Convocation, Profile

June 28, 2021

Sydney Osenton Welch graduates with Joint Major in Linguistics and Anthropology

Sydney Osenton Welch, we rarely have students do the Joint Major in Linguistics and Anthropology!  Tell us more about why this was a great fit for you and how you see the two fields relating to each other in your studies:

“As someone who grew up in England, went to an international school and was constantly surrounded by friends and staff from around the globe, I got to learn about and experience many different cultures and the languages and dialects they used. I enjoyed getting to know my peers, and how they interacted away from and at home. I started my SFU career out as a Sociology intended major actually. Language is so important to us as a society - as a nation - that I found it fascinating to be able to spend some of my SFU career analysing how language was used in various cultures and communities around the world. The combination of the disciplines allowed me to become more critically aware of not only the people around me, but how we interact with one another, and the messages we leave behind.”

If you think back to grade 9, what were your plans for post secondary study? How did you discover this joint major?

In high school I completed my GCSEs (General Certificate of Secondary Education), where I took general classes – Science, Maths, English, French and Music. For my last two years of high school, I completed my IB Diploma, which included Higher Level subjects in English, French and Music. With a set curriculum, I unfortunately didn’t get to learn about Linguistics, or Anthropology!

I started at SFU in Fall 2016 in Sociology.  I didn’t venture into Linguistics until Spring 2018 (after having completed most of the SA lower division courses).

When I took LING 220 with Trude Heift, as an elective, it changed my university path. I loved it! 220 was my springboard to realising I wanted to work with understanding the construction and importance of language.

But, I didn’t want to give up on Sociology, I’d spent a long time developing my knowledge there. So, after some research into program choices, I came across the Joint Major in Linguistics and Anthropology.

As they are programs within the same department, I didn’t have to do many different lower division electives – the difference came in third and fourth year. I’ve really enjoyed studying Linguistics, and learning about Sociolinguistics and Linguistic Anthropology

Did you participate in the Linguistics Student Union? Or any other SFU clubs and extracurricular activities?

I didn’t work with the LSU, but I was an executive member for SASU (Sociology and Anthropology Student Union) from Fall 2016 to June 2018. I enjoyed working with other students and I worked with their newsletter and on their social media platforms.

Over the past year however, I have been involved in the LSU’s virtual study hangouts on Tuesday nights, which have been a great relief from COVID isolation!

I am also a musician (I took time during my SFU studies to complete a Music Diploma from Douglas College in April 2020), and have been an active member of SFUCO, where I have played Violin, Viola, Recorder and Oboe. I have gained many wonderful friends there, and it really helped shape my time at SFU!

I also worked with FASS as a peer mentor and on the Calling Campaign – some experiences that really helped me grow as a person and advocate for SFU.

Sydney, what are you going to be doing next? What are your plans for your career ahead?

I haven’t fully decided where I will go next after graduating, but I know I want to work with people.

Working to support and understand the needs of others is essential in a potential career field. I hope to employ something related to Linguistics and Anthropology, but in the meantime, I have gained experience in working as an online ESL teacher (thanks LING 362 and Claudia!) and using my skills outside of the academic field.

Do you have any advice you would like to offer Linguistics undergrads who are at the beginning of their studies in Linguistics?

My advice to all students, not just to Linguistics students is to GET INVOLVED! I know it sounds cliché but volunteering at SFU really helped shape who I am today! I met some great people, who I will definitely miss!

For Linguistic students specifically: take as many LING classes as you can! There are so many to choose from, that I wish I’d taken more! Don’t be afraid to ask your peers and profs for help - they were once in the same position as you!

The Department of Linguistics congratulates Sydney Osenton Welsh on all her accomplishments here at SFU.  We congratulate all our Linguistics majors and minors at this special time on all their accomplishments at SFU.  We wish you all a bright future and encourage you to stay in touch.  


LING 220 – Dr. Trude Heift is one of my favourite professors because she encouraged my interest in Linguistics, and engaged many new conversations. Trude’s teaching style is something I really appreciated, and loved the well-rounded intro to the discipline.

LING 309/360 – Sociolinguistics (309) has to be one of my favourite classes at SFU, because it really spoke to my degree choice. Taking classes during the pandemic was really challenging, but my prof – Dasha Gluhareva – made the course accommodating and really enjoyable!

SA 368 Language, Ideology and Power. (examines how language shapes and is shaped by culture, power, and social relations.) This course was THE course that encapsulates my joint major.

Dr. Jie Yang – with her background in Sociolinguistics, helped me delve into Linguistic Anthropology, where we discussed language use across cultures and communities. I was able to create my own essay project, where I analysed the Queen’s speech from Christmas 2019, it was really fun and interesting! I learnt a lot, and wish there had been more courses like this!

Spring 2021 Featured Graduates

This spring convocation, the Department of Linguistics is recognizing a small group of graduating students for their accomplishments in the department.