Katy Thompson Earns Governor General's Silver Medal

June 12, 2018

Congratulations to Katy Thompson for earning the Governor General's Silver Medal!

Feel free to read an entire story by clicking on this link.

In addition to the wonderful article above, we asked some hard-hitting questions specifically aimed at linguistics.

How were you able to maintain such a high GPA, and were there any special awards you received during your undergraduate degree?

My final CGPA was 4.30. Honestly, I don't have any secret as to how I kept my GPA at that level. I studied hard, stayed organized, and wasn't afraid to ask questions. I majored in Linguistics, and also received certificates in Liberal Arts and the Linguistics of Speech Science. I started my degree in the fall of 2013, and graduated in October 2017. I also took full advantage of opportunities to study abroad during undergrad, including participating in the French immersion Explore Program at the University of Sherbrooke and spending my fourth year as an exchange student at the University of Glasgow. While studying in Scotland, I took additional linguistics courses, including Name Studies, for which I wrote an essay that earned me the Society for Name Studies in Britain and Ireland Essay Prize. I also won University of Glasgow's Tannahill Prize for being the top student enrolled in ASTRO1004: Exploring the Cosmos.

Which linguistics course did you find the most interesting at SFU?

That's a tough question to answer! I learned something from every linguistics course I took, and found myself enjoying both phonetics/phonology and syntax - many linguistics students prefer one over the other. If I had to choose a favourite course though, I'd probably say LING 415: Introduction to Neurolinguistics, because I am fascinated by the intersection between language and the brain - language acquisition and brain development, language learning and bilingualism, language disorders, language cognition, and much more. This branch of linguistics has so many practical applications and crossovers with other fields of study.

Where do you hope to see yourself in five years?

During undergrad, and particularly after taking some related linguistics courses, I developed a fascination in the relationship between language and the brain. To nurture this burgeoning interest, I started volunteering in speech language pathology and child health clinics as well as at a residential care facility. In the future, I hope to pursue a career in a helping profession.

What advice would you give to new undergraduates who want to study linguistics?

First of all, just do it! I settled on SFU linguistics for a number of reasons: I had some fantastic professors early on in my degree; I experienced a more intimate learning environment compared to those of larger departments; and I loved the content itself, which combined the sciences and the arts in a way that appealed to both my logical and creative inclinations. If those sound like draws, then linguistics might be the right fit for you. I would encourage undergraduates to take an introductory linguistics course and see if they like it; in particular, LING 220: Introduction to Linguistics, is a good choice as it surveys the main branches of linguistics that higher level courses cover in more detail.