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Linguistics Program


Alumni

Graduates of the Linguistics Program at the University of South Carolina have gone on to exciting careers in a variety of fields. Explore featured alumni stories about their time at UofSC and where they are now.

 Featured Alumni

Aubrey Dillard, Ph.D.

2013-2014 Bilinski Fellow

Why did you decide to do an MA or PhD in linguistics?

 I started my PhD in Linguistics because I wanted to teach at the university level.  My career path had always been in education, but after four years of teaching middle school French, I realized that I was more suited for teaching adults.  I also wanted to learn more about how students come to learn a second language. 

Tell us about your current job.

 I chose to work part-time following the completion of my PhD so that I could have time at home with my young son.  I currently work as an adjunct professor of Linguistics at the University of South Carolina.  I also teach graduate courses in English grammar and composition pedagogy online for Southern New Hampshire University. 

Why did you choose our program? Did you get what you wanted from the Linguistics Program?

The Linguistics program at USC was a very good fit for me.  I received a well-rounded education in Linguistics which has served me well as a teacher and a researcher.  My specialization in Second Language Acquisition as well as the Graduate Certificate in TESOL that I received while working on my PhD added significantly to the knowledge base that I gained studying foreign language pedagogy as a Masters student.  The Linguistics faculty were knowledgable and supportive, and the teaching opportunities that were available at USC improved my skills as an educator. 

What is your favorite thing in Columbia, SC?​

One of the great things about Columbia is that we are close to both the mountains and the ocean.  As I've become a mother, I've come to discover even more great things about Columbia.  The Riverbanks Zoo, the children's museum Edventure, the great public library system, great local restaurants, and the farmer's markets around Columbia (especially Soda City)  contribute to making Columbia a wonderful place to raise a family.  

Thor Sawin, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor at the Middlebury Institute of Internation Studies at Monterey

Why did you decide to do an MA or PhD in linguistics?

I did my MA in Linguistics and TESOL at Michigan State University, then I taught English and German overseas for six years.  I realized that I wanted to be involved more deeply in the field of language teaching, as so many of the issues facing the world could be alleviated if people were able to more fully understand each others’ ways of speaking.  I choose a PhD in Linguistics over Applied Linguistics, because with a solid foundation in theoretical Linguistics, you can still get a good job in the field of Applied Linguistics.  Often Applied Linguists have a weak foundation in the Linguistics that they are applying, and the strong theoretical foundation in the field I earned in my MA and PhD have given me so many tools that I can apply to the different practical issues which applied linguists are concerned with.

Tell us about your current job.

I am an Assistant Professor in the school of Translation, Interpretation and Language Education at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, a graduate school of Middlebury College located in Monterey, CA.  I teach linguistics courses such as Language Analysis, Sociolinguistics, Applied Linguistics Research, and Second Language Acquisition to future language teachers.   Teaching Masters-level students is very rewarding, and I love the practical and applied focus of my institution, and its engagement in equipping language teachers to help solve social inequalities.

Why did you choose our program? Did you get what you wanted from the Linguistics Program?

South Carolina’s program stood out to me in several ways.   I loved that you could pick two fields of study to be simultaneous foci, and to have committee members from a variety of subfields of linguistics.  My dissertation topic straddled the boundary between different fields, and South Carolina was uniquely flexible  in supporting that interdisciplinary research.   Having specializations in both sociolinguistics and second language acquisition helped me get my current position, and I use both fields daily.   At South Carolina, the faculty genuinely enjoyed working together, and the collegial and supportive atmosphere was why the program was recommended to me in the first place.  I consistently experienced the faculty at USC ‘going to bat’ for me, and helping me and my classmates get funding and opportunities to grow as scholars.  I also got the experience to teach a wide variety of courses, including the chance to design, propose and teach an elective of my own making.  This is a unique opportunity which really helped me in the academic job search.   When asked during my job search “Why South Carolina?” it was easy for me to explain how the small department size, the interdisciplinary focus of the program, and the supportive attention of the faculty made it a very refreshing place to earn a PhD.

What is your favorite thing in Columbia, SC?​

Although I wasn’t looking forward to the city of Columbia, it really surprised me.  There is a surprisingly vibrant scene of young professionals and great venues for music, excellent southern food, and entertainment.  I appreciated having natural opportunities right on my doorstep (the RiverTrail, Congaree NP) and also an easy drive away (hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains, the beaches of the Lowcountry) as a break from graduate school.   Most of all, I appreciated how inexpensive everything in Columbia is.  My graduate assistantship went a long way in a city like Columbia, and enabled me to be able to afford taking advantage of Columbia’s food scene. 

Anna Mikhaylova, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor at the University of Oregon

Why did you decide to do an MA or PhD in linguistics?

I was fascinated with how language works and how it is learned since high school and had a FL teaching degree equivalent to MA in TEFL as well as MA in TESOL when I realized I was equally interested in the social and cognitive dimensions of Bilingualism and that I was fascinated by researching language as much if not better than teaching it.

Tell us about your current job.

I am currently an Assistant Professor of Linguistics at the University of Oregon.

Why did you choose our program? Did you get what you wanted from the Linguistics Program?

At the time I was interested in studying the social aspects of bilingualism and wanted to work with Carol Myers-Scotton. However, taking several SLA courses from Mila Tasseva-Kurktchieva brought me back to language acquisition/learning, although more from the cognitive angle.

What is your favorite thing in Columbia, SC?​

The 300 days of sunshine a year!

Sherry Warren, Ph.D.

Writing-Grammar Coordinator, English Programs for Internationals at UofSC

Why did you decide to do an MA or PhD in linguistics?

I returned to the USA to pursue a MA in Linguistics, with a view to teaching English at an Intensive English Program in the United States.  Though I was having a wonderful time in Thailand teaching English, I realized that I would need to get an MA in order to continue to do what I loved to do in the USA.  While pursuing my MA, I became very interested in SLA research, so I entered the MA/PhD program to develop my skills as a researcher with a view to contributing to the knowledge base within the field.

Tell us about your current job.

I am the Academic Director for the International Accelerator Program at the University of South Carolina.  The International Accelerator Program is a bridge program for international students who are either still learning English or would like additional cultural support during their first year at USC.  I am also a consulting faculty member in the Linguistics Program where I teach undergraduate and graduate courses, and am engaged in several research projects relating to second language development and assessment.  

Why did you choose our program? Did you get what you wanted from the Linguistics Program?

I chose USC because it was in my hometown; I was delighted to find that it also enabled me to pursue my academic and professional interests.  The Linguistics Program at USC is unique in that it allows for interdisciplinary opportunities and collaboration among related fields.  Students with a very broad range of research interests can find what they are looking for.

What is your favorite thing in Columbia, SC?​

Increased funding for the arts has led to a rapidly developing arts community, which provides extensive opportunities for newcomers to meet people.  Columbia is also close to both majestic mountains and beautiful beaches, while being a very affordable place to live.