Rising Stars: Meet Victoria Melgarejo

For several years, we have featured linguists with established careers and interesting stories to tell. This year, we will also be highlighting “Rising Stars” throughout our Fund Drive, undergraduates who were nominated by their mentors for their exceptional interest in linguistics and eager participation in the global community of language researchers.

Selected nominees were asked to share their view of the field of linguistics: what topics they see emerging as important or especially interesting, what role they see the field filling in the coming decades, and how they plan to contribute. We hope you will enjoy the perspectives of these students, who represent the bright future of our field.

Today, we are excited to share the perspective of Victoria Melgarejo, a senior at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She has conducted several research projects on bilingual classroom interaction, code-switching on television, and language attitudes of monolingual and bilingual Latinx persons.

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Victoria Melgarejo

We are constantly immersed in language whether we notice it or not. It is present in everything from conversations, to signs, text, and speeches. As linguists we love to think about the language that surrounds us as we go about our lives. Today, with the rise in the use of social media platforms, I can see the field of linguistics growing and expanding to focus on online discourse. With millions of people making a footprint online it is interesting and exciting to understand the different linguistic varieties and linguistic practices that take place in this platform. Different communities of practice utilize language online in unique and exciting ways, and I see this becoming a hot area of interest in the near future. Younger generations are utilizing social media platforms for activism, to spread information, and to build communities. This is largely new, as just a couple years ago this was not the case. As youth in America become more and more politically active online, I believe that focusing on online youth political discourse will be an exciting area of study.

Linguists are often conversing about language; however, it is imperative that we analyze language and its ties to the larger social issues. I first became interested in research in linguistics when I began reading about linguistics as a tool to deconstruct and help fight some of the social issues of our times. I was able to use my research to highlight and raise awareness to some of the problems in our society that I felt needed to be discussed more.

Therefore, I believe it is important that we teach our students about linguistic diversity in our classrooms, and as a society, that we learn to appreciate diversity. I envision linguistics and language studies taking a more active role socio-politically to solve current and future problems. I can see linguists taking a central role on national debates because it is our duty to analyze language in all different forms and contexts in order to advocate for sociolinguistic justice. We need to denounce discrimination and injustices because this is how we as linguists can contribute to improving our society.

Reading literature in the field of linguistics has allowed me to see where research has focused and what needs to be researched more. I have conducted research on translanguaging in the classroom, linguistic representation of Latinxs in media and currently on the linguistic attitudes, biases, and insecurities of bilingual and English-dominant Latinxs. My goal is to continue my education this fall by pursuing a Ph.D. in Education in the Race, Inequalities, and Language in Education program (RILE) at Stanford University. I plan to keep contributing to the field of linguistics and in the community of researchers by continuing my research in sociocultural linguistics. I am interested in bilingualism and English Language Learners and I am passionate to conduct innovative research in the way language is used in the classroom to improve classroom participation and student achievement. My dream is to become a full-time professor and researcher.

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If you have a student who you believe is a “Rising Star” in linguistics, we would love to hear about them! We are still accepting nominations for exceptional young linguists. Please see the call for nominations for more information.

If you have not yet–please visit our Fund Drive page to learn more about us and why we need your help! The LINGUIST List relies on your generous donations to continue it support of linguists around the world.

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