April 20, 2021 at 7:58 pm

Class of 2021 | Leah Allan Combines Linguistics, Business and Marketing

Leah Allan touching the owl carved into the Notre Dame de Dijon (a good luck symbol) on the Global Consulting Program (GCP) trip to Dijon France, March 11, 2019.

Leah Allan touching the owl carved into the Notre Dame de Dijon (a good luck symbol) on the Global Consulting Program (GCP) trip to Dijon France, March 11, 2019.

Leah Allan graduates this spring with a triple major in Linguistics, International Business and Marketing, and better still, she now understands how the combination of these seemingly disparate qualifications will help her pursue work opportunities in EdTech.

Q: What was your ah-ha moment at OHIO—that point where you said to yourself, “I’ve got this!”? 

A: The moment that I was finally able to take all my weeks of planning and DARS-scouring and translate it into adding the Linguistics major. I had taken a class or two in the department before I ever added it as a third major, but it felt satisfying being able to confirm that I could add it onto my existing areas of study. That was my first tangible step toward getting my B.A. in Linguistics, so I remember feeling reaffirmed when I left Walter Hall with the “added major” slip of paper in hand!

Q: What stands out in your mind as you think about graduating despite COVID? 

A: The transition to online learning and an online graduation were difficult, and I admit that at points I felt like I was losing touch with my department and the OU community. But in the end, I think that having to adapt to a new environment made many of us students — myself included — have to work harder in our studies. It required a dedication to learning that might have been overlooked if we had spent every day in the same classroom setting, and it forced us to bring our material from the class into the home, where it was more personalized.

I leave OU with a renewed interest in my studies and my academic interests because I was able to bring them “home” into my personal space and learn more about them there.

Q: Who were your favorite professors and how did they make an impact on your life?

A: I have to thank Gabriela Castañeda-Gleason and Liang Tao in the Department of Linguistics for first attracting me to the field. It was Gaby who helped me piece together a career where I could combine business and linguistics with teaching, and Dr. Tao who encouraged me to pursue Chinese as a foreign language. Without them, I would’ve never realized my passion for SLA (second language acquisition) and foreign language education. I’d probably still be grasping straws, trying to figure out my interests in the field.

Q: What was the hardest hill you had to climb (not counting Jeff Hill) at OHIO? And how did you overcome challenges or obstacles in your path?

A: For the longest time, I had confused myself into thinking that business and linguistics could never be related, and that I’d have to choose between them once I graduated. I like to think that the more time I spent in each department, the more I realized that there was overlap and even integration between them.

Linguistics is used all the time in business for marketing and branding, and businesses have to understand linguistic barriers among their markets and workforces to operate efficiently. As I took more classes in each of these disciplines, I was able to draw connections between the content. Now I feel more certain that I can combine my degrees to pursue work in EdTech businesses, and I know that my experience with both business and linguistics will help me equally.

Q: What are your favorite OHIO memories?

A: I will vividly remember the feeling of waiting in the hallways of Gordy before my language classes. Students pile up against the walls with their textbooks out, and you’re able to catch glimpses of their homework in Italian, Spanish, Chinese, and even Swahili. Sometimes they practice their oral presentations with one another, and you can try to guess what their class material is about for that week. It’s interesting, being able to watch the students of other languages practice before their class time. It reminds me that OU has a lot of language opportunities available to students.

Q: What’s the one thing you would tell a new OHIO student not to miss?

A: The international street fair! It’s an opportunity to connect with others and to absorb international culture in a massive community project. Everyone comes together regardless of nationality and is willing to share and to learn from one another. It’s just a plus that the food is also delicious!

Q: What are your next steps/future plans?

A: Given the circumstances of the pandemic, I can’t be certain yet, but I’ve been working toward finding opportunities to teach abroad after graduation. I’d like to spend some time working internationally as an ESL/EFL teacher or a business consultant before (hopefully!) pursuing my M.A.

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