By Jonah Grinkewitz
For Trevor Law, studying Spanish was more than an opportunity to learn a new language - it was a chance to connect with family. At gatherings, he noticed a natural divide between his relatives from Puerto Rico and those living in the U.S.
"It was personal," he said. "And I fell in love with the culture, the art and the rhythm of the language."
Law's desire to connect with people extends past his own family. As an international business major with a minor in Spanish and Arabic, he hopes to meet people from across backgrounds and cultures after he graduates.
"My ultimate goal is to work in a multicultural environment of creating something new," he said. "That could be developing business plans with people from different countries or consulting with a foreign business to bring them into the U.S."
Law credits his global communications class, taught by Lee Slater, as an experience that helped shape his direction. In that class, he worked with students from other countries to develop a business plan for an actual company looking to expand abroad.
"I've been fortunate enough in her class to have the experience of working with kids from all over the globe," he said. "It could be stressful, but every lecture she would walk us through techniques for communicating in a multicultural environment."
"Trevor is a phenomenal relationship-builder and problem solver," Slater said. "I am confident that in the future he will be an asset to any international corporation because of his natural and finely tuned global communication skills."
Law grew up in Virginia Beach and his dad also graduated from ODU. As kid, he went to many ODU basketball games.
Even though the University was familiar to him, he enjoyed exploring a new city as a student.
"I love Norfolk and I've met some of the most amazing people here," Law said.
Exploring is in his nature. With the help of ODU's study abroad office, Law spent a semester at Pablo de Olavide University in Seville, Spain in 2019.
"I loved every second of it and ever since I left, I've been trying to figure out a way to get back," he said.
Law wants to get his Master's of Science in global management at a university in Europe - hopefully Spain. He is studying for his Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) and plans to apply for CEMS - a global alliance of leading business schools - this fall.
"As language and culture professors, we can only hope that our students will use their skills after they graduate," said Martha Daas, chair of world languages and cultures and associate professor of Spanish. "We try so hard to show the students (and the rest of the University) how relevant and incredibly important it is to study different languages and cultures. I didn't even have to make the hard sell to Trevor - he instinctively knew how important these skills were for his degree and he worked diligently to perfect both Spanish and Arabic."
Law admits that Arabic did not come as easy as Spanish, but he wanted to explore a language and culture that is underrepresented in the U.S.
"It was more difficult because it was an entirely new language system, but also very rewarding," he said.
Shadi Bayadsy, Arabic lecturer at ODU, said Law had a curiosity that is important for language learners.
"He takes risks and is not afraid to try something new and make mistakes in front of his peers," Bayadsy said. "He is very eager to learn about the culture and the people who speak the language."
Law believes finding common ground between cultures is valuable, especially in times of conflict.
"I think when you start finding even small similarities or seeing the different ways people live, they stop becoming this vague 'other,'" he said. "It's not condoning any actions; it's just understanding that people are still people and they are not just the 'enemy.'"