Convocation, Profile

October 15, 2021

Alivia Ungaro already on her way to Speech Language Pathology career

This time last year, Alivia Ungaro had her sights set on graduate school and was beginning her applications to universities to study Speech Language Pathology. She submitted her applications in January and was accepted to University of Alberta and UBC. She began her graduate program this fall and happily told us she has, “many fellow SFU Linguistic graduates with me at UBC right now!” Alivia's convocation ceremony was last week and she is already on her way to fulfilling her career aspirations.

“When I started at SFU, I went in thinking I would just be getting a major in Linguistics. In my first year of university, I met early on with Rita (Academic Advisor, Linguistics) and she told me about the certificate in Speech Science! I was unaware of the certificate before meeting with Rita. Once I heard about it, I knew it was for me.”

Since grade 9, Alivia knew she wanted to be a Speech-Language Pathologist.  Alivia’s parents and high school teachers told her about the field of Linguistics in her senior year of high school. “I mainly studied languages, sciences like biology and some psychology in high school. When I started university, I thought Linguistics was just something I had to take to become an SLP. However, after my first class in LING, I was hooked.”

“I absolutely fell in love with the field and all things Linguistics, it mixed all my favourite aspects of school (psychology, biology, languages, etc.) into one area!”

“My favourite part of linguistics is the science of speech and the International Phonetic Alphabet, I am a total IPA nerd now. And I really enjoyed the areas of child language acquisition, sociolinguistics, speech science, and phonetics. There are also so many great LING profs at SFU. Some of my favourites are Trude Heift, Henny Yeung, Murray Munro, and Trevor Block.”

In addition to classes, Alivia sought out extracurricular activities that would make her time at SFU richer and create a relevant community around her. “I participated in the Speech and Hearing Club. I found this club to be super helpful. So many great resources were provided and truly helped me prepare for graduate school applications. It also connected me to like-minded individuals!” And she worked with the Autism and Developmental Disabilities lab, within the Psychology department.  

“I focused my research on the connection between speech disorders and autism, during my time at the research lab. I found having a research background really helped prepare me for graduate school. Going in, I had experience in conducting research, standardized testing, reading academic papers, literature reviews, and so much more.”

When she looks ahead, she feels prepared. “My Linguistics degree and certificate provided me with experience in Phonology, Syntax, Phonetics, Semantics, Neurolinguistics, Speech Science, Sociolinguistics, and Language Acquisition/Development. I also completed an extended minor in Psychology at SFU which provided me great experience in child development, research methods… I took advanced phonetics and I have used a lot of my prior knowledge from these courses already in graduate school.”

“Since completing my degree from SFU this summer, I have now started my Master of Science degree, in Speech-Language Pathology, at UBC. I am enjoying this next chapter of my life and excited to be an official SLP soon!

“I am so thankful for my time at SFU. I am especially thankful for Rita, she really helped me prepare for applications and offered amazing advice/support."


The Department of Linguistics congratulates Alivia Ungaro 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.  


I have so many favourite LING classes and profs from SFU. Some of the classes I really enjoyed were LING 220, LING 350, LING 290, LING 160, and LING 401.

One of my favourite educational experiences at SFU was working in groups. Linguistics isn't a big department at SFU, so you really get to know each other well and have multiple classes with some of the same people! I have met some amazing people at SFU through the linguistics department and group work for classes. In LING 401, my group members and I conducted our own phonetic experiment -- we had so much fun working on it together.

I made some amazing friends at SFU that I will miss seeing in class each day.


"Make the most out of your education and experience. I struggled with this in my first year and was very shy. Reaching out to classmates for support and study sessions really changed my experience. In addition, don't be afraid to ask profs for help, they really want us to do well!"

For future SLPs just starting their Linguistic degrees: "My biggest advice is to get experience! Although grades are important, it is not the only factor that matters. Having volunteer experience, research knowledge, and making connections are very important!"

"I encourage everyone to get explore the possibilities in their degree to make the most out of it! Time will fly by, it did for me!"

Fall 2021 Featured Graduates

This Fall convocation, the Department of Linguistics is profiling a few of our graduating students so we may get to know their SFU journeys and their accomplishments in the department better.