Alumni Profile: Karen Haygood, Founder of Creando Little Language Explorers

Karen Haygood

When did you graduate from UW-Madison? What degree(s)?
I graduated in summer 2013 with a degree in Political Science & LACIS

What are you currently doing/working on?
I am a licensed childcare specialist and founder/owner of Creando Little Language Explorers in Madison, WI. We have two locations in town, and we work with kiddos ages 2 to 10.

What (or who) inspired you to enter the field of childcare/world language education?
I have always been passionate about working with children. However, what inspired me to open Creando was the lack of diversity and inclusion in the education system. I have seen first-hand while working as an ELL (English language learner) assistant how our ELL students were encouraged to learn English as fast as they can instead of celebrating their unique culture and language. As an immigrant, I wanted to create a nurturing and fun space for young learners to effectively be immersed in a new language early on while celebrating language, culture, diversity, and inclusion every day in the classroom with their families and community. I believe that making deep connections with people from other cultures and background will increase their ability to empathize and communicate with more people around the world, as well as promote emotional intelligence.

UW-Madison Study Abroad

What was your experience with LACIS?
I had an amazing experience at LACIS. I had the opportunity to learned from the best professors, meet incredible people, and travel to new places to learn more form the history of geopolitics of different Latin American countries. LACIS felt like home.

How did LACIS prepare you to get to the place where you currently are?
LACIS helped me to understand and appreciate the history of how the western hemisphere was shaped and settled over time and the impact this had on indigenous peoples and how the current landscape of Latin America came to be. The foundation of Creando is to teach appreciation for other cultures and backgrounds through language. Having the knowledge and appreciation for how our world was shaped through history helps Creando to do a better job of representing these cultures, and connect with our students and families that are learning about them.

Do you have any advice for our current LACIS undergraduate students?
Keep an open mind. Our world is changing so fast now and as all countries become more diverse and cultures spread around the world, there will continue to be more and more opportunities for you. Your education and the knowledge you gain from LACIS will help you connect with people that you would not otherwise be able to. It will open new doors to exciting and diverse opportunities so don’t be afraid to explore those new paths.