Dan Sheff

Dan Sheff

Class year:  2001

Major(s):  Estudios Hispánicos (Spanish)

Professional Position: Dean of Community Life; Spanish  & Administration, Humanities Division

Alumni Biography: 

For the first 10 years of my professional career, I taught Spanish and worked with students in several different ways. Because of this work, I joined the Dean of Students office six years ago, first as the Assistant Dean and later as the Dean of Students. My study of languages and time abroad have had a large impact on this professional progression.

One major way in which studying language has been important to my professional growth is because it has helped me understand the importance of words and language. It is a job in which I am communicating constantly to students, parents, and colleagues. As a language student, you study not only the meanings of words but also tone and code. At St. Lawrence, I did an independent project on translation. Translators seek to convey both literal and emotional meaning, and the pursuit of translation strengthened my appreciation and understanding of the identity and nuance attached to words, written and spoken. Language study and travel also makes you aware of other people's experience, and for me, it cemented the idea that people can relate to a similar experience quite differently depending on their background and the cultural milieu to which they are accustomed. At St. Lawrence, I went on the Spain program, and since, I have traveled or led student trips to Mexico, Argentina, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico. These experiences, made possible by my study of language, have made me an effective educator and communicator. Thus, they have also had an unquestionable and perhaps unrivaled influence on my professional success.