MSU College of Arts & Letters student Darby Grachek graduated this spring with a Master’s of Arts in Linguistics and says it was her MSU education and experiences here that propelled her to pursue a Ph.D.
“If it weren’t for the different research labs and professors at MSU giving me opportunities to do different kinds of research, I would’ve never even thought to apply to a Ph.D. program in Linguistics,” Grachek said. “I’m super grateful for how generous and helpful they all are.”
Grachek will continue her education this fall at the University of Southern California where she was accepted into the Linguistics Ph.D. program.
If it weren’t for the different research labs and professors at MSU giving me opportunities to do different kinds of research, I would’ve never even thought to apply to a Ph.D. program in Linguistics.
Her academic career first began when she came to MSU from Lansing Community College after taking an introductory linguistics course there. With that course, her love for languages took hold and later blossomed at MSU with experiences like her Japanese courses and a study abroad to Japan. She said that opportunities like that gave her more of an appreciation for linguistics and made her “into the person that I am now.”
During her time as an undergraduate studying Linguistics at MSU, Grachek did research in the Child Language Acquisition Lab with Associate Professors of Linguistics Cristina Schmitt and Alan Munn. This opportunity, she said, “really shaped my experience as an undergraduate student.” She also did undergraduate research at the MSU Language Acquisition Lab with the “Playing With The Perfect” project, which earned her team first place at the 2019 University Undergraduate Research and Arts Forum and provided her with a better idea about future careers.
This project is what put her in contact with her two mentors, Munn and Schmidt, who helped guide her career path. Other faculty mentors include Assistant Professor Mieko Philips, her first Japanese professor during her time as an undergraduate, and Assistant Professor Karthik Durvasula, who pushed Grachek in her research pursuits and oversaw her experimental phonology thesis work.
The Linguistics faculty at MSU are so dedicated to helping students get a taste of the type of research and experimental work they can do in the field of Linguistics.
“The Linguistics faculty at MSU are so dedicated to helping students get a taste of the type of research and experimental work they can do in the field of Linguistics,” said Grachek, whose master’s thesis is about finding the kind of information people use when they analyze different sequences of sounds.
“My main goal with my thesis was to find a way to separate different kinds of knowledge using methodological factors like reaction time,” Grachek said. “It feels nice to earn this master’s! I’m proud of my accomplishments.”
Now with her master’s degree completed, Grachek says she is moving on with a strong foundation in her field.
Written by Alec Parr