Student Spotlight


Dr. McNeel Jantzen giving a lecture to a group of students.

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2022-2023 Department of Linguistics Outstanding Graduating Senior

Royce Gibson

Royce Gibson is a consummate scholar. Faculty comment that he is “academically brilliant,” “a fantastic researcher,” “kind,” and “modest” He is extremely enthusiastic, and always challenges himself. Royce participates above and beyond; he is very eager to learn and takes course assignments and projects to the next step. In addition to being a “true scholar”, a term several faculty used to describe Royce, he is also an intuitive teacher. Many faculty note that Royce contributes to a collaborative learning environment. “He makes great observations and shares them with the class,” several note, but in an unassuming and very helpful way. He is a simply superb student with a depth and breadth of knowledge and a sincere desire to keep learning.

Royce Gibson
2022-2023 Department of Linguistics Outstanding Graduating Senior

Fulbright U.S. Award Recipients

Congratulations to WWU Linguistics Alums Nathan Bucker (Germany) and Molly DeLeo (Germany)

2022-2023 Department of Linguistics Exceptional Student Awardees

Abigail Landaverde - Glory Busic - Carlisle Van Leuven

2022-2023 Exceptional Student in Spanish-Linguistics Awardee

Liam Pedersen

2023-2024 Denham Family Linguistics Student Scholarship Awardee

Rosie O’Malley

2023-2024 Shaw Gynan Memorial Scholarship Awardee

Gretchen Gaspers

2023-2024 Linguistics Student Scholarship Awardees

Ilsa O’Rollins - Red Sheets

Linguistics Department Scholars Week Presenters 2023

Mae Bash

  • “Mauwake Focus Markers”

Glory Busic

  • “Internalized Attitudes: African American English Speakers and African American English”

Margo Digiacinto

  • “Negation in Korean Syntax”

Royce Gibson

  • “Korean Modality”

Jack MacCleary

  • “Topic and Focus Phrases in Pite Saami”

Eden McGee

  • “Warao Determiners and Their Phrase Structure”

Meghan Murphy

  • “Simplifying the Syntactic Theory of Minimalism”

Ilsa O’Rollins

  • “Strategies of Disjunction in Ket”

Liam Pedersen

  • “Language and Identity in the Transgender Community of Tumblr”

Red Sheets

  • “Inventory of Modal Auxiliaries in Irish”

Thatch Trautmann - Co-author/language consultant J.R. Manríquez

  • “Nominalization in Numu (Northern Paiute)”


Student presenting research in LING 204.

2021-2022 Department of Linguistics Outstanding Graduating Senior

Niko Attebery

Niko Attebery is outstanding in every way: as a linguist, a mentor, a collaborator, and a colleague. He goes above and beyond in the classroom and in linguistics extracurriculars like the Linguistics Club and the department’s podcast, “The Podling,” which he co-hosted with a goal of bringing linguistics topics and issues to a larger audience. He also worked as a Linguistics Department support staffer for the 2021-22 year. His positive attitude, kindness and generosity are infectious, inviting others into each community he is a part of. With a minor in Japanese, Attebery plans to apply to the Japan Exchange Teaching program to teach English in Japan before applying to graduate schools for linguistics.

Niko Attebery
2021-2022 Department of Linguistics Outstanding Graduating Senior

2021-2022 Department of Linguistics Exceptional Student Awardees

Navor Tercero - Sylvia Cohen - Crow Chloupek - Carolina - Valdez Velasco - Claudia Liu - Spencer deVries - Kate Panza

2021-2022 Exceptional Student in Spanish-Linguistics Awardees

Natalie Anderson - Sylvia Cohen - Amanda Fox - Carolina Valdez Velasco - Kendra Raymond

2022 Linguistics Student Scholarship Awardees

Abigail Landaverde - Emma Ahmann - Emma Wheaton

2022 Shaw Gynan Memorial Scholarship Awardees

Javin Morrison


Fountain in Red Square at Western Washington University

2020-2021 Department of Linguistics Outstanding Graduating Senior

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
2020-2021 Department of Linguistics Outstanding Graduating Senior

2021 Presidential Scholar of the Humanities Division of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Brahm vanWoerden

My classes in the Department of Linguistics have given me a stronger understanding of what appeals to me about language and how I can continue to investigate it. More than anything, this became clear through my work applying linguistic principles to the second language classroom. I hope to use the teaching, research, and scholarship experience that the linguistics major afforded me to keep developing my knowledge of human language.

Brahm vanWoerden
2021 Presidential Scholar of the Humanities Division of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Department of Linguistics Exceptional Student Awardees

Jake Shackelford - Brahm vanWoerden - Graham Blair - Ruthie Myers - Emily Kickner

Exceptional Student in Spanish-Linguistics Awardees

Ava Anderson - Brahm vanWoerden - Aspen Clark - Jake Shackelford - Shachaf Zahavy-Mittelman - Emily Kickner

2021 Linguistics Student Scholarship Awardees

Glory Busic - Niko Attebery -  Navor Tercero

2021 Shaw Gynan Memorial Scholarship Awardees

Hunter Calixto - Miriam LeMay

Graduate School Admissions

Brahm vanWoerden (’21, Spanish and linguistics) was accepted into Western’s Master in Teaching program.

Allison Hartley (’21, linguistics) was accepted into the Master of Arts program in Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Washington

Jessalyn Campbell ('21, linguistics) was accepted into the University of Victoria's Master's in Linguistics program.

Research Spotlight

Click on the links below to see WWU Linguistics Student Research

Aspen Clark, '21

Brahm vanWoerden, '21, Spencer de Vries, '22, and María José Palacios Figueroa, '18

Ruth Myers, '21


Student holding diploma cover at Western Washintgon University commencement ceremony.

2019-2020 Department of Linguistics Outstanding Graduating Senior

Emily Hillman


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.

Emily Hillman
Outstanding Graduate, 2020

Department of Linguistics Exceptional Student Awardees

Nancy Brill - Abigail Freitag - Ellen Golden - Calli Hilvitz - Daniel Leach - Holly Lund

2020 Winners of the Linguistics Student Scholarship

Graham Blair and McKenzie Clark

Graduate School Admissions

Anchal Sharma, '20, linguistics and Spanish, was accepted into the Spanish Linguistics Ph.D. program at Arizona State University. 

Nancy Brill , '20, linguistics and Spanish

Priscilla Vaughn, '20, linguistics, was accepted into Emerson's Master's in Speech Language Pathology program.

Watch "Why I Study Linguistics"

Video from student Jess Costanza ('21, linguistics) on why she came to Western to study linguistics and loves it!

NWLC 2020, Western Participants

The Department of Linguistics would like to recognize the hard work of our students and alumni who presented at the 2020 Northwest Linguistics Conference, April 25-26. The conference, hosted by the University of Washington, moved to an entirely online format following social distancing guidelines related to the Covid-19 outbreak. 

All presentations from the conference.

Our full list of linguistics students and alumni who presented their work.

Kathryn Pence poses in front of an academic poster at a virtual academic conference.


Person riding bike through Western Washington University campus in early fall

2018-2019 Outstanding Graduate in Linguistics

Laura Munger

Laura Munger

From Western Today: Laura Munger of Portland, Oregon, graduated magna cum laude and with University Honors in June with a Bachelor of Arts degree. She majored in linguistics with a minor in Arabic and Islamic studies. During her time at Western, Munger pursued major-concentrations in second language acquisition and language change, all while maintaining a 3.98 GPA. Her capstone project involved exploring the changing uses of taboo words in English over time. She also worked as a research assistant for Western Talks, helping to raise awareness of linguistic diversity in the WWU community. After graduation, she plans to pursue a doctorate in linguistics at the University of Washington. Munger is a graduate of Central Catholic High School.

Laura Munger
2018-2019 Department of Linguistics Outstanding Graduating Senior

Department of Linguistics Outstanding Graduating Senior Finalists

Aron Finholt - Catherine Kemp - Chloe Fasoldt - Grace Warthen - Luciele Bolton - Nicholai Whippo

2019 Winner of the Linguistics Student Scholarship

Tabitha Watkins

Linguistics Major Manda Baur chosen as commencement speaker

Manda Baur takes a selfie with friends.
Manda Baur, front, takes a selfie with friends. “They've helped me through a lot the past couple years,” Baur said. Photo courtesy of Manda Baur.

Linguistics major, Manda Baur, was chosen as the winter 2019 College of Humanities and Social Sciences commencement speaker.

“Baur grew up in the Tri-Cities and graduated from Southridge High School and Columbia Basin College. At Western, Baur has studied linguistic discrimination, particularly oppression through language, and how language affects society. They also volunteered for Jeopardy, Western’s student literary magazine.” Read more about the winter commencement ceremony.

A study of accents

Two students holding a cardboard sign reading "Help us with our final project, we have candy"

Senior Karlly Palica and sophomore Sarah Bahzad set up a tripod and camera to interview passing students in Red Square on Thursday, March 7. The pair conducted a study of accents in the Pacific Northwest for a project in their LING 402 / ENG 436 class. Photo by WWU Visual Journalism student Roisin Cowan-Kuist.

Two Western Linguistics Program Students Awarded Coveted Fulbright Scholarships

Congratulations to Maria José Palacios Figueroa and Kimberly Christensen.

Read Maria and Kimberly's story.

Maria José Palacios Figueroa posing in front of a Fulbright banner in kelly greenshirt and striped shawl
Kimberly Christensen taking a selfie in a bright red t-shirt

Western Linguistics Student Featured in the New York Times

Grace deMeurisse in Western Washington University graduation regalia.

Grace deMeurisse, '19, B.A., linguistics, was featured in The New York Times. From the article: "I wish I had known how to separate my learning from my grades. My educational experience became profoundly better and more enriched when I learned how to start learning for the sake of learning, and not for the sake of monotonously turning in an assignment for the grade I would get in return." 


Fountain in Red Square at Western Washington University with people sitting in background.

2017-2018 Outstanding Graduate in Linguistics

Kailey Hegedus

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.

Kailey Hegedus
Outstanding Graduate, 2018

Outstanding Graduating Senior Finalists

Mike Jones Maria José - Palacios Figuero

Linguistics Student Scholarship Award

Holly Lund

Graduate School Admissions

Maria José Palacios Figueroa, '18, linguistics and Spanish

2016 and Older

View from Western's Viking Union during sunset.

Research Spotlight

Laurel G. Evans, '04

Linguistics Program Student Colloquium, June 5, 2003

Linguistics Program Student Colloquium, April 10, 2003

Linguistics Program Student Colloquium, June 5, 2002

Linguistics Program Student Colloquium, June 6, 2001