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Alumni Stories: Alexis (Valdiviez) Kretzer, ‘20, TESOL

Question: What has been your career experience since graduation?

Since graduation, I took two years off to have two children. Now, I have recently started to work for my husband's company, Integrity Fence, crafting contracts, documents, training materials, agreements, marketing campaigns, etc.

My future goals are to get more training in TESOL and go on and teach English at a discounted rate either individually or for small groups at a host church.

Question: What is your current job?

My current job, as well as being a stay at home mom, is working for Integrity Fence drafting documents and working in admin.

Question: How has ODU's MA in Applied Linguistics program helped in your career?

My time in the Applied Linguistics program has helped me gain a more thorough and scientific understanding of the English language, which I have found to be fundamental in the drafting and wording of documents. Legally binding documents must be precise and specific in their wording and I have found that because of my training, I am more aware of how small syntactic or semantic changes can make a document more impactful and concise.

Question: Do you have any favorite memories from the program?

I have so many favorite memories of the program but for the sake of brevity, I will narrow it down to just a few. Most of my favorite memories surround research projects that I conducted for different classes. One being the Graveyard Ethnography project I did for Dr. Anderson's class. Dr. Anderson's enthusiasm and passion for ethnography ignited an interest for me in a field of research that I had never heard about. I fell in love with graveyard ethnography because tombstones display how a person wanted to be remembered which can reveal the ideological beliefs of people groups and generations.

Another research project that I truly loved was for First and Second Language Acquisition with Dr. Zareva. In this project I examined the idea that if a second language is acquired after the maturation of the brain, learners no longer have the ability to sound like a native speaker. I chose this topic because to myself and a few of my peers, we had an outlier in our classroom. This project and Dr. Zareva's encouragement empowered me to explore and question suppositions through reliable research methods.

Question: What was your favorite thing about ODU's MA in Applied Linguistics Program?

I absolutely loved the atmosphere of all the classes. Dr. Defibaugh's classes in particular always had a relaxed atmosphere where any question could be asked without fear of judgment. You had the feeling that the professor's were there to see you succeed, cultivate intellectual dialogue, and create a new generation of linguists.

I also felt such a community from the assistantship that the program offered me at the Writing Center. I dearly miss the laughs, love, and supportive work environment that the Writing Center fostered. I also gained useful skills tutoring English language learners which further informed my TESOL education.

Question: Do you have any advice for grad students interested in applied linguistics, or for students who are currently in the program?

If you love English and languages and want to know how it functions, this is the program for you! While you are in the program, don't be afraid to ask questions, go to office hours, get peer feedback off of your projects and ideas. Your professors are there to help you grow intellectually so don't be afraid so reach out to them. Don't feel discouraged if you don't understand something right away.

Also, orals aren't as scary as they seem! Form a study group, share notes, quiz each other. You got this!

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