pushing her to pursue her doctorate. Heil moved back to Texas and received her doctorate in Spanish literature there.
Heil began teaching Spanish at ETSU in 2007.
“One of the main reasons we wanted to move here from Texas is the mountains,” said Heil.
In her time away from campus, Heil and her family love to get outdoors.
“I definitely love being outside,” said Heil. “I mean, one of the main reasons we wanted to move here from Texas is the mountains. My husband said his dream was to live where he could see Whitetop Mountain, and you can just see the top of Whitetop Mountain from our house.”
In her free time, she enjoys reading, cooking and taking walks with her dog. She also spends a lot of time at her son’s baseball games.
Whether on-campus teaching Spanish or off-campus enjoying time with her family, one thing that never changes is Heil’s love for Spanish and communication.
“I’ve always enjoyed connecting with people, and when you can speak another language, you’ve just doubled or more the number of people you can connect with,” said Heil.