Convocation, Profile

October 14, 2021

Ready to make a difference, Patty Cervantes received her Linguistics degree with a Certificate in TESL

Patty Cervantes is an effervescent young woman with a bright future. We were delighted that she stopped by our Linguistics offices after her convocation ceremony last week to share her celebratory day with us and receive our congratulations in person.

Patty, you are graduated with a Major in Linguistics and a Certificate preparing you to teach ESL.  Why was this the educational path you wanted to take?  

My family and I came to Canada when I was young. My parents were professionals, and they couldn’t do the work they did in the Philippines when we came here.  They had to take other work and learn English and support us kids. I remember so many good people and helping organizations that made a difference for my family to get established here. My linguistics degree and TESL Certificate is a great fit for me because they are already allowing me to give back to the community the way my family was helped growing up. My plans after my degree are just to teach for now. I'm currently a Classroom Assistant at Vancouver Community College for the LINC/ESL Program!

You are already working using your degree. What is it like to be a Classroom Assistant? And what has it been like to assist students during Covid?

As a Classroom Assistant, I'm specifically under Disability Services so I'm working 1-on-1 with a visually impaired LINC 8 student with making sure their materials are accessible, taking notes, and describing other materials their JAWS Program cannot process. JAWS Program is a program that's basically a text-to-speech program that allows them to work independently.  Since the classes are virtual on Zoom, I'm with the student for all classes to make sure anything they need is transcribed and accessible. I'm also there if they just need help with locating or using any computer programs that they might not be able to access through their JAWS Program.

Patty, What did you study in highschool? How did you discover this academic path?

Honestly, all my years in high school, I planned on going into any degree that had “nothing to do with teaching!” I ended up choosing Linguistics at grade 12 after volunteering at an elementary school as an ELL Reading Buddy to the kids and I’ve loved it ever since. Studying Linguistics has been exciting for me because I get to learn about a language in a more in-depth manner than just being proficient in it.  One of my favourite LING classes at SFU was the 100 level class “The Wonder of Words”. We learned about word origin and the ways a word developed and it was one of the coolest subjects and experiences I’ve ever had!

What was your best experience with the SFU Linguistics Student Union (LSU) on campus?

I really enjoyed the LSU C.O.L.D. Series (Careers and Opportunities with Linguistics Degree) where we had student and alumni speakers talk about different pathways and subjects within Linguistics.

It was great for me because of how it allowed the students to be in a closer, small Zoom session than just having guests speak to a big group. One of the most memorable presentations would be Mark Bradshaw's "Travels on Translation."  I learned a lot from his presentation and one of the things that stood out to me is how his career on Translation isn't just set on Interpreting - translating could also be for creating subtitles and making sure they're accessible to all audiences. I'm not sure why it didn't click to me before, but that was very interesting to me!

What are your plans for your career ahead?

I'm not entirely sure myself. I've been volunteering and working with adult learners of English in multiple government-funded programs and so far I've been loving it so I might just continue on. However, when COVID eases, I'm also looking into teaching English abroad though there are so many choices!

The Department of Linguistics congratulates Patty Cervantes 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.  


Linguistics is a very unique program with so many pathways to go through. I would recommend trying everything you can at the beginning, so you know which path to take in the future -- Oh and enjoy!!


The Certificate in TESL Linguistics (CTESL) is a program for current SFU undergraduate students that introduces foundational topics in English grammar, second language acquisition, and classroom practices. Successful completion of a 30-hour practicum in an adult ESL program is required. The certificate program prepares students for advanced study in applied linguistics and TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language). Spring 2022 Application deadline is January 31.

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.