August 29, 2014 - September 05, 2014
There’s more to Andy Pullen than what meets the eye.
Self-described as a “laid-back introvert”, the Spanish instructor is also an unpretentious artist—a lover of music, photography, history and artifacts, language and linguistics. He has two bachelor’s degrees in two very different fields, and he once went by the name Alvin Hall (there’s a great explanation behind it).
A native of Horn Lake, Pullen initially hoped for a career in radio broadcast, receiving associate’s and bachelor’s degree in Communications and Broadcast. After college, he landed a gig with the University of Memphis’ radio station WUMR from 2003 until 2011.
“I look back at the time I worked at WUMR and it was just a lot of fun,” reminisced Pullen.
While on-air Saturday mornings, Pullen used the pseudonym Alvin Hall.
“I took my grandfather on my mother’s side—his middle name was Alvin. My grandfather on my father’s side, his middle name was Hall,” he explained. “Some people who worked at the station didn’t even know my real name was Andy, so I just became use to responding to that name too.”
Although it was the experience of a lifetime, Pullen’s time at WUMR also caused him to seriously re-evaluate his career plans.
“I love music, and I always thought that being on the radio would be such fun, and it was. But it’s something that I knew I couldn’t keep up with because it’s just not practical,” he said.“I realized that career field would never pay a ton of money, so I decided to go into something else that would beneficial, something that had more of a demand.”
After careful consideration, he decided to become a Spanish teacher.
Pullen had a typical exposure to the foreign language—watching Sesame Street as a kid, singing Feliz Navidad in elementary school and taking Spanish courses in high school and college.
Each time, he found himself more and more fascinated.
So he went back to school part-time, eventually earning a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Spanish from the University of Mississippi and landing his first position at Coahoma Community College in 2011.
Pullen said most of his students come to him with some exposure to Spanish or French, which is very similar, but a few have had no foreign language courses at all.
“It may make them feel like they’re behind already, but they’re really not. We start at the very bottom as if no one in the room knew anything about Spanish,” he said.
“Most of my students take my class because it is a requirement. A handful of them take it as an elective—but not many. They’re afraid of my class like its calculus, but it’s really not that bad.”
Pullen said he enjoys showing his students the similarities of different languages.
“Spanish is the only language that I know really well, but I do know some Portuguese, and a little bit of Italian and French. I like to show my students the similarities and encourage them to use what they know and apply it to other languages.”
Besides exposing his students to new material, Pullen also enjoys fellowshipping with his colleagues, who he describes as “awesome” and “very supportive”.
Pullen uses his influence as an instructor to encourage his students to explore new things.
“As you get older, I tell my students that they don’t want to look back and regret some of the things they didn’t do. I try to get them to learn what they can, when they can and to take every opportunity,” he said.