Meet Our TESOL Students
Get to know our students and alumni from the TESOL program.
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.
Dana Shay spent twelve years working in International Business. While she was grateful for the opportunity to travel around the world, she wasn't very passionate about the work she was doing. She got the chance to take sabbatical from her job and travel to Africa, South America, and Asia to teach English. This experience opened her eyes to a love of teaching, and one year ago Dana decided to enroll in the TESOL Master's program here at SSU.
Dana grew up in New Jersey and attended college in Atlanta. She decided on the Master's program at SSU because she liked the flexibility of the program and that it allowed her to explore different interests and ways of thinking. She also liked the small community setting of Sonoma State.
In the future she wants to become a full-time teacher. She hopes to be able to move to another country for a year or two and teach English as a second language. Long term, she would like to teach adults English as well as life skills. Dana loves to teach and work with people. She enjoys watching her students grow and learn. She is grateful for the program at SSU because it will open up a lot of different opportunities for her career.