Graduate Rachelle Deutsch followed her love of languages to a degree in linguistics
Rachelle Deutsch has always loved studying languages so it’s not surprising that she found her first linguistics class at SFU “absolutely amazing.” Deutsch is graduating with a BA as a linguistics major this June and says such courses as Sign Language Phonology, and Human Sentence Processing opened her eyes to the discipline’s still unanswered questions.
“One of the biggest questions is the search for a universal underlying form where certain parts of a sentence always occur in the same order; we just think to move them before we communicate. In other words, they are trying to find a common similarity between all languages, which is harder than it seems as there are categories of languages, such as verb first, verb last, etc. It is debated among linguists whether we need this or if all languages are totally different.”
Deutsch spent time during her undergrad volunteering with the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences’ Peer Mentor Program. In her first term she found it incredibly valuable to have another linguistics student available to ease her transition to university life.
“I wanted other students to have a positive experience as well, so I was a mentor for my last two years at SFU,” she says. “I loved being able to help new students and provide resources I wished I had known about, as well as helping make their first semester a bit easier.”
Deutsch also volunteered as an English as an Additional Language peer in the Student Learning Commons for four terms, an opportunity that let her connect with international students and help them with their conversation skills.
After she finished her degree in December, 2019, Deutsch travelled to Africa. Since her return, she’s been working to establish her own English as a Second language company which she plans to launch at the end of June.
Her advice to students who are new to SFU? A tried and true directive of getting involved in campus life.
“Find something you enjoy, be it joining a club, becoming an executive for that club, becoming a mentor, or helping out with many of the volunteer positions on campus,” she says. “It makes a huge difference when you graduate. Plus it switches things up so you’re not always studying.”