Tuesday, May 1, 2007
OU student receives Fulbright scholarship
Alexis Garland, a linguistics master’s graduate, received a Fulbright scholarship to study and conduct research in Germany for one year. Garland will study cognitive linguistics and hopes the experience will further her education and lead to a career.
“This experience is an amazing opportunity for me, because I will be able to build on previous language and research skills and expand them in new areas, and really focus on a specific subfield of cognitive science,” Garland said.
Garland expects to study at Freiburg in the first year doctoral program for cognitive science research. The school performs research in the areas of human computer interaction, artificial intelligence, neuroscience and more.
“I never would have been able to gain the exposure to cognitive linguistics and neurolinguistics, and develop interests in different areas in cognitive science, if it had not been for the flexibility of the linguistics department,” Garland said. She said they were understanding and supportive of her full-time work schedule at a nearby German-based international company while she was in graduate school full time.
“The linguistic program is small, but the staff is very supportive, and passionate about their subject areas,” Garland said. “They know each student and can really help them explore their interests.”
This will not be Garland’s first experience studying abroad. She has international experience that dates back to high school; however, she became inspired when she was much younger. Garland’s family hosted many international students. She has kept in contact with many of them over the years and is fascinated by other cultures.
“If my mom couldn’t take us to see the world, she was determined to bring it to us,” Garland said of her mother, Shannan McNair, associate professor of human development and child studies.
In high school, Garland traveled to Belize for a tropical ecology program and then later to Bad Neustadt, Germany with a language program and became hooked on traveling. In 2002, she participated in an exchange program and lived in Oldenburg, Germany, during her fourth year as an undergrad studying German at OU.
|Garland studied in Germany in 2003 and traveled around Europe. |
“The opportunity to study abroad was invaluable,” Garland said. “Going overseas far outweighs any disadvantage or hesitation students may have about cost or fluency. It’s not about speaking the language perfectly; it’s about being there to experience things first-hand that I wouldn’t have gotten in the classroom.”
The Fulbright scholars will participate in an orientation in Göttingen, Germany, from Sept. 17-19 and then they will be placed into their assignments until July 15. Garland, however, will be leaving in the coming weeks to travel around before heading to Germany. She will visit Japan, Thailand and New Zealand before going to China to volunteer as an English teacher in China.
“In some of the poorer regions, they don’t have access to enough first-hand English speakers. I’m going with a group of other teachers from around Oakland to help refresh their skills in English and introduce new language teaching methods,” Garland said.
As she travels around the world and participates in the Fulbright program, Garland will document her progress on her blog.
For more information on OU’s linguistics or modern languages and literatures programs, visit the Linguistics and Modern Languages and Literatures Web sites.