In Plain Language: Immigrating to the U.S. at Eight, Anna Dina L. Joaquin Rose from the Bottom of Her High School Class to the Heights of Linguistics Scholarship

Article excerpt

There was no indication in Dr. Anna Dina L. Joaquin's high school report card that she would one day become a university professor, but the Filipino American's family's strong immigrant values -hard work and education--along with encouragement from a key mentor, eventually propelled her to go from nearly the bottom of her graduating class to earning a doctorate in linguistics.

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It also helped that both of Joaquin's parents, who brought her family to the United States when she was eight years old, earned advanced degrees.

"They have an incredible work ethic and know the value of an education," says Joaquin. "They always instilled that in me."

After attending community college, Joaquin moved on to the University of California, Berkeley to study social welfare. "Social welfare is helping others help themselves," she says, pointing to a mission that has driven her career.

It was at UC Berkeley that Joaquin got the chance to teach English outside the U.S., giving her insight into language acquisition, now one of her main areas of research interest as a professor at California State University, Northridge. When she returned home to Los Angeles, Joaquin found a job teaching English in the city of Alhambra, located west of LA.

"One thing that I really enjoy about teaching English is that it really is a way for others to help themselves," she says.

Further delving into language studies, Joaquin enrolled in a linguistics master's program at UCLA, where she undertook research with Dr. John Schumann.

"He always challenged me to not just be a student," Joaquin says. "He challenged me to be a scholar. He challenged me not to be afraid to be creative.

"In very practical ways, he taught me how to be an academic," Joaquin adds. "All these people [Schumann, her parents] have really contributed to helping me become the person I am today."

Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Timor Leste are a few other places where Joaquin has taught English, adding to her wealth of experience in this area of study.

Along with language acquisition and use, conversation analysis and TESL pedogogy are two of the other areas of study that Joaquin has worked in since her time at UCLA. …