Spotlight on Social Sciences Alumni: Jill Thorson

Name: Jill Thorson (BA ’05, MA ’07)
Age:  28
Occupation:  Doctoral Student at Brown
Major while at UR: Linguistics
Current city:  Providence, RI



When and how did you choose your major?

I took “People and their Language” on a whim during my freshmen year at UR after the President of the College gave us a speech about the flexibility of the Rochester Curriculum.  I ended up loving the class, the professor and the topic of linguistics in general and subsequently made it my major.

What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?

I was involved in the Equestrian Club at UR, so I was able to train weekly and attend horse shows throughout the region.  This experience provided a great non-academic outlet that I think was an invaluable counterpart to learning.  Both meeting new friends and spending time with the horses made my four years at UR much more manageable.

What resources did you use on campus that you recommend current students use?

The Career Center and the Fellowships Office were of great help to me.  The Career Center was fantastic for getting applications together and making sure my CV was well organized.  Also, with the dedication of many people from the Fellowship Office, I was able to prepare and submit a Fulbright application that I later received to spend a year in Spain.

Who were your mentors while you were on campus? Have you continued those relationships?

My mentor at UR was Prof. Joyce McDonough in Linguistics.  She was the professor of my first Linguistics class and went on to be both my undergraduate and masters adviser.  We are still in great contact today and I now consider her both a colleague and friend.

What did you do immediately after graduation? How did you decide to take that path?

After graduation I stayed at UR to do a Masters degree in Linguistics and then went on to do a Fulbright Research Fellowship in Barcelona, Spain.  I took this time to really figure out exactly what it was that I enjoyed studying before entering into a PhD program.

Where would you like to be in five years?

In five years I hope to be teaching and doing research in lingusitics and cognitive science.  Ideally I would love to find a job in the New England area.