College of Humanities & Social Sciences

Student & Alumni News

Linguistics Outstanding Graduates

Photo of Emily HillmanEmily 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." 

Photo of Kailey HegedusKailey 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.”
Photo of Jeff GuptilJeff 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.”
Photo of Neal DigreNeal 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.”
 
Photo of Lauren GageLauren 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.”
Photo of Lisa BrisboisLisa 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.”