Brianne Nelson is originally from Mendocino County, and earned a B.A in English from Sonoma State in the early 2000's. During this time, she was taking linguistics courses and became very interested in language.
In 2004 Brianne was hired as a 911 dispatcher for the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office. She had traveled extensively around Central and South America, so she knew some Spanish, but not enough to feel comfortable answering non-English emergency calls. She returned to SSU in 2008 for a B.A in Spanish. During this time, she studied abroad in Mexico for a year at Tecnológico de Monterrey. After returning to the states she resumed her job as a dispatcher.
Several years later she returned to school once again for a Master's. She'd originally planned to earn a Master's in Spanish, but found that the classes weren't what she was looking for. By a happy accident she ended up in an Education class with MaryAnn Nickel (Second Language Acquisition), and quickly realized the TESOL program fit her needs.
She likes the TESOL program because it's hands-on and the coursework is applicable. She was initially worried about how she'd be perceived, as a "non-typical" student (not a teacher), but she received immense support and encouragement from her professors and fellow classmates. Her motive is to educate other dispatchers and collectively pick apart how the emergency response system functions, and how it can be improved. She hopes to collaborate to create courses and curriculum that will target how emergency responders can better serve non-English speakers in the community and beyond.