University of Virginia
Currently lives in New York City
While every individual knows a language, Language as a subject is complex and patterned, influenced by context while simultaneously negotiating an interactive framework utterance by utterance. As an expert in linguistics, I have extensive training extracting myself from the taken-for-granted domain of communication that all native speakers inhabit, allowing me to study it scientifically. A scientific understanding of social interaction is infinite in its applications. Sociolinguists in particular are equipped to provide critical insights into the connections and instances of miscommunication that pass between individuals and groups as they communicate about a topic. Such insights are invaluable to building more effective businesses, governments, organizations, supporting causes, and movements, and shaping the cultural and idiosyncratic identities and relationships of human society.
My first full-time job after college was as a bilingual victim-witness advocate in Boston. For a year I listened to and translated peoples' experiences of crimes, during which time I was made aware of the intricacies of language. I gained a heightened awareness of the seemingly endless possibilities for miscommunications as well as an appreciation for the influence of communicative goals on the shape of a story. Who is conveying the "facts" and how they acquired this knowledge is paramount, as are the assumptions a hearer brings to the interpretation of the story.
While completing a Master's degree in sociolinguistics at Georgetown University, I volunteered in my neighborhood as an ESL teacher for low-literacy Spanish-speaking immigrant women, which further fueled my appreciation for and fascination with language and culture. My first semester, I also worked in the Aphasia lab in the Psychology department at Georgetown. While gaining these perspectives in applied and cognitive linguistics, I eventually chose sociolinguistics as my concentration. I trained in discourse and narrative analysis, focusing much of my research on investigating the mechanics of language in social interaction through technology. I then taught these skills in various courses, including, Introduction to language, Narrative, and Sociolinguistic Field Methods courses at Georgetown.
While completing my classes, I conducted multiple ethnographies – many in collaboration with peers – on diverse populations, including a group of business school students, a class of immigrant ESL students, and a small community in Washington, DC, the latter of which involved identity and race. I am an experienced interviewer and comfortable with establishing relationships to discern appropriate and meaningful questions for different groups. One ethnography – known as The Talking Business Project (headed by Anna Marie Trester) – involved a team of researchers with various backgrounds. During my involvement as senior researcher, I observed a year of graduate leadership classes at Georgetown University's business school, collecting data in the form of recordings and field notes, and was the ethnographer sent with the business students on their capstone trip to South Africa in 2011 as a participant-observer during the students' projects on leadership in developing markets.
My approach to discourse analysis is based on a strong belief that a wide range of data is beneficial whenever possible. Discourse only has meaning in context and context includes factors like: the relationships between interactants, preexisting knowledge and experiences shared and unshared between them, any institutional influences, and the physical or mediated environment. Thus, I utilize a number of data in my discursive studies; in the case of Facebook, these include recorded group discussions and interviews as well as online metadiscourse about Facebook norms in addition to screenshots of Facebook interactions, and I treat all as primary data as each contributes to an understanding of the context that influences and is influenced by the discourse. As a sociolinguist who synthesizes a range of cross-disciplinary approaches to data collection and analysis of both written and spoken discourse, I bring a unique perspective to research and the collaborative projects I have worked on both inside and outside of academia.