Sara Colburn, Ph.D.

“Truly, there exist many awesome things about teaching Spanish. My true passion resides in teaching about the various Spanish-speaking peoples’ literature, history and culture. I want students to parlay their classroom curiosity into immersive experiences, like internships with immigrant organizations and/or study away. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing students embrace the world from different cultural vantage points.”


Professor of Spanish

Educational Background

  • Ph.D., Indiana University – Bloomington, IN
  • M.A., Middlebury College – Middlebury, VT
  • B.A., Ripon College – Ripon, WI

Year Joined Franklin



Spanish-speaking travel experiences include Spain, Belize, Mexico, Cuba, Colombia, and the Dominican Republic
peninsular literature, gender studies, foreign language methodology and comparative literature

Can you tell me more about Franklin College’s foreign language requirement?

Yes, it is true. Franklin College has a foreign language requirement. An incoming student to Franklin College must have completed two years of the same language in high school and received passing grades in these classes. If a student has never taken a foreign language in high school, s/he is required to complete the introductory level of Spanish or French in a two-course sequence, FRE or SPA 110 and 111. All incoming students who have taken French or Spanish in high school must complete the French or Spanish online placement exam prior to their registration day at Franklin College. This test, based on each individual’s results, serves as an excellent measure to place the student at the appropriate course level. Should an incoming student take the placement exam and test into FRE or SPA 210 and 211, our intermediate level sequence, and take FRE or SPA 210 and pass the course with a C- or better, the student would receive credits for SPA 210, 110 and 111 (8 credits for free!) that could then be applied toward the 120 credits all FC students need to graduate. Further, FRE and SPA 210 fulfill the international course requirement. And, finally, a student that successfully tests into and completes FRE or SPA 210 with a C- or better would then be considered sophomores based on their credits. Therefore, this student would then have the right to register as a sophomore—bypassing her fellow freshmen in line to register—and also receiving the opportunity to draw a number in the room lottery sooner than her original freshmen cohort.

How do you help students who are on their way to graduate programs?

I give students individually tailored support in studying for entrance exams (like the LSAT, GRE), choosing schools, applying to schools, pursuing scholarship support, and more. I particularly enjoy helping students make connections with internship placements and other experiences that will help them decide where they want to go after graduation.

And I give these same supports to alumni, because our students and graduates are part of the college family for life.

Selected Professional Accomplishments

Honors and Awards

IFLTA Teacher of the Year Award (University Level AATSP): June 2009
Outstanding Adviser of the Year: May 2009
Excellence in Teaching Award: May 2008


Tres novelas ejemplares y tres desengaños amorosos de María de Zayas. Editor for Cervantes & Company Classics. March 2008.
The Symbolic Order and María de Zayas’s Desengaños amorosos. Dissertation. October 2002.
“Subjectivity, Sexual Difference, and Fantasy in María de Zayas’s Estragos que causa el vicio.” Romance Languages Annual2 (1997): 413-416.

Pedagogical Contributions

Alsop, Thomas, Jill Alsop, Daniel Alsop, and Sara Colburn-Alsop. Good Old Fashioned Grammar. Auburn Hills: Teacher’s Discovery, 2012.
Alsop, Thomas, Daniel Alsop, and Sara Colburn-Alsop. Ni un día sin poesía. Auburn Hills: Teacher’s Discovery, 1999.

What Students Say

“I love how she always goes out of her way to clarify concepts, answer questions, and ensure there is nothing that’s confusing. I enjoy hearing about her experiences in other countries and learning about the Hispanic culture through her stories. Outside of the classroom, she is one of my biggest supporters and is an amazing role model. It’s obvious that she loves working with her students, and would do anything she could to help them.” – Hannah Rollett ’19
“Dr. Colburn-Alsop’s teaching always goes beyond the obvious goal of the course. For example, the class Spanish in the Workplace was about more than just learning important vocabulary, it was about understanding the essence of being a true professional.” – Kristin Hughes ’18

My Favorite Book

I learned to read when I was three years old and books have always been an extremely important part of my life. I entered into college knowing that I wanted to major in English, but in my sophomore year I realized that I not only loved reading books and writing, but that I also had a serious passion for learning language and about other cultures. I figured why not major in both?! Truly, a Spanish major is like an English major; it’s just in a different language. The double major has certainly served me very well as a student and a professor.

I love to travel and have led a number of Franklin College trips. In 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2009, I led Immersive Term trips to Guadalajara, Mexico. I led a study away trip for Franklin College students to Cuba in August 2017.