Hometown: Camas, Washington
Majors: Linguistics and Cultural Studies, French and Francophone Studies
After graduating with my majors in Linguistics and French, along with a minor in Computer Science, I pursued a Master of Science in Computational Linguistics from the University of Washington.
I was able to finish that master’s in a year and am now interning as a data scientist at Cambia Health Solutions in Portland, Oregon, where I am applying my linguistic and computational knowledge to solve real-world problems in the health care domain. My love of linguistics and languages began in high school, though.
Mr. Roland Minder, my high school French teacher from Switzerland, taught both French and German. (He also coached our state championship-winning high school soccer team.) His dry humor and hilarious stories always kept class interesting, and French became my favorite class in high school — even allowing me to jump into second-term intermediate French when I came to SPU.
I first heard about Seattle Pacific from my older brother while he was researching colleges. He talked about visiting SPU, and everyone being so friendly and inviting. That impression rubbed off on me, and when it came time to apply, I applied to a variety of universities, including other small private Christian universities, public universities, and an ivy-league school. But SPU was always special in my mind.
Once here, my experiences in the program were diverse, fun, and impactful. From small class discussions in French literature to making our own language in Morphology to walking the streets of ancient Rome, this program has been full of extraordinary experiences which bend the rules of what a normal classroom looks like.
And yet, I was still challenged to understand advanced theoretical concepts and conduct my own real-world experiments in courses like Phonology, Syntax, and Research Methods.
One professor who made a lasting impression on me was Dr. Owen Ewald. His passion for, and mastery of, ancient cultures and languages was incredible and inspiring. He also encouraged me to take the master’s program that got me where I am now.
There are so many more I could write about — Madame Beauclair, Dr. Bartholomew, Dr. Hinkel, Dr. Henson, Dr. Reinsma, Dr. Langford, Dr. Macdonald, Dr. Pope, Dr. Bartlett ... the list goes on.
By far one of my favorite and most impactful experiences at SPU was my European Quarter study abroad trip through the Department of Languages, Cultures, and Linguistics. To this day, that is one of the experiences that I keep coming back to in my own mind and when I share my college experience with others. Traveling, learning, and exploring with 22 fellow SPU students was incredible.
It was my first trip to the Old World, and I couldn't have asked for a better one. One day I got lost in Florence and took it all in — the narrow cobblestone alleyways, the great Renaissance architecture, and the impressive Duomo — while I found my way back. In the Lauterbrunnen valley of Switzerland, waterfalls poured off of massive Alpine cliffs and literally turned to mist before reaching the valley floor, leaving me breathless and in utter awe of the natural beauty.
Being able to practice speaking French with my classmates and a myriad of locals in Paris and Normandy allowed me to improve my conversational skills in French and my understanding of French culture. You can’t beat a lesson in advanced French that consists of discussing Albert Camus’ L'Été with Madame Beauclair and classmates while drinking a diabolo menthe (a bright green mint soda drink) at a small French cafe in Caen on a hot day in late spring.
Now an alum, I hope to have deeper knowledge and broader experience in computational linguistics, machine learning, and data science in five to 10 years. With this experience, I hope to solve important problems in health care and other domains by getting computers to understand human language.
I also want to improve people’s ability to interact with technology using their native language. One of my passions that originally drew me to the Department of Languages, Cultures, and Linguistics was my love of foreign cultures and languages. I hope I’ll be able to work overseas and apply my technical knowledge to problems in less developed nations and cultures.