Professor Thurston-Griswold completed a B.A. (summa cum laude) in music and Spanish secondary education from the State University of New York at Cortland, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Hispanic literature from The University of Texas at Austin. He has been an instructor and lecturer in Spanish at several U.S. universities and an English as a Foreign Language teacher and guidance counselor at the Colegio Metodista, a private school in San Jose, Costa Rica.
His areas of expertise include Spanish and Spanish-American literature, Spanish civilization and culture, and Spanish language pedagogy. A member of various professional organizations, he has published articles in journals such as Hispania, Latin American Literary Review, Revista Iberoamericana, and Hispanic Journal and has delivered papers at a variety of conferences. In recent years, he has developed materials and presented workshops on the uses of Hispanic music in the Spanish classroom to build language and cultural proficiency.
He has received numerous awards, including a fellowship and publication grant for his dissertation, titled El idealismo sintatico de don Juan Valera: Teor-a y practica. (Maryland: Scripta Humanistica, 1990). In 2003, he received the Beeghly Award for Distinguished Teaching, which is awarded annually at Juniata to a senior faculty member in recognition of teaching excellence.
He has participated in and led service learning trips to Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, and Honduras. In the summer of 1997 he led a group of 15 secondary and post-secondary educators to Costa Rica as the project director for a 4-week Fulbright Group Travel Seminar titled 'Culture, Ecology, and Democracy in Costa Rica.' In the spring semester of 1998, he participated in a faculty exchange at the Universidad San Francisco de Quito (Ecuador), where he taught two Spanish literature courses and an Advanced Spanish Grammar course for international students. He spent his first sabbatical during the spring of 2001 conducting research in Madrid in Spain's National Library on the topic 'Ideological and Aesthetic Shift in Fin de Siglo Spain (1890-1905).' His second sabbatical during the 2007-08 academic year was spent in Guatemala conducting research on Guatemalan testimonial narrative and volunteering at the Asturias Academy, a private, non-profit, pre-K through grade 12 school that provides a transformative educational experience to students from low-income families.
As an advocate for peace and justice in developing Latin American nations, he has arranged a wide variety of programs which examine these issues for the Juniata and Huntingdon communities. In 1998 he initiated and continues to coordinate a partnership which seeks to foster a relationship of mutual understanding and support among various individuals and organizations in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, and Quetzaltenango (Xela), Guatemala. Since the summer of 2002, he has organized many delegations and service learning trips to the country, most recently the Juniata Concert Choir's 2013 spring break tour and medical and educational delegations to the Asturias Academy during the summer of 2014.
He and his wife Joanna former school psychologist who currently teaches a blended kindergarten and first grade class at the State College Friends School. They have two children: Will, who was born in January 1997; and Kate, who arrived on the scene in March of 1999. When he is not teaching or parenting, he enjoys distance running, playing the piano and guitar, and singing in choral ensembles.