When Honey Shackelford ’76 arrived in the United States as a child, she spoke fluent Spanish but couldn’t speak a word of English. By the time she graduated from the University of West Georgia, she spoke both languages fluently and had a bachelor’s degree in Spanish.
Now, in an announcement made during National Hispanic Heritage Month, Shackelford is helping other students who have a passion for the Spanish language through the Honey and Richard Shackelford Scholarship for Spanish majors at UWG.
“UWG had such a positive impact on my life that Rick and I felt it was important to give something back,” Shackelford said. “I came to the college as an admittedly naive teenager, and four years later, I was a confident young woman with a college degree and a job at a large international company. Also, with the increase in the Hispanic population in Georgia, we felt it was time that UWG provided a scholarship opportunity for students who are passionate about the Spanish language and culture.”
Born in Peru, Shackelford’s mother was of Peruvian descent, and her father was from upstate New York. Although he spoke English, Spanish was the language practiced in their household. At age 4, Shackelford’s family moved to the United States and eventually settled on a dairy farm in Buchanan, Georgia.
Shackelford attended school in Haralson County, where “a kind and sweet teacher” came to her rescue in her struggles to learn English. Since the teacher wanted to learn Spanish, the two were able to teach each other their respective languages.
“She took the time to teach me English, and I, in turn, helped her with Spanish,” said Shackelford. “I owe her so much for what she did for me.”
In high school, Shackelford met her future husband, Rick. When the pair graduated in 1972, they both decided to attend then-West Georgia College and Shackelford began working toward a Spanish major.
“I thought it was going to be an easy subject for me, but I was so wrong,” she said. “It ended up being a challenge – but a rewarding one.”
When Shackelford graduated from UWG, she had earned a Spanish major and minors in psychology and education. Her plans were to become a Spanish teacher, but fate led her down a different path.
“An opportunity arose for me upon graduation to work as a Spanish translator in the international department at Southwire Company,” she said. “As a result, I never used my Spanish for teaching, but I loved translating for customers and others who needed translation assistance.”
Shackelford not only received a top-tier education at UWG, but she also enjoyed a rich, holistic experience, joining the Delta Delta Delta sorority. Last year, she enhanced her commitment to the university, being appointed as a trustee for the UWG Foundation, the university’s nonprofit organization that receives and distributes all gifts to the university.
As for the students who will receive the scholarship, Shackelford had some words of wisdom.
“Continue to be successful in your studies, and love your time at UWG,” she said. “I am so grateful for the many opportunities this very special school gave me. The experience changed my life. You are lucky to have the same opportunity, and I sincerely hope that our scholarship will be of some help to you in making the best of your time at the university and beyond.”
For more information about how you can make an impact by supporting UWG through an endowment, scholarship or annual giving, please visit the UWG Give West page.