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Graduate Student Alex Hyler Receives Sigma Delta Pi Grant

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Alex Hyler, Graduate Teaching Assistant and Master’s in Foreign Languages and Literatures student, recently received the Sigma Delta Pi Graduate Research Grant.

As an active officer in the Sigma Delta Pi Spanish Honor Society for 2.5 years, Alex was the ideal candidate for the grant. “I first served as vice-president in the fall of 2014,” she describes, “and then served as President from spring of 2015 – December 2015.”

The grant is helping to fund her research in the Yucatan this summer alongside Dr. Jim Michnowicz for her MA research project. There, she will be conducting 12 sociolinguistic interviews in Merida, Yucatan with young (19-20 year-old) monolinguals (Spanish speaking only) and bilinguals (May and Spanish speaking). “Yucatan Spanish (YS),” Alex explains, “is unique because it has a very distinct accent. Previous studies show that YS has a different intonational pattern in comparison to more standard varieties of Spanish (Michnowicz & Barnes 2013).”

Alex herself is bilingual, speaking both English and Spanish, and has studied Spanish for about 10 years. Her research interests center on language contact, and she specifically is intrigued by the rapid changes that previous research shows with the Yucatan dialect. The research projected for this summer will add to the linguistics field, adding a new generation to the study due to existing data being 10 years old.

She looks to faculty members Dr. Jim Michnowicz, Dr. Rebecca Ronquest, and Dr. Valerie Wust for inspiration. “They all played a role in my success into this program and NC State and all contributed to my grant process,” Alex says. “Not only have they helped me reach my academic goals, but they continue to serve as supportive mentors.”

In her free time, Alex enjoys cooking and spending time with friends. She is also a lover of Boxer puppies, and volunteers at the North Carolina Dental Society. She also has an incredibly bright future, with limitless research opportunities and plans to apply for and pursue a Master’s in Speech Pathology at UNC.

Her future studies are also broad. “The sky is the limit for what I could study next, because since the Yucatan Spanish dialect is understudied, there are several things I could look into,” Alex explains. “But first…¡Vamos a México!

On behalf of the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures: Congratulations, Alex!

By Jasmyn Morere

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