Lillian Jones, a 2019 graduate, spent time at both of SLU's campuses, in St. Louis and Madrid. She is currently continuing her Spanish education with a prestigious Ph.D. program at the University of California, Davis.
How long were you in the program?
I began the program in spring 2015, completed two semesters (nine courses), took a break for personal reasons, and then returned to school fall 2017. I graduated in May 2019, so the program took me approximately three years.
What have you been doing since receiving your M.A. from SLU?
Upon receiving my SLU M.A., I did a bit of traveling and then moved to California. I spent some time with my family and friends in Austin and the central Texas area, and then moved to California to get settled into my new city where I attended classes and volunteered at the LSA Linguistic Institute 2019, after which I began the Ph.D. program in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese at the University of California, Davis. My major is Hispanic Linguistics, with a Designated Emphasis (like a Ph.D. minor) in Second Language Acquisition.
What is the title and description of your current position?
I am currently a graduate student. I was awarded the Provost Fellowship for 2019-2020, which is a prestigious first-year fellowship. So, I get to focus solely on my studies for this entire first year, and I will have the opportunity to work as a teaching assistant, graduate research assistant, reader, and similar positions, in my future years at the university. For the academic year of 2020-2021, I have the opportunity to work as an associate instructor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese. Currently, I am enrolled in four classes (in four different languages!). I attend professional development and pedagogical workshops and language clubs. Regarding positions of service, I am volunteering as the on-campus student ambassador for the Linguistic Society of America, as the graduate student co-editor for the Spanish and Portuguese Review (Social Media and Communications), and I am working as a graduate research assistant working with the development of a computer-assisted language learning (CALL) software which focuses on vocabulary acquisition. Furthermore, I was recently nominated and voted in as co-chair for the UC Davis Cluster on Language Research for 2020-2021.
In what ways did the SLU M.A. program prepare you for what you do today?
All the ways. 100%. I would not be who I am nor where I am today without my experience at both SLU-Madrid and the St. Louis campus. While all of my personal, professional, and academic experiences have helped prepare me and facilitated opportunities to support my journey, I absolutely believe that my time at SLU, the work that was asked of me, the challenges that were presented to me, the people I met, including professors, colleagues, mentors, students, and friends, worked together to prepare me for what I am doing today. Academically: I am currently enrolled in one of the most prestigious and highly competitive universities in the nation, and my experience with SLU contributed substantially academically to this process. The program curriculum, opportunities for leadership and service, and colleague support and mentorship at SLU allowed me to submit a rich application to this university, drawing on what I had learned in class, papers I had written, experiences navigating policies, teaching opportunities, pedagogical development, and proposing innovative ideas on how I might contribute to the university. Personally: On a personal level, my SLU professors supported and inspired me in many ways, both academically and personally. I will forever be grateful for the time these leaders and my colleagues spent with me, ensuring I had what I needed to be a successful learner and have a fruitful career. Professionally: Through professional development opportunities at SLU, including being awarded a Graduate Student Teaching Award, graduate research and teaching assistantships, as well as attending conferences, symposiums, and pedagogical workshops, not only has my CV been strengthened, but I have learned many new skills, as well as strengthened existing ones. Of course any program or department is not without its challenges, and this is true in all aspects of life, including both school and work. The experience you get out of anything is really what you make of it. There were challenges, both of what would be expected in a master's program and of the unexpected, and I would not change my time at SLU for anything. The "hard is what makes it great."