Internship at Harvard
Allyson Stronach, an English (Language and Linguistics) major, spent the summer on a paid internship at Harvard University. She worked in psychology professor Jesse Snedeker’s Laboratory for Developmental Studies on a project entitled “Structural Priming in Locatives and Datives in Children and Adults.” Allyson’s duties included recruitment, data processing, video coding, and running participants in the study she worked on. She also attended lectures on child language acquisition at Harvard and MIT and read extensively in the current academic and professional literature. Working with Professor Snedeker as her advisor and Margarita Zeitlin as her mentor, she made two presentations to the faculty in the developmental studies lab and created a poster presentation at the end of her internship.
Ally was one of only 13 undergraduates chosen nationwide to participate in the highly competitive internship program, which placed students in two different psychology labs at Harvard. She learned about the opportunity through one of her UNR linguistics professors, Dr. Brook Lillehaugen, who also reviewed many drafts of Ally’s resumé and application letter, set up a mock interview, and pointed out articles on women in the sciences.
Currently a tutor in the University Writing Center, Ally knew that she could also get help there with her application. Professor Bill Macauley, Director of the Writing Center, reviewed her letter and resumé and began a writing-center-wide conversation about professionalization and self-representation in competitive applications like Ally’s. When the time came for her interview for the internship, Ally says, she felt confident and well prepared.
As a linguistics student at UNR, Ally received an undergraduate research award for a project in historical linguistics, a study of the use of the Roman alphabet to record the Zapotec language. She will present her research this January in Boston at the annual conference of the Society for the Study of Indigenous Languages in America.
Passionate about the field of linguistics from the time she saw a PBS Nova program on the Maya Code, Ally has taken as many linguistics courses as she possibly could. But the Harvard internship opened a new field to her at the intersection of the linguistics and psychology. “I discovered something I didn’t even know I’d like,” Ally says. “There is so much to do—enough work to be done that I can at least find a niche for myself.”