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Charles "Bucky" Wharton, Spanish and Political Science Sophomore

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Charles "Bucky" Wharton
Charles "Bucky" Wharton

The son of a high school Spanish teacher, Charles “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 Ciudad 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 (USP) 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.

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 encouragement.”

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.

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