Since the inception of the MLC, our graduates have pursued a range of different career paths. Click a name to find out more about any one of our alumni and their professional and research interests.
Marcia Aguiniga, MLC ’12
Marcia came to the MLC with a background in interpretation. Her goal was to become more aware of cultural differences and to learn how to break down barriers in communication. During her time in the MLC, she took classes in Intercultural Communication, Language and the USA, Forensic Linguistics, and General Linguistics, which all broadened her perspective in seeing how people relate to one another. Her future plans are to continue in the field of interpretation and translation with the goal of one day working for the State Department or an NGO.
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.
Alexandra Botti, MLC ’14
Alexandra Botti is a Massachusetts native and a 2008 graduate of Smith College. After honing her communications skills through a Boston-based career in PR and writing, she followed her passion for language to Georgetown. She has taken classes in Discourse Analysis, language and identity, and forensic linguistics, among others. A dual French-American citizen with a lifelong fascination with issues of culture and language, she hopes to apply what she learns in the MLC to a future international communications role…or some other fantastic work that represents real-world applications of sociolinguistics. Her “other life” is as a professional dancer and ballet teacher (to students ages five to 75!).
Sonia Checchia, MLC ’09
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.
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 Cline, MLC ’09
Alison is currently working as Executive Assistant to the British Consul general in Chicago, IL, and uses her sociolinguistic and cross-cultural communication skills daily at work.
Follow Alison on Twitter @glossolatres!
Ryan Connolly, MLC ’10
Ryan Michael Connolly is a new writer and filmmaker who
recently left behind a successful two-decade national security
career to pursue the great passions of his life. He earned his
bachelor’s degree in political science from the U.S. Naval
Academy. He later earned an MA in National Security Affairs
(East Asian Security Studies) from the Naval Postgraduate
School and an MA in Linguistics from Georgetown University.
Ryan served 15 years on active duty as a U.S. Marine Corps officer. The
highlights of his career include working at the Pentagon on U.S.-Asia politicalmilitary
affairs, service in China and Japan, and a combat tour in Iraq. He is fluent
in Spanish and Mandarin Chinese.
Ryan is currently a full-time graduate student in the Film and Television
Production MFA Program, School of Cinematic Arts, University of Southern
California. His areas of focus are writing and directing.
Ryan is currently working on the screenplay for A Place in the Dust, a featurelength
film that will be shot on location in Nepal during the summer of 2016. The
film will tell the story of a Nepali-born American who was orphaned as a child and
raised in the U.S. foster care system. After serving in the Marines, he returns to
Nepal in search of a family he believes to be still alive. His journey turns into a
tale of revenge and a battle for his very soul.
Ryan and his fellow filmmakers intend to use the film to help promote the casting
of Asian and Asian-Americans in the U.S. film industry and to stimulate the artistic
community in Nepal. They will also partner with or create a small humanitarian
assistance organization, in an effort to test an innovate model for using filmmaking
as a vehicle to provide assistance such as education, medical care, and construction
relief to the local communities where a film is being made.
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. Feel free to reach out to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.
Follow her on Twitter @ngalzam or visit her e-portfolio/blog at: noellegaloszambrano.wordpress.com!
Caroline Hennessy, MLC ’12
Caroline is a passionate social justice advocate and has worked extensively with Latino populations in the DC area. She also juggles work in legal writing and translation.
Katherine Hilton, MLC ’12
Katherine is originally from Maine and studied Spanish at Dartmouth College before beginning the MLC program. While at Georgetown, she took classes on sociolinguistic variation, discourse analysis, and intercultural communication, and during her second year she wrote a MA thesis on the effects of epistemicity, turn-taking and politeness on the use of discourse marker ‘like’. During her two years in DC, she also tutored English learners through the Center for Language, Education & Development and taught after-school reading classes at an elementary school.
Currently, Katherine is pursuing a PhD in Linguistics at Stanford University. Her interests include prosodic variation, discourse structure, discourse phonetics, morphosyntactic variation, and the negotiation of interpersonal relationships. In her current dissertation work, she is analyzing how people use meaningful combinations of prosodic and discourse structural information to interpret moments of overlapping speech. While at Stanford, she has been heavily involved in the Interactional Sociophonetics Lab and has participated in the Voices of California dialectology project.
Jen Johnson, MLC ’14
Jen hails from the Pacific Northwest. Before joining the Georgetown MLC community, she earned her BA in Linguistics with a minor in Sociology & Anthropology from Swarthmore College. At Swarthmore, she worked with the Living Tongues Institute & the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians on the documentation and revitalization of Siletz Dee-ni, an Athabaskan language spoken not far from her family home in Oregon. She wrote her undergraduate thesis on lexical acculturation in Siletz Dee-ni. Jen has interests in both Pacific Northwest Indian languages and Ethio-Semitic languages. Her current research interests include discourse analysis, narrative, intercultural communication, and the intersection of development and folk discourses surrounding issues of environment and gender.
Jen also loves to cook and explore DC.
Lauren Johnson, MLC ’13
Lauren Johnson is originally from Western New York. After studying theater as an undergraduate at SUNY Fredonia, she moved to Chicago, where she was a member of an off-Loop theater company and acted as the co-chair of their annual benefit committee for 3 seasons.
Lauren came to the MLC hoping to combine her love of theater with her interest in communication. Her coursework focused on discourse analysis, ethnography, multimodal interaction, and forensic linguistics, as well as 6 weeks studying French language and culture to experience the challenges of cross-cultural communication first hand.
Her research has included work on media as a source for narrative introduction in conversation among family members, competing frames and tourist story creation at the Lincoln Memorial, the role of vocal technique in the phonetic choices of Beatles’ songs, linguists’ written reports in the American judicial system, and the use of video documentation and a conversational analytic approach to investigate teasing relationships among family members in Namibia.
She is especially interested in how the research and analysis of human interaction can help brands to improve their ability to identify and tailor their messages to their target audiences.
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.
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.
Follow Steven on Twitter @sakellems
Madoka Koide, MLC ’11
Madoka came to the MLC with a background in cross-cultural communication, biology and music. Her goal is to find practical application of the study of intercultural communication. Right now she is taking General Linguistics, Discourse Analysis: Conversation, Intercultural Communication, and Constructing National Identity through Communication. These courses she believes will give her an up-to-date grasp of the discipline, and insight into the field from multiple perspectives. Because this is an interdisciplinary field, she is excited to be exposed to increased collaboration across disciplinary boundaries and discover links among contemporary scholars. Her future plans are to apply the findings of these researchers to the worlds of professional training, and promoting intercultural dialogue, awareness, education, and understanding.
Victoria Kirgesner, MLC ’14
Victoria was born and raised just south of Cleveland, Ohio, and is a recent graduate of the University at Buffalo, (a.k.a. SUNY Buffalo). As an undergraduate, she majored in both linguistics and classics, with a minor in music. Although she enjoys studying every aspect of linguistics, she is particularly interested in phonetics, phonology, and sociolinguistics. During her time in the MLC, she hopes to investigate further the field of sociolinguistics in the hopes of applying it to a career in the government or public relations. In her spare time, Victoria enjoys reading, writing, and taking a casual walk or bike ride.
Adrienne Lynett, MLC ’11
I came to the MLC with a background in journalism, both in the U.S. and abroad. I earned my B.A. from UCLA in English literature, with a minor in political science. I came to the MLC program because of its dual preparation in linguistics and communication, which aligns well with my interests in language and the media/politics. Eventually, I’d like to be able to continue to do media-related work, possibly by doing content analysis or survey work and using the discourse analysis skills I hone while at Georgetown. I am taking classes in sociolinguistics, syntax and statistics, which I hope will prepare me for further linguistic study as well as field research and language analysis in general.
Elvira Magomedova, MLC ’12
Originally from Russia, I came to the MLC with a background in Linguistics and a strong desire to expand my knowledge in the study of intercultural communication. I took variety of courses, such as Sociolinguistics, Ethnography of Communication, Intercultural Communication and Discourse Analysis that increased my understanding of issues of linguistic and cultural diversity. I graduated from the program in May 2012 and I am currently looking for a position in an organization that is committed to promote intercultural awareness through education and training, mediate misunderstandings and facilitate communication across diverse groups.
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.
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.
Yasmin Morgan, MLC ’14
Yasmin is from Central Florida. She earned her BA in both Japanese and Linguistics from the University of Florida in 2010, developing an intense curiosity for all the ways in which language works. After completing an internship in Washington DC, Yasmin found the perfect blend of linguistics and its professional applications in the MLC program at Georgetown. She has taken courses in Forensic Linguistics, Phonetics and Phonology, Gender and Language, and more. She hopes to apply these skills to a career in government and/or work around Washington DC. She likes traveling, comic books, the New York Yankees, and watching way too much television in her spare time.
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.
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.
Takafumi Ohyama, MLC ’13
Takafumi Ohyama grew up in Tokyo, Japan and studied English Language at International Christian University. His research interests include sociolinguistics, and he is particularly interested in narrative analysis. He would like to explore the structure and function of storytelling in various contexts. In his free time, Takafumi enjoys cycling, playing soccer with his friends, and reading.
Shannon Pierce, MLC ’12
Shannon is originally from Fairfax, VA. She studied English and American Studies at Cornell and graduated from the MLC program in December 2012. Her interests include the linguistics of marketing and literacy development. She is currently the sales and marketing intern at John F. Blair, Publisher in Winston-Salem, NC where she is gaining valuable experience in the publishing industry and enjoying getting to know more about her Southern home.
Sara Ray, MLC ’10
Originally from South Bend, IN, Sara received a BA in Psychology from the University of South Carolina, taught English for the JET Programme, and was an English Language instructor for several years before pursuing her love of Linguistics at Georgetown. In the MLC, she focused mainly on Sociolinguistics and Discourse Analysis. Currently, she works as an ethnographer and researcher for Ogilvy Commonhealth Insights and Analytics as well as an analyst for Marketeching. These two jobs allow her to put her Discourse Analysis skills to use while still allowing her to pursue the love of being a stay at home mom, teaching ESL at community centers, and traveling the country. As the mother of a toddler, her current interests are sleep and the occasional glass of wine.
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!
Zainab Senhaji Rhazi, MLC ’12
Zainab currently works as Senior Analyst for Africa at Georgetown University Medical Center’s Imaging Science and Information Systems Center.
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!.
Amany Rishmawi, MLC ’11
Amany came to the MLC with a background in English Language and Literature. During her time with the MLC, she took classes in Language and Social Life, Language and Culture, Sociolinguistics, and Intercultural Communication, developing interests in indigenous/endangered languages, language and identity (language loss and acquisition for immigrants) and inter/ cross-cultural communication. Amany’s future plans include teaching, and working in diversity training, or in politics, with human rights issues.
Matthew Ross, MLC ’12
Matt enrolled in the MLC program with some background in Linguistics, as he had been a Psychology-Linguistics joint major as an undergrad at Emory University. Originally from Raleigh, North Carolina, Matt later returned home to N.C. to get his Master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology. Prior to joining the MLC “crew,” he became heavily involved in the realm of autism research, as well as working directly with two teenagers with autism. In addition to autism communication, one of the main subjects Matt was initially interested in pursuing within the Linguistics program at Georgetown was accents and dialects, as he has a fascination with analyzing them (and attempting to emulate them!). While he still maintains those interests to some extent since joining the MLC, he has further developed an interest in medical discourse as well as his latest language-related passion, forensic linguistics. Matt looks forward to an opportunity to use his discourse analysis and sociolinguistic knowledge to help improve communication in either medical or legal domains (or both).
Kimberly Shepard, MLC ’12
Kim Shepard is an online content developer, currently spending her weekdays at This Old House magazine and weekends writing for Orzata, the image analysis platform. Both roles combine her training in visual communication and branding with her love of engaging users. As a linguist and anthropologist, she has always been drawn to understanding people’s experiences and how their experiences impact behavior. Kim is excited to be applying her academic training to market research and consumer-focused communications efforts.
Kim is from the great state of New Jersey and graduated with a BA in Anthropology from Barnard College. At Georgetown, she investigated institutional branding, digital strategy and positioning, intercultural communication, social media, visual communication and design. In her free time, Kim enjoys gardening, photography, and watching basketball.
Anissa Sorokin, MLC ’08
Anissa came to the MLC program with a Bachelor’s degree in English literature and a Master’s degree in education. She had become interested in linguistics rather late in her undergraduate studies, and she decided that she wanted to know a little bit more about the field before she committed herself to a career.
She chose the MLC program because she wasn’t ready to commit to a four- or five-year Ph.D. program in linguistics, and she thought she might want to use her academic skills in a job outside of academia, perhaps in business or government. The MLC program was a perfect fit for her because it provided some of the rigor and theoretical grounding that the Ph.D. program offered, but it also encouraged her to explore how she could make a non-academic career for herself with her training.
Through the MLC program, she was offered an internship at the Census Bureau as a research sociolinguist, where she now helps develop questionnaires, test surveys, and review translations of English materials into Russian. The MLC program also helped her come to the realization that she did indeed want to pursue a Ph.D., but not specifically in linguistics. She is now in her second year of an interdisciplinary Ph.D. program in Language, Literacy, and Culture at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, where she works as a teaching assistant in the English department.
Anissa cites her background in sociolinguistics as a terrific asset, whether it’s helping her work with students on their writing or giving her a unique perspective in researching areas that are traditionally in the realms of sociology, rhetoric, or cultural studies. She says she truly feels that she’s living the best of both worlds since her professional life strikes a nice balance both inside and outside the ivory tower.
It’s this dual focus that she considers to be the most valuable thing the MLC program provided her—an opportunity to be a part of two worlds and make her own choices about where to take her career, her research, and her life. She sees a variety of career possibilities—continuing to work in the government, establishing herself as a consultant, volunteering to help ESL learners, and teaching high school or college students. That said, her advice to prospective and incoming students would be this: though the MLC program has wonderful resources, students need to be serious and pro-active participants in their education and professional development. The opportunities to do great things will present themselves, but it’s up to students to take advantage of them.
John Spangler, MLC ’12
John is a recent alumnus of the University of Michigan where he majored in Linguistics and Political Science. Most of his work there involved political language, as well as a senior paper discussing the sociolinguistic influences on the early development of the Gullah dialect. A self-described geek and political junkie, John is a valued member of any trivia-game team and enjoys NBC’s Thursday night comedy lineup, as well as painting in his spare time. At Georgetown John hopes to continue his current line of studies, and is looking forward to rejoining a college band.
Esther Surenthiraraj, MLC ’13
Esther is from Sri Lanka, an island in the Indian Ocean (it’s called the ‘Pearl of the Indian Ocean’ and it really is!). She is a Tamil, an ethnic/linguistic minority group in Sri Lanka that was involved in the civil war that ended in 2009. Esther says: “A fun and ironic fact is that my husband is Sinhalese, the Sri Lankan majority ethnic and linguistic group that was at war with the Tamil. A bonus point in my marriage is that it exposes me to a different culture and language every day!” Esther majored in English at the University of Colombo, Sri Lanka where she developed an interest in linguistics. She joined the department as an instructor after graduation, and currently teaches language- and linguistics-oriented courses there. Esther is interested in sociolinguistics, language ideology, language rights and varieties of English. Apart from working at the university, her exposure to teaching ESL/EFL also gave her a taste of the field. Esther hopes that the MLC will develop her research skills and hone her knowledge of language and society.
Casey Tesfaye, MLC ’13
Casey came to the MLC with a multidisciplinary research background. Academically and professionally, she has worked across a number of fields, focusing on quantitative analysis techniques and survey methodology. However, she believes that the best research draws from a variety of field methods. She used her time in the MLC to expand her research skills, learning methods such as discourse analysis, microanalysis, ethnography of communication, and corpus analytics. She is especially interested in computer mediated communication and cultural borders of all types.
Casey blogs at Free Range Research and tweets @FreeRangeRsrch
Kathryn Ticknor, MLC ’12
Kathryn came to the MLC with a double major in French and Linguistics. During her undergraduate studies, she found herself most interested in the social aspect and applications of linguistics. This same focus is what attracted her to the MLC’s curriculum, which would allow her to bridge these concentrations with work in the public sphere. Her goal is to use the elements of intercultural communication, the ethnography of speaking, audience design and other sociolinguistic research methods in order to help promote social justice causes through effective and empowering communication.
Renee Tomlin, MLC ’11
Renee came to the MLC with a background in general linguistics and French. Her goal is to explore and apply sociolinguistics in every-day and professional spheres, especially in the corporate community. She has taken courses on Language and New Media, Contemporary Corporate Communications, and Discourse Analysis–all of which have sharpened her analytical tool-kit for the workplace. Her courses, professors, and cohort have all positively influenced her career path in Global Brand Communications. Also a post-collegiate runner, she is currently pursuing a professional career as an athlete, which in turn will combine with her linguistic skill set as she enters the corporate side of the sports industry.
Phan Ton, MLC ’11
I came to the MLC with a background in working with multicultural groups. My work with the diverse groups of the federal agencies brought me to the MLC with the goal of approaching training and communication from an interactional standpoint and with the aim of finding practical application of linguistic concepts in my everyday work. Approaches to Discourse was particularly helpful in developing material for my work projects specifically delivering messages about new systems in organizational change. My future plan is to bring the application of linguistic concepts to the consulting field.
Angela Wang, MLC ’11
Angela is currently working as a consultant in the People and Change advisory at Price Waterhouse Cooper.
Alicia Ward, MLC ’13
Alicia Ward is a native Nevadan. She discovered the joys of linguistics in high school and has never wavered in her devotion to the field. Currently, she is loving her courses in the MLC and hopes to go on to earn a Ph.D. in Sociolinguistics. She is deeply interested in the power of language to define identity and in the way language both shapes and is shaped by society. Alicia has always loved embracing other languages, other cultures, and other ways of being. Her appreciation of differences has led her to a position in Office of International Programs where she works to support Georgetown’s international community. When she isn’t in the office or buried in coursework, Alicia enjoys cooking, wandering the great outdoors, and planning her next epic journey abroad.
Julia Weisman, MLC ’14
Julia graduated from Carleton College in Minnesota in 2010 with a major in French and a budding interest in linguistics. She spent a year teaching English to adorable French elementary-schoolers and used this time abroad to cultivate her growing interest in the social nuances of language. She is now looking forward to studying discourse analysis and pragmatics in a variety of domains, including forensic linguistics and health communication. Originally from outside Boston, she enjoys movies, pub trivia, making horrible puns, and, of course, a good cup of chowdah.
Josh Ziegler, MLC ’11
I have a background in journalism, graphic design, and video production, but I’m interested in just about all forms of communication, as well as a multitude of completely unrelated fields, from woodworking to computer science. I plan to take advantage of the MLC’s flexibility as a program to gain a background in both the foundations of linguistic analysis as well as natural language processing with the goal of improving human-computer communication. So far I’ve taken Intro to Sociolinguistics and Computational Tools for Linguists, and I plan to continue following a diverse range of courses by taking both Natural Language Processing and Discourse Analysis.