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Alumni Stories: Jubal Metzger-Smith, ‘21, TESOL

Question: What has been your career experience since graduation?

I have been a sign language interpreter for 27 years and I'm continuing in that profession. I'm also honored to serve as an adjunct instructor in the English Language Center at ODU, where I've been able to put all the amazing things I have learned in the Linguistics program to practical use!

Question: What is your current job?

Sign language interpreter, adjunct instructor at ODU.

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

I find it ironic that 2 of the most difficult classes in the program (for me anyway), Phonology and Syntax, are the ones I've had to fall back on the most often. While teaching at ODU, having a better understanding of phonology helps me be more aware of students trying to master English.

Additionally, I've been able to use my knowledge of syntax to help those in the K-12 educational system have a better understanding of why deaf students whose L1 is ASL, struggle so much with English.

Quite frequently I've used my knowledge of language acquisition to foster the importance of deaf children learning ASL or a signed system as early as possible. Too many deaf students come into the K-12 setting with severe linguistic delays. Having a clear understanding of language acquisition has helped me advocate for interpreter placement as soon as possible.

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

2 things stand out. The first one is taking my graduate research from First and Second Language Acquisition and presenting it as a paper presentation at a linguistic conference at East Carolina University. I left with an award, "Outstanding Paper Presentation" which was a pretty amazing feeling!

The second thing that stands out is the incredibly close friendships I gained while in the program. Several of us who went through the program together have formed a tight knit bond. We get together frequently throughout the year for dinner, BBQs, drag shows, and we even went on a camping trip together!

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

I loved all of my classes (well "loved" might not apply to ALL of them) but I learned and enjoyed them primarily because of the amazing instructors in the program. On a couple of different occasions, I felt overwhelmed. At one point early on I had even decided I chose the wrong program. Fortunately, some wise professors talked me off the ledge and I forged on. I think what I enjoyed about the program was the opportunity in several classes to engage in some amazing dialogues about language, ideology, biases, culture, communication, discourse, etc. These discussions helped me take an honest look at myself and my beliefs about language.

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

The big mystery and source of stress is the dreaded Oral Exams. I stressed about them from day one and I figure most of you are stressing as well. So, here's some advice I wish was given to me:

  • Save all your work in folders you can easily access, including tests. If they're paper tests, scan them because you'll need them for your e-portfolio as well as study aids.
  • Pay attention when professors tell you, "This will be on the oral exams," because it will.
  • Ask for clarification on points that are hazy.
  • Remember those bonds you form? Use them that final semester and form study partners, or even study groups.
  • Don't wait until the last minute to study.
  • Approach your professors and talk about the oral exam. They will help you with what they can in preparation for the exams.
  • Finally, enjoy the program! It'll be over before you know it.

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