Alum practices Spanish while working on degree in journalism



Ashley Chase immerses herself in learning Spanish while working on her journalism degree.

Brianne Chase, Staff reporter

This past fall, every day Ashley Chase woke up to an apartment in which the only language she ever heard was Spanish, from the conversations she had with her roommates to the TV shows and movies they watched. She was taking part in a “foreign language housing” program, in which five students learning a language and a native speaking student live in an apartment together to practice and learn their language of choice, while also taking certain language classes to help with their learning.

Although Chase has spent much of her time in college at BYU  learning Spanish, her actual focus is on becoming a journalist. When she had graduated from Vandegrift back in 2017, she had never taken a single Spanish class, and her first experience with the language took place a year later when she went on an 18-month church mission in Spain. Now she wants to continue her Spanish learning, and hopefully be able to use it in her future career as a journalist. 

“Being in that kind of immersed environment in another language, especially one I want to do reporting in, has been really great for me,” Chase said. “Not only am I making great interpersonal relationships with people, because we’re forced to spend all this time together, but I feel like I’m learning the language a lot quicker, and I feel more confident to be able to talk to people and use it in my career, to be natural with people using that language.”

For Chase, speaking the language wasn’t difficult, because of her experiences in Spain and her passion for learning the language. 

“That’s probably one of my favorite parts, is being immersed in a different language, and getting to interact with people in a very natural environment, instead of the classroom environment,” Chase said.

What she did find difficult was the scheduling. As part of the foreign language housing program, participants take turns preparing scheduled dinners together, which occur four times a week, to provide opportunities to spend time with each other while practicing the language, and they also have additional language classes they’re required to take, both of which often conflict with Chase’s busy journalist’s schedule.

“A lot of my main stories that I have to go out and film and report on were at the same time as some of the dinners or some of the classes,” Chase said. “So trying to juggle my responsibilities with that foreign language program, and also my ridiculous schedule with studying journalism and reporting as a reporter, was by far the most difficult thing”

Chase found the program to be somewhat less intense than she had expected, but what she really hadn’t been expected was to form the bonds that she did with the girls in her apartment and the other members of the Spanish program living in their “house.”

“I didn’t expect to become such fast friends with everybody, and I didn’t expect it to be [the] much more relaxed, encouraging environment kind of that it was,” Chase said. 

Along with her studies in Spanish, Chase is also very passionate in her studies as a journalism major. She first developed that passion while she was still attending Vandegrift, where she was a member of student newspaper and served as editor her senior year. 

“When I joined newspaper, it was kind of in the back of my mind that I could do journalism,” Chase said. “I wasn’t super seriously considering it yet, since I was still just kind of dipping my feet in. But the longer I was in newspaper, the more and more I started to realize, ‘you know, this could be something that I could do in the future’, and I started realizing that I could enjoy it, after I got used to it.”

As a rather introverted person, some of the more social parts of newspaper didn’t come naturally at first. But once she was able to get out of her comfort zone, she found that she loved meeting the people she wrote about and being involved in the events those people participated in. 

“I started realizing that I also really love people, and I love making relationships with people,” Chase said. “Being a journalist automatically gives you an in to a lot of events, and a lot of people’s life stories that you otherwise wouldn’t ever get. Learning everyone’s life stories like that, and having a couple of stories really come together, with people I wouldn’t of met otherwise, I think that’s definitely what clinched it for me.”

The valuable experiences Chase had while in newspaper at Vandegrift were what drove her to pursue continuing journalism as a career, so that she can continue taking part in the things about journalism she came to love.

“I made some of the best friendships with the people that I worked with in newspaper, friendships that I wouldn’t have made otherwise,” Chase said. “It taught me a lot of really good social skills, it gave me a lot more confidence, and it really opened up my worldview, of seeing things from other people’s perspectives, and understanding all these events, and mindsets and hobbies that I’d never even known existed before. It opened up my world, doing those stories.”