Linguistics Outstanding Graduates

Photo of Jess Costanza

The WWU Linguistics faculty are so enthusiastic about the questions we pose as students — I was always encouraged to explore my own interests through assignments and extracurricular projects. The support and mentorship I felt from the Department’s chair, faculty, and manager were vital, and I went after more opportunities than I even knew were available to me. I found a love for linguistic communications, using my linguistic training to communicate ideas and attitudes about language in environments beyond academia. Professors guided my cultivation of this interest and helped me learn that linguistics is a field where anyone’s tools and passions can fit in, because language encircles us all. The proficiencies and growth I’ve gained at Western have already begun to open exciting doors, and I’m so excited to see what will follow!

Jess Costanza
Outstanding Graduate, 2021
Emily Hillman with curly hair pulled back wearing a dark green plaid shirt, standing in a garden

Emily Hillman

Outstanding Graduate, 2020

When I applied to Western, I was interested in language learning and teaching but unaware that an entire field was dedicated to the study of language. I didn’t know that language could be studied systematically, much less through an analytical or philosophical lens. It was in my first linguistics course that I realized that the field of linguistics allows us to ask bigger questions about the role of language in our society and culture. Through Western’s Linguistics Department, I attended countless research presentations and met linguists from across the nation and around the world. I proposed original ideas and worked closely with my professors to write papers on everything from linguistic theory to the applications of linguistics in second language acquisition and teaching. I was able to meet native speakers of the languages I studied and incorporate their questions and examples into my work. The tremendous instruction, feedback, and mentorship that I received from Western’s linguistics professors taught me how to think critically about language, draw my own conclusions, and substantiate my claims with examples. Western’s Linguistics Department provided me with a skill set that complements my background in TESOL and Spanish and translates into my future work as a teacher and researcher.

Laura Munger with dark, shoulder length hair wearing black glasses and a red turtleneck

Laura Munger

Outstanding Graduate, 2019

Entering Western's Linguistics Program as a freshman introduced me to a vibrant and supportive academic community. The students were diverse, bringing many different perspectives to the classroom. The teachers were knowledgeable and among the best educators I encountered in college. The interdisciplinary structure of Western’s linguistics curriculum does a wonderful job of introducing students to the many branches of the field and how they interface with other areas of study. The Linguistics Program sparked and developed my interest. During my time as a student in the department, I developed skills in analysis and research that prepared me well for continuing my studies in graduate school.

Kaiely, with shoulder length strawberry blonde hair and a gray blouse, sitting in a flower garden

Kailey Hegedus

Outstanding Graduate, 2018

Upon my arrival to Western, I was immediately drawn to the Linguistics Program having always had a love for studying languages. The professors and the corresponding classes they taught within this program were insightful and engaging, resulting in my staying and seeing Linguistics through as a major. Since graduating, I have not only been able to apply what I learned from this program in my own personal endeavors with learning new languages, but have also been able to apply it to my students' language acquisition in teaching them English as their second language.

Jeff Guptil, with cropped blond hair, sitting at a desk with neatly stacked papers

Jeff Guptil

Outstanding Graduate, 2017

I came to Western knowing I would major in Linguistics, and wasn’t disappointed. The program is rigorous, stacked with dedicated peers and faculty, and has been overwhelmingly applicable to daily life.  I seamlessly transitioned to grad school and work after graduation, and continue to see the returns on my education. I actually continued some of the work I started at Western in grammaticalization, and more recently have been exploring the changes to lol at the phonetic and phonological level. Both of these pursuits would not be possible without the academic tools and warm mentorship I received while at Western. The personal connections I developed, and the culture of this program and Western at large I value immensely. If I could hit repeat on my experience, I’d do it in a heartbeat.

Neal Digre standing next to a castle door in a bright green rain jacket and gray newsboy cap

Neal Digre

Outstanding Graduate, 2016

I honestly cannot see myself where I am, or especially where I am going, without the strong academic foundation, personal strengths and connections, and love of languages that I developed as a member of Western's Linguistics Program. Learning how to approach problems, design experiments, analyze hypotheses rigorously, and explain results clearly are all skills that I acquired as a linguistics student at Western and have helped me succeed in a master's degree in Informatics at the University of Edinburgh.

Lauren Gage with light brown hair tied into a ponytail, taking a selfie in a corner

Lauren Gage

Outstanding Graduate, 2015

Certainly my experiences being a linguistics tutor and getting as involved as I could in all things linguistic that Western had to offer really helped me to develop my leadership skills in language-based environments and beyond! I was lucky to be able to take an NLP class, as it proved instrumental in getting me into my Master's and my first real job. Even though I couldn't code, having the exposure and gaining some understanding of how linguistics can play a role in advancing technology has been a huge benefit to post-Western life.
The breadth of the curriculum also gave me a lot of options in terms of a next degree.

Lisa Brisbois, with long black hair, standing in front of greenery

Lisa Brisbois

Outstanding Graduate, 2014

Since graduating with my linguistics degree from WWU, I have been able to explore language in a variety of contexts.  From teaching English in Western’s IEP program to mentoring TESOL students as they complete their certifications here on campus, I have been able to delve into Second Language Acquisition in very interesting ways.  In graduate school, I focused my research in Second Language Acquisition.  Additionally, I have been fortunate enough to continue to explore the Spokane Salish language at the cultural level, which has reawakened my thirst for learning more about Salish languages.

Outstanding Graduates from Years Past

2013    Sean A. Guynes
2012    Christopher Scott Cawthon
2011    Chelsea M. Ashcraft
2010    Marten Van Schijndel
2009    Emilia Marjaana Snow
2008    Megan Xylia Walker
2007    Nathan Jesse Hamlitsch
2006    Christopher Carignan
2005    Sonja Christine Thoma Arndt
2004    Allison Lee Howard
2003    Jennifer Kelly Condit
2002    Jordan Beth Crossfield
2001    Carrie Elizabeth Goodin
2000    Catherine Elizabeth York
1999    Yoshiko Miho