Stephen F. Austin State University

Linguistics Alumni

If you are an alum of the Linguistics Minor at SFA and would like to be included on this page, please email Dr. Jessie Sams at

Lindsey Antonini

Lindsey is currently a PhD student at the University of Georgia, where she is researching the TMA system of Malayalam for her dissertation. She is also an instructor for Introduction to Linguistics (LING 2100).

"The Haya data is a useful tool when discussing familial variations and typological analyses of proposed theoretical universals. The rigor of the typological aspects of the Invented Languages course, combined with the process of building a language based in reality from its phonemes to its pragmatics, is a type of structured methodology that is rarely employed in other courses, but it is one that I practice almost every day. The care and professionalism of my former linguistics professors is a model on which I base my own scholastic expectations. Their dedication to my career certainly taught me how to be an academic and not just a student."

Diana Arisiaga

Diana is currently a Spanish teacher at Mabank High School and is looking into various graduate linguistic programs. She hopes to one day receive her PhD in Hispanic Linguistics.

"My ling minor helped my love for languages flourish and become what it is today. I remember sitting in my first linguistics course, and I felt like I was home. I had finally found what I wanted to study and make my career. The courses were wonderful, and they gave me a deeper understanding of my two native languages. Having a minor in linguistics also helped me receive the job that I have today. It shows that I have a better understanding of languages. This is a perk when you're applying to be a teacher of a foreign language. The professors are wonderful. They not only teach us, but they also mentor us. Even after I graduated, Chris and Jessie both mentored me and have helped me in my career. Dedication to students during and after college is what makes this program successful. We are the SFA family, and that will never change."

Russell Bartholomew

Russell is currently working as a Deaf Education teacher at Greenville ISD, primarily teaching low-language Deaf students in the upper-level grades. He intends to apply for several M.A. programs in the field of Linguistics in the near future.

"Thanks to my ability to look at language and see the structures, I am able to professionally analyze a language sample from my students and determine what the student needs to develop linguistically. There have been many moments already when an understanding of syntax has helped me make an informed decision as a teacher."

Robyn Bashaw

Robyn is currently working as a Library Assistant for the Nicholson Memorial Library System.

"It's important to note that I came by my linguistics minor by taking so many 'elective' courses that looked too fascinating to pass up that, by senior year when I only needed a couple more to round off the minor, it would've been silly not to take them. With this in mind, the most obvious far-reaching benefit I gained from those classes was an introduction in the classroom to the same kind of multitude of viewpoints that the workplace offers. This was naturally derived from the personable professors and intriguing content drawing in students like myself from a variety of academic backgrounds to create a classroom of engaged learners like none other on campus. Additionally, several of the courses cultivated a cultural awareness that assists me today in my interactions with library patrons while all the linguistics courses honed the critical thinking and analysis skills I use each day in assisting the patrons that approach me with their research questions.

The Sams professors (Chris and Jessie to their students), who run the linguistics program, are two of the most student-centered professors you can find. Each with their own unique personality and specialities, they've designed the minor to cover a wide array of topics that are bound to include something to strike the interest and enhance the academic goals of every student on campus. Best of all, their knowledge (and love) of linguistics, humor, and ongoing relationships with their students make their classes some of the most fun at SFA!"

Tori Bates

Tori is currently applying for graduate school, seeking a Masters in Speech Language Pathology.

"My major deals with language on a daily basis, so not only did I enjoy the linguistics courses, but they also helped me better understand language from a different point of view besides that of an SLP. The linguistics professors are awesome and truly care about their students."

Caitlin Dahl

Caitlin is currently working as a freelance writer and editor.

"The minor has helped me become a better writer. It's allowed me to really analyze my writing, and taught me how to use language effectively in both fiction and journalistic articles. It's also helped me discern the nuance of style when editing someone else's work. Chris and Jessie are both wonderful professors and people. They were both great mentors to me, and I know that, if I need to, I can always turn to them for guidance and advice."

Laura Hartford

Laura is currently working on her Master's degree in Linguistics at The University of Texas at Arlington.

"My minor puts me a step ahead of some of the other Master's students here who have never had a single linguistics class. It's prepared me for the coursework I'll be facing with this degree, as well as given me an insight into which areas of Linguistics I'm most interested in, which will help me pick my future classes. And even though I now have new professors, I know I can always turn to Jessie and Chris as mentors and friends now and during the transition between graduating and pursuing a career."

Anneka Horsley

Anneka is currently working as a copy and print specialist at Office Depot while exploring career and graduate school options. She hopes to go to graduate school for either English or Linguistics.

"My linguistics minor has given me invaluable knowledge that I will use to not only strengthen my career, but it also helped me throughout my classes in my major while I was still in school. The minor gives you a better understanding of the English language, and therefore, is a perfect pair for an English degree. Chris and Jessie Sams are the reason the program is so great. They were two of my favorite professors during my time at SFA, and continue to be great mentors even after graduation."

Kirstie Linstrom

Kirstie is currently in her first semester in the MA in English program at Stephen F. Austin State University.

"Being able to understand the structures of English will be very beneficial when I begin student teaching. The linguistics minor offers students a better understanding of the English language and this is very crucial for English majors that intend to teach, like myself. My minor gave me a better understanding of my major which has helped me further my academic career."

Brittany McCreary

Brittany is currently a second-year student in SFA's School Psychology doctoral program. She writes, "I will begin my thesis research this fall, and it is undoubtedly influenced by my experience in SFA's linguistics minor program. I hope to design strategies that will help individuals with autism spectrum disorder interpret figurative language in text. My ultimate goal is to create strategies that will help individuals with autism spectrum disorder interpret figurative language as it occurs in natural settings."

"Not only has SFA's linguistics minor helped me bridge the gap between my interests in psychology and in language, it has also improved my understanding of English grammar and syntax--which is a great boon to my academic writing! Drs. Jessie and Chris Sams are unique, in that they are open to collaboration with undergraduates, and seem to have genuine interest in their engagement. This has influenced my perception of what makes a successful program. In addition, many of the classes offered provide great opportunities to learn more about various cultures and their customs. (And studying Old English is just really cool!)"

Allison Nichols

Allison graduated with an MA in Forensic Linguistics from Hofstra University in May 2015.

"My Linguistics Minor gave me direction, a career path. My professors have become people I can turn to for advice and guidance, even after graduation."

Lauren Ontiveros

Lauren is pursuing a Speech-Language Pathology Assistance License.

"The minor has given me a deeper understanding of the domains of language, which is an essential part of the foundation of speech-language pathology. Also, Chris and Jessie's passion for linguistics is infectious."

Sarah Rasul

Sarah plans to apply for graduate school with a Masters program in Linguistics and to continue writing stories.

"My linguistics minor challenged me to become a better writer and to look more in depth into other people's writing styles from an analytical point of view. It also taught me more about how languages are structured and gave me a deeper understanding of communication. Overall, the minor excited me and made me want to learn more and pursue it as a career. Dr. Jessie Sams and Dr. Chris Sams are both brilliant professors and are extremely knowledgeable. They really care about their students and go above and beyond for them. They are passionate about linguistics, and that inspires passion in their students."

Clare Reeves

Clare is currently in grad school for a Masters in English. Her foci are Rhetoric and Composition and British Literature.

"My understanding of English, both structurally and historically, has been very helpful in some of my classes, especially the classes on teaching and assessment, because I can explain why I would grade a certain way, and I find I understand what people may be doing linguistically in their writing, for example dialectal differences and historical usage. From classes like Psycholinguistics, I have an insight into students' language use, and this helps me work with students instead of being prescriptive with a red pen. I find my work in Forensic Linguistics, working with the applied aspect of linguistics, helps me in my research and grad level Linguistics classes. The critical analysis aspects of all these classes helps me in my analysis and works well with my English training. I have felt very fortunate to have these classes because I do not feel behind. I feel prepared. In addition, I work at the Writing Center, and I find that my linguistic knowledge fits very well there. I can understand language usage and writing differences, use structural knowledge to help students understand grammar, and dialectal and academic conventions to help students adapt to writing at the college level. I plan on getting a Masters in Psychology next and look forward to exploring how linguistic knowledge will interact with this subject."

Ali Suesens

Ali plans to move to Austin, TX, to pursue a career as a Speech Language Pathology-Assistant, and then pursue a graduate degree to become a fully certified SLP within the next few years.

"When I was 7, I learned I was dyslexic, which explained why reading took me longer and why English was harder for me as a kid. Through hours of extra classes that were pushed on me by my parents, I caught up and even exceeded my peers, but I never really loved English. I would read for fun, but I always dreaded English class lectures about parts of speech, sentence structure, and spelling. Taking ENG 341 Introduction to Linguistics my junior year completely changed my mind on all of these things. Viewing language as a science was the boost I needed; so much finally clicked in my head in the intro class, and for the first time in my academic career, I found myself really enjoying every aspect of the English language. I have been able to apply this knowledge to my speech pathology classes. Most importantly, I believe my minor has fully prepared me to help future speech clients with a language disorder and given me the tools to provide the best therapy possible for these clients."

Katie Swann

Katie is working as an elementary Deaf Education teacher for Killeen ISD but plans on getting her Master's in Psychology/Family Counseling (hopefully) from Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. in the near future.

"The Linguistics minor was the best thing that ever happened to me at SFA. In the Deaf Education program, we choose a content specialization - mine was English. Not being the typical English lover, seeing the science-y side of English was extremely enlightening and absolutely amazing. It definitely made the English language more enjoyable for me, and has changed my outlook on language itself and teaching it. Chris and Jessie are genuinely interested in helping every student and are more focused on the critical thinking process then the letter grade itself, which is a breath of fresh air in the world of education.

12 out of 10, would recommend!"

Zanne R. Tarlow

Zanne completed the MA Sociolinguistics program at the University of Essex in Colchester, England, and currently works as a dog park "hall monitor," dog trainer, and volunteer trainer with Austin Pets Alive.

"The [linguistics] minor and its professors have introduced me to previously unknown paths to make a career in a field that I am passionate about, that being nonprofit work (particularly with human rights/equality and animal rescues)."

Kelsey Treusdell

Kelsey finished her MA in Hispanic Studies in 2014 and is currently teaching beginning-advanced Spanish as well as elementary German at SFA.

"I was so fortunate to be able to graduate with the linguistics minor when the program first began. It piqued my interest and opened the door for me to start pursuing these topics at a deeper level. While the program [was] young [when I began the minor], the courses offered are high-quality and enriching and cover a wide range of topics that you might not be able to find elsewhere, like psycholinguistics and forensic linguistics, and this really gave me an appreciation for what a rich field this is. Now that I have that base, I hope to continue learning and take advantage of some exciting opportunities in linguistics."

Kelsey Trevino

Kelsey is currently a Spanish teacher at Henderson High School and is pursuing options for a graduate degree in Linguistics, with the goal of earning a PhD in Hispanic Linguistics.

"I've always been interested in the patterns between languages and between languages and culture. The Linguistics minor helped me make those connections that I could sense were there. Linguistics has given me the tools to unravel and discover the puzzle known as language. Lucky for me, I greatly enjoy puzzle solving.

I would have never discovered as much if it weren't for the professors who head up the Linguistics minor. Dr. Jessie Sams and Dr. Chris Sams make their classes very informative and interesting for their students, as well as making them feel comfortable and very much a part of the linguistic community.

As far as how these courses have benefitted me in my own line of work, I can easily say that the experience has been invaluable. As a Spanish teacher, I am trusted to guide my students through the ins and outs of the structures of the Spanish language. Sometimes to do that, I must explain how English works and how these languages compare. Linguistics has helped me immeasurably to not only dissect and name parts of a language but to help explain it to those who have little to no experience in the matter. Knowledge in the realms of linguistics has become a necessity as a foreign language teacher."

Renée Williams

Renée is currently in her first year of graduate school at SFA, pursuing an MA in English. She's also working as a research assistant, working in the university press, and teaching College Writing Techniques at Angelina College.

"My studies in linguistics have been especially helpful in teaching my developmental writing students. I use what I learned in Structures of English to help my students better understand their own writing from the sentence level. What I've taken away from the linguistics minor is also helping me as I consider my approach to my master's thesis; I am currently examining the language conventions of dystopian fiction, and much of my research requires familiarity with the concepts I first learned about in my linguistics courses. Linguistics has given me a special tool-set in my literature courses that allows me to examine literary works from perspectives that I might otherwise have never considered or even been aware of. Maybe the best thing I've taken away from the minor is a thirst for more; I find myself seeking out opportunities to learn more and finding ways to work what I've learned into current projects. I've never encountered professors more willing to devote their time and energy to their students. The genuine interest they show as we move along in our education and careers means so much to so many of us."