Michelle Kalinski, MLC ’07

In 2007, Michelle was among the first cohort to graduate from the MLC. Now she finds herself at the World Bank, where she organizes seminars and workshops on education reform for developing countries.

During her studies as an undergraduate at Georgetown and in the MLC, Michelle focused heavily on cross-cultural communication, which has become a significant asset to her work at the World Bank. Given that she interacts with very few native English speakers, she knows firsthand how important it is to make herself understood, not only in a linguistic sense, but also in a cultural sense. She also uses her background in cross-cultural communication to oversee bilingual events and ensure the equality between the two languages represented by monitoring the translation, signage, etc.

As a student in the MLC, Michelle also used the opportunity to take classes across other departments, taking several courses in the French department related to African studies. These courses in particular have proven useful in her work at the World Bank given that her seminars on education reform are often targeted toward policy makers in French-speaking Western African countries, the very cultures that she studied.

Speaking now to the prospective MLC student, Michelle remarks that the MLC program is very tailored to the individual and will vary depending on what courses each student decides to take. For this very reason, she decided to choose the MLC program. She had a diverse set of interests and did not want to be pigeon-holed into studying just one thing. Her advice is that you should not necessarily go into the program thinking that it will suddenly shine a light on what you want to do or where you want to go with your studies. Instead, you should have at least a general idea of where your interests lie, that way you can tailor the program to fit these interests and be better able to market yourself to prospective employers once you graduate.


Francesca Di Silvio, MLC ’09

After both undergraduate and graduate work at Georgetown, Francesca is putting her linguistics training to work in her role as a research assistant for the Center for Applied Linguistics. She chose the MLC program to explore the interest in sociolinguistics she had developed as an undergrad and to learn how linguistics as a discipline could be useful in a practical work environment.

She took advantage of the MLC’s flexibility, opting to work part-time while she completed her degree. The program’s focus on cross-disciplinary professional development was one of her favorite parts of the MLC, and she specifically cites the unique Proseminar, one of the program’s core requirements, as very beneficial in helping her prepare for her post-graduation job search.

For those wondering about career applications of the MLC, Francesca jokes that working at an organization with “linguistics” in its name is a good option, but notes that the MLC helped her notice room for trained linguists in the nonprofit sector, working on development and communications projects.

She also encourages prospective students to consider pursuing an MLC degree on a part-time basis; or, if you are full-time, at least take several semesters so that you have more varied courses available to you. She notes that courses often only come up once a year or less, and sometimes a professor you would like to take is away for a semester, so it is nice to have the course options that a longer stay in the program affords.

Noelle Galos, MLC ’12

Noelle came to the MLC with a background in linguistic anthropology (and hefty dose of radicalism) from Oberlin College, where she graduated in 2008. Raised in a multilingual home with family speaking English, Hungarian, and Spanish, she focused her BA honors thesis on the construction of identity and “authenticity” in narratives of bilingual college students, and linguistic ideologies regarding their language maintenance and shift over time. Returning to her native Washington after graduation, she became involved in the emerging language access movement and found her niche in immigrant rights work with the DC Mayor’s Office on Latino Affairs and the DC Language Access Coalition. During this time, Noelle became interested in the MLC’s focus on practical applications of linguistics — specifically to explore and experience the role of researcher-practitioners in political advocacy and non-profit contexts. Taking an action-research approach to everything from hate speech to community organizing, linguistic training within the MLC program provided a range of analytic and theoretical foundations to build a broader, more interdisciplinary professional toolkit. The MLC ingrained a greater appreciation for blogging, digital curation, and digital community storytelling, which have carried over into her research and activism. Post-graduation, Noelle continues to work with non-profits and community-based organizations in the District, promoting language accessibility and narratives for social change, as well as appreciating the meaning-making potential of everyday life.

Elizabeth Miller-Cannon, MLC ’12

Elizabeth is originally from California. She received a B.A. in linguistics from the University of California, Santa Barbara where she took courses in sociolinguistics and language acquisition. In 2010, she moved to the East Coast to attend the MLC, where she was particularly interested in the topic of intercultural communication. While at Georgetown, she also worked as a tutor for the English for Heritage Language Speakers program.

After graduating, Elizabeth worked for Arlington Public Schools before taking a job at the Center for Applied Linguistics where she works as a test developer on a large-scale assessment for English learners.

Samantha Musser, MLC ’14

Samantha Musser is native Michigander and lifelong Wolverine who came to Georgetown with a B.A. in English, experience in business communications and legal research, and a growing interest in sociolinguistics. She spent the summer following her first year in the MLC interning at Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL), and found herself back at CAL while completing her last year of coursework. Still at CAL, now as a Performance-based Assessment Specialist, Sam focuses on research and development work underlying the speaking component of a large-scale, computer-delivered English language proficiency assessment for English language learners (ELLs) in grades 1-12. The discourse analytic and sociolinguistic perspective sharpened by the MLC serves her well in this work, which includes analyzing student responses to construct better speaking tasks and developing rater training materials for speaking and writing. She’s also part of a newly-formed group working to build on CAL’s strong history in issues related to language variation in society.

Holly Richardson, MLC ’11

Holly puts her training in sociolinguistics into use everyday as the Development Manager at the Catalogue for Philanthropy, a DC-based nonprofit that helps connect caring individual donors across the metro region with local, community-based nonprofits that typically fly under the radar but do incredible good for our fellow citizens. As the Development Manager, Holly is responsible for the strategy and execution behind the Catalogue’s fundraising efforts. She is a writer, a storyteller, a listener, and a synthesizer, all skills she honed thanks to training in linguistics. Committed to the nonprofit sector and supporting social good, she has worked previously at NPR, Reading Partners and KaBOOM!.


Magen Aucoin, MLC ’10

Upon graduating from the MLC in 2010, I found myself dissatisfied with the job market and decided to start my own Design and Communication Strategies company.  In June 2011, one of my clients (ANTECH Diagnostics – the largest group of veterinary research laboratories in the world) brought me on full time as a Communication Strategist (and moved me to Santa Monica).  Over the past year, I have helped manage/design/build three websites for the company.  I am responsible for creating visual/verbal content for all three sites in addition to acting as project manager for any projects related to our internet presence.  This year, we’ll be launching the company’s first ever mobile application, which I conceptualized, pushed for, then designed.

My current elevator speech at conventions and national meetings is “I’m the future”.  I then clarify that I’m responsible for crafting and managing my company’s mobile and online presences.  I love my job because it allows me to incorporate my linguistics background with my love of design.  Our company’s mission this year is improved communication with pet owners – something I’m very excited to sink my teeth into, as I truly love working for a company that helps improve quality of life for pets and, subsequently, their loving owners.

Sonia Checchia, MLC ’09

Sonia is a communications and marketing consultant with expertise in strategic communications, change management, internal communications, brand management, messaging, and event planning.

Sonia’s interest in intercultural communication, fascination with misunderstandings, and passion for creative work has set the stage for a career with language as the protagonist. Sonia has applied her training in linguistics to her work in marketing and corporate training (including diversity and inclusion, leadership development, and career planning).

Sonia was previously at Booz Allen Hamilton, a management consulting firm in McLean, VA. Her passion for intercultural exchange began early in her career, where she coordinated university study abroad programs for American University in Washington, DC, and Madrid, Spain.

Sonia speaks Spanish and Italian, loves yoga, and is addicted to NPR. She lives in Indiana and is on the Community Advisory Board for The Three Rivers Language Center at Indiana University Purdue University Fort Wayne. She leads a networking group for linguists on LinkedIn and blogs at Meta Talk Café.

Steven Kellems, MLC ’12

Steven is originally from Illinois, where he attended the University of Illinois. After graduating with his BS in Psychology and Italian, Steven moved to northern Italy and taught English. During undergrad he was always interested in Linguistics, so he decided to attend the MLC program at Georgetown. It is here that he realized his passion for politics and how language is used in politics to achieve many different political goals.

After graduating from Georgetown, Steven used his knowledge from analyzing political discourse and his digital marketing knowledge from an internship at the Center for American Progress to his position as a Digital Strategist in a DC firm that consults with political campaigns.

After 4 years in the DC area, Steven decided to move to Charlotte, NC where he currently works as a Content Marketing Manager at LendingTree. In this position, he still gets to use his linguistic knowledge to develop content for LendingTree’s website to help consumers find information on various financial products including credit cards, mortgages and personal loans.

Elizabeth Merkhofer, MLC ’13

Liz Merkhofer came to Georgetown to focus on language in use, and was able to pursue diverse interests with the flexibility of linguistics coursework and the MLC thesis option. Turning to Twitter to collect large corpora to study ‘singular they,’ Liz came to use computational methods to organize and analyze her data. Her thesis work brought perspectives from ethnographic and discourse analytic coursework to a large-scale dataset. Liz is now working as a Data Scientist at Berico Technologies.

Marni Myers, MLC ’10

Marni Myers graduated from Georgetown’s MLC program in May 2010. She now works as a Manager of Linguistic Insights and Analysis at Verilogue, Inc., where she applies her sociolinguistics training to analyzing doctor-patient conversations in an effort to help pharmaceutical companies improve their marketing, branding, and communications, and to improve communication in the doctor’s office. She draws on fundamental principles of discourse and conversation analysis to inform her work and deliver meaningful insights for Verilogue’s clients.

Marni has more than 10 years of professional experience, most recently (before Verilogue) as a Strategic Communications Consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton, where she wrote newsletters, brochures, and web content that informed more than 1,000 people every month, and used a variety of social media tools to publicize events and reach her audience. Before working at Booz Allen, Marni spent several years traveling the world for the Foreign Service, including learning Farsi and living in the Middle East.

Greg Niedt, MLC ’11

Greg graduated from the MLC in Spring 2011 and is currently living in New York City. Greg works as Translation Project Manager for Sprung Language Solutions, a translation company located in Midtown Manhattan. His tasks include working with clients to determine their translation needs, managing the translation project, and both conducting and delegating a variety of linguistics, editorial, and design work. In Greg’s own words: “Our projects can tackle many languages at once and get very technical, so it’s good for TippingSprung to have keen-eyed linguists on board!”

Greg’s MA thesis, titled Arabic Accent Perception and Prejudice in the USA, elicited attitudes of native English speakers in the US towards a range of speakers with Arabic accents, and correlated the results with interviews conducted his Arabic speakers about their experiences of social stigma and prejudice in mainstream American society. Now, Greg is taking his experience in sociolinguistics to the translation industry.

Carolyn Reed, MLC ’12

Carolyn graduated from Georgetown’s MLC program in Spring 2012 and currently works as an Analyst in Linguistic Insights and Analytics where she applies her training in discourse, ethnography and network theory to Verilogue, Inc.’s unique approach to market research in the pharmaceutical industry.

Prior to joining the MLC family, Carolyn completed her BA in Linguistics and Spanish at the University of Florida (Go Gators!). Her professional path has taken her from the Horse Protection Association of Florida, to the Migrant Education Program, across the ocean to Tsinghua Experimental School in Shenzhen, China, and to Georgetown University’s Arabic and Islamic Studies Department where she worked throughout the completion of her coursework.

When she’s not working, you’ll most likely find Carolyn glued to her Kindle, obsessing over office supplies and/or trying to catch some rays!

Kathryn Ticknor, MLC ’12

Kathryn Ticknor is the Research Director for inVibe labs, a healthcare market research company that helps healthcare organizations better understand their customers by capturing authentic stories and translating sound science into actionable insights. Kathryn’s healthcare research experience includes top-100 pharma/biotech companies, strategic partners, the FDA, and multiple hospital systems. She has experience conducting ethnographic, speech and text, quantitative, and qualitative research. She has also managed a wide range of business objectives for clients including patient activation, engagement and satisfaction, culture of quality, concept testing, physician-patient interactions and health outcomes. With her linguistics education and her professional experience, Kathryn is very adept at delivering high-quality research projects focusing not only on what people say but also how and why they say it.

Higher Education

Hanwool Choe, MLC ’15

Hanwool Choe is continuing her academic career in the department of linguistics at Georgetown University, upon graduating from the MLC in May, 2015. Her concentration is digital discourse analysis in sociolinguistics. Using theories and methods of interactional sociolinguistics and discourse analysis, she looks for the discursive transition from (face-to-face) spoken communication to written digital communication. She learned a lot during her MLC years and it was the MLC program that truly helped her to figure out what direction she should go in. She loves the MLC program where she had many opportunities to receive training and excel as a sociolinguist in and out of academia.

Alison DeBoer, MLC ’13

Alison currently works as the Associate Director of Graduate Admissions at Georgetown. Specifically, Alison manages the office’s admissions systems, assists in recruiting students, and acts as the liaison between the graduate school and various graduate programs. She has found that her linguistic coursework in conversational discourse analysis, social media, ethnography, and network analysis has helped her immensely in this position.

In her free time, Alison enjoys running, reading, cooking, and spending time with family and friends.