Providence High grad finds a passion for Spanish despite a challenge

Caroline Aufgebauer displays her Spanish skills

Caroline Aufgebauer is mastering Spanish despite having a hearing impairment that make it more difficult to learn a foreign language.
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Caroline Aufgebauer is mastering Spanish despite having a hearing impairment that make it more difficult to learn a foreign language.

During her four years at Providence High School, Caroline Aufgebauer found a passion for the Spanish language.

Her family moved when she was 3 from Germany to Miami to live closer to her grandmother, and then relocated to to Charlotte when she was in the third grade.

In middle school, she initially wanted to take French. When she couldn’t get into the class, she was placed in Spanish and found a love of the language.

She achieved a bronze distinction on the National Spanish Examination that includes a listening portion. Yet, it was her final Spanish class of high school – which has a focus on listening comprehension – that gave her the hardest time.

Aufgebauer has lived with moderate to severe hearing loss since birth, which makes comprehending verbal conversation more difficult.

During an Advanced Placement test, she was allowed to use special headphones to complete the listening portion, but didn’t get extra time for replaying or processing the spoken words.

“Once you start talking to me in Spanish it gets very, very difficult,” Aufgebauer said.

Aufgebauer never allowed her hearing impairment to stop her pursuit of mastering Spanish.

“Caroline is resilient beyond belief,” said Carmen Calvar, a Spanish teacher at Providence. “She will never single herself out.”

In the fall, Aufgebauer will attend UNC-Chapel Hill, in hopes of majoring in global studies with a focus in global health. She also plans to take advanced Spanish classes too.

The medical field and Spanish are her two passions, and she is excited to explore them further.

“You always have students who make themselves known, ask questions and do the things we encourage them to do,” said Lindsay Walker, a guidance counselor at Providence High.

Aufgebauer also earned the Covenant Scholarship at UNC, which helps low-income scholars within the program to graduate debt-free. Without the scholarship she was afraid she would not be able to attend college.

In the future, she wants to live abroad and find a way to tie in her love of medicine and Spanish, possibly through Doctors Without Borders.

Tyler Fleming: 704-358-5355, @tyler_fleming96

About this series

The Observer asked readers and school leaders for suggestions of standout graduates. Today, we continue a series of stories about students who illustrate a range of accomplishments, including some who overcame significant obstacles.