Editor’s note: This is our second “where-are-they-now” feature. The first, about Thomas Brew, Villa class ’69, is at the bottom of this post. Send yours today to email@example.com and include a picture.
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Dr. Jhon C. Akers, associate professor in foreign languages and associate director of the Success Initiative, came to Wofford in 1993 from North Carolina State University where he was the coordinator of the Spanish section in the department of foreign languages and literatures. He is a cum laude graduate of Middlebury College, Vermont, and earned a Ph.D. in Hispanic languages and literatures from UCLA.
The author of several articles on Spanish and Mexican American literature, he has presented research to the Modern Language Association, the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese, the Philological Association of the Carolinas, and the state language organization of North Carolina. He has also published articles on Carl Sandburg’s love of the classical guitar and has compiled a collection of all of Sandburg’s guitar-inspired writings.
Along with his work in the Success Initiative at Wofford, Prof. Akers teaches in the department of modern languages and has led January Interim groups to Cuernavaca, Mexico. He is the advisor to the Wofford chapter of Sigma Delta Pi Spanish Honor Society and was elected as the national organization’s vice president for the Southeast. Recently, he began a chapter of Rotaract at Wofford, working as a Rotarian with the downtown Spartanburg Rotary to develop career and service opportunities for Wofford students.
An avid classical guitarist, he has presented more than eighty programs at Wofford, The University of South Carolina School of Music, Furman, Notre Dame University, Piccolo Spoleto Festival in Charleston, SC, the North Carolina School of the Arts, etc. He has been at Carl Sandburg Home as a featured performer of the annual Poetry Celebration and the Folk Festival in May—the only classical artist to bridge the two events, most recently in May 2006. He appeared in Cuernavaca, Mexico, as a guest of the Cultural Institute of the State of Morelos and has traveled to Winterthur, Switzerland, with a group of Spartanburg Philharmonic soloists, representing Spartanburg in a cultural exchange. He has taught courses at Wofford on the evolution of the classical guitar and its ties to the Spanish vihuela. Recently, his transcription of an original composition of Andrés Segovia composed for Carl Sandburg was published by the Columbia Music Company of Chapel Hill, NC, and with permission of Segovia’s widow. Spring 2005 he performed the opening event at Sandburg’s birth home for the annual Carl Sandburg Days festival in Galesburg, Illinois, sharing the stage with Illinois poet laureate Kevin Stein and releasing his collection of Sandburg’s guitar-inspired writings, A Small Friend—Carl Sandburg’s Guitar, published that spring as well.
Dr. Akers received recognition from the Wofford Campus Union in 1997 as “Faculty Member of the Year.” He is also twice recipient of a Western North Carolina Regional Artist grant to produce his CD on Sandburg and Segovia and publish his book.
He resides in Saluda, North Carolina, with his wife Karen Schinke of Berea, Ohio; their daughter Alessandra; son Isaías Emiliano; and twins Belén and Matías. Jhon is a member of the Unity Church of Arden, NC; he performs monthly at the Saluda Presbyterian Church.