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Student Bios

Asmaa Yazidi Alaoui

Asmaa Yazidi Alaoui ('23)

Asmaa is from Eastern Morocco and is running after her dreams in pursuing the MSLT degree. She has two Bachelor's degrees–one in linguistics and the other in language pedagogy–and has a variety of experiences in second language teaching with children and adults of varying ages from different cultures. Her academic and applied experiences have therefore given her theoretical and pedagogical knowledge about how to be an effective educator. In 2018, she served as a Fulbright teaching assistant at Carleton College in Minnesota, an experience that was an excellent opportunity to expand her cultural understanding. The Fulbright journey led her to discover many wonderful experiences, ranging from meeting people from all over the world and sharing language and culture to promote mutual understanding among other nations. She is a very active person who interacts easily with people and loves nature and outdoor activities. She also likes spending time hanging out with friends as well as traveling and living new experiences.

Saralee Dunster

Saralee Dunster ('23)

Originally from Missouri, Saralee started studying French in high school, and continued taking French classes at Brigham Young University-Idaho. It was there she had an opportunity to teach English in St. Petersburg, Russia for four months which was her first time teaching, let alone visiting a foreign country. Following her trip, she expanded her experience in language by serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Tacoma, Washington teaching Cambodians in Khmer. After returning and finishing her Associate's degree at BYU-I, she finally lived her dream of going to France to study French. Although tempted to extend her studies beyond one semester there, she was accepted to BYU where she received her Bachelor's in English Language, with minors in Editing and TESOL, and a certificate of proficiency in French. Saralee is excited for the opportunity to teach a French course and to study teaching methods and language learning theories to better sustain students' enthusiasm throughout their pursuit of becoming proficient in a second language.

Weixi Dong 23

Weixi Dong ('23)

Weixi is originally from Guangzhou, located in southern China. After several years of teaching English to students ranging in ages from 3-18 years old, she has discovered her true passion in teaching and working with students. Cici loves to see her students interact and engage in various classroom activities and enjoy their language learning experiences. She is grateful for the diverse teaching opportunities that she has had and is currently a 3rd grade dual language immersion Chinese teacher in the Alpine School District. As a passionate educator, she is a life-long learner and embodies the ideals of self-development and perseverance. While pursuing the MSLT degree, Cici hopes to build a foundation that will help her be even more versatile and effective with her students in the classroom. Cici loves traveling, photography, making new friends, and trying new experiences. Since singing is her favorite hobby, she once sang karaoke for six hours straight.

Siyu Ji 23

Siyu Ji ('23)

Siyu comes from Beijing, China and has always been interested in language teaching and learning. She has a Bachelor's degree in teaching Chinese as a second language. Siyu has been a teacher since she graduated from college and first worked in an international school in Beijing as a language teacher before coming to Logan in 2018. Currently, she is a Chinese teacher in a Dual Language Immersion program in the Cache County School District. She joins the MSLT program to gain more in-depth knowledge about current language teaching methods with an aim to provide a better Chinese learning experience for her students. Siyu loves hiking and swimming in her spare time. She also enjoys sightseeing and has been to twelve American national parks since 2018.

Madison Johnson 23

Madison Johnson ('23)

Maddie grew up in Southern Utah and, because of that, has a love for the mountains and anything outdoors including climbing, hiking, and backpacking. She has been interested in foreign languages and cultures from a young age. One of her earliest memories is interviewing her dad’s friend from Brazil so she could learn Portuguese. She started her own journey learning Spanish in high school and continues to develop her language skills via university-level coursework. Maddie loves to travel. Her long-term goals include living in a foreign country and teaching English and/or teaching college-level ESL courses. Maddie has spent countless hours working and volunteering in various ESL programs and is currently a full-time 2nd grade teacher in a dual language immersion program. She is excited to work and learn with other MSLT students in the coming years.

Maggie Lin 23

Tzu-Hsin (Maggie) Lin ('23)

Tzu-Hsin (Maggie) is from Taipei, Taiwan, and she has spent most of her life learning different languages. She speaks Mandarin, Taiwanese Hokkien, English, and Japanese. Her passion for language learning and teaching has driven her to pursue the MSLT degree and gain more knowledge and experience in Second Language Teaching. Maggie has a bachelor’s degree in Applied Foreign Languages and worked as an assistant teacher at a bilingual kindergarten. She has also been teaching English to middle school and high school students at language schools in Taiwan for two years. Knowing that experience is the best teacher, Maggie spent two months at a language school in Portland in 2019 to observe and enhance her teaching skills. She believes that putting herself into students’ shoes will allow her to be more understanding and patient when working with students from different cultural backgrounds. After graduating from the program, she plans on becoming an inspiring Dual Language Immersion teacher and making a difference for her students. Maggie loves cooking, playing the guitar, and singing. She also loves making friends with people from around the world and sharing travel experiences with others.

Yu-shan Lin 23

Yu-shan Lin ('23)

Yu-shan loves to cook and try foods from different countries. She also enjoys traveling in order to gain a variety of different cultural experiences and perspectives. She believes that culture and language are inseparable; if one wants to learn a culture, they must learn the language of that culture. She also believes that through language learning experiences, students have the opportunity to resolve misunderstandings and help reduce discrimination in the world. Pursuing the MSLT degree will allow her to learn more about how to be an effective second language teacher and help her become familiar with current technological approaches that facilitate second language learning.

Matthew Taylor 22Matthew Taylor ('23)

Matthew is a first-generation college student from West Jordan, Utah. He is a graduate from Brigham Young University-Idaho with a Bachelor’s degree in International Studies and a minor in Asian Languages. In 2019, he married his lovely wife Betty and they will celebrate their first wedding anniversary as Matthew enters the MSLT program. They enjoy traveling, baking, and exploring the outdoors. Matthew has experience teaching and tutoring Mandarin Chinese and English as a Second Language. Recently, he taught at a Chinese Immersion School in Rigby, Idaho. He is passionate about education and hopes to pursue a doctorate degree upon completing the MSLT degree at Utah State University.

Zach Brown 22Zach Brown ('22)
Zach lived in Arizona and Virginia during his childhood but grew up for the most part in Utah. After high school, he taught immigrant communities in England for two years as a full-time missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, during which time he acquired proficiency in the Slovak and Czech languages. He then returned to the United States to obtain his Bachelor’s in English at USU. While there, he worked as a classroom assistant for the Intensive English Language Institute, which solidified a desire to teach English as a Second Language for his career. After graduation, he traveled to Slovakia as a Fulbright English Teaching Instructor. With a goal to teach English as a Second Language at universities outside the United States, Zach joined the MSLT program. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, writing, playing basketball and other games with family and friends, and playing and listening to music.
Kallen Brunson 22Kallen Brunson ('22)

Kallen is from Cache Valley and graduated from Utah State University with double degrees in International Studies and Chinese. She was an undergraduate researcher, mainly focusing on second language learning and dual language immersion programs. As she traveled around the globe, her love for languages and geopolitics has only grown. She speaks Chinese, Spanish, and is slowly learning how to speak Taiwanese Hokkien, her heritage language. She hopes that one day, she'll use her degrees to work in linguistic preservation and revitalization, using the teaching methods she's learned in the MSLT program.

 

Jen Cummings 22Jen Cummings ('22)

Jen grew up in New England and Chicago and then moved to Logan to attend Utah State University. During college, she became very involved with the Deaf community and fell in love with ASL and Deaf Culture. She worked in local school districts teaching Deaf children and then began teaching ASL classes in 2007. She currently teaches ASL to a great group of middle school and high school students. She is always looking for ways to be a more effective teacher and is excited to learn and apply new ideas from the MSLT program. When she’s not teaching, she loves reading, singing, and spending time with her family.

Caston Holbrook 22Caston Holbrook ('22)

Caston was born and raised on a cattle ranch in the mountains of Southeastern Idaho and therefore is fascinated with all things outdoors and athletics. He served a two-year church mission in the Dominican Republic where he learned about both the Dominican culture and Spanish. That experience was the moment when a love for languages and an appreciation of the diversity of people was instilled in him. Afterwards, he studied Linguistics at BYU-Idaho, transferred to Utah State, studied abroad in Spain for a time, and graduated with a BA in Spanish and a minor in Linguistics from USU. Once completing the MSLT program, he hopes to one day pursue doctoral work with an aim to eventually teach and carry out research at a university.

Lila JensenLila Jensen ('22)

Since she was young, Lila has been fascinated by the beauty and mystery of different cultures, which has drawn her to live in a few different countries, including Hawaii, Japan, and Korea. While attending junior college, she learned Japanese and French, and taught Chinese to Japanese and American students in exchange for learning more about their peoples and cultures. Later, she completed her undergraduate degree in Fine Arts from Brigham Young University-Hawaii. Currently, she is a full-time, 3rd grade Chinese dual language immersion teacher in Cache Valley, Utah. During her spare time, she enjoys cooking different ethnic foods, hanging out with friends and family, hiking, and practicing yoga.

Rachel Mano 21Rachel Mano ('22)
Rachel is a true bilingual, having acquired both English and Spanish from birth. She has lived in and traveled to many wonderful places around the world, including Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Costa Rica, and Kenya. She loves learning about different cultures. Rachel graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Spanish in 2003 from Utah State University and since then has been working in the business field mentoring and training sales teams. During that time, she gained an appreciation for creating teaching strategies to help others understand difficult concepts. Her husband is also an Aggie and has been a professor of Computer Science at USU since 2006. She has 4 children ages 19, 17, 14 and 11; all of whom are her biggest support.
Lucia Martin 22Lucia Martin ('22)

Lucia was born in Madrid, Spain. She has two Bachelor’s degrees in teaching (for Kindergarten- and Elementary-aged students) along with an ESL endorsement from Alcala de Henares University in Madrid. She earned two scholarships from the Spanish Government to travel to the UK to improve her English, living in Bournemouth, London, and Liverpool. While in college, she worked for the Education Science department, creating science materials and activities for public schools of Alcala de Henares. In 2009, after graduating with her second degree, she published an article with her math professor (Anna Torres Vazquez) about the impact of math students’ journals in their self-learning process. She began working as a teacher in a school in Spain where she worked for 5 years before deciding to apply for an exchange teacher program in the United States. As a result, she is currently (2019) beginning her fifth year of teaching in the Spanish Dual Language Immersion program in Utah, which she loves and supports with all her heart. In her free time, she usually reads a book, goes for walks, or hangs out with friends. Her favorite part of being with friends is convincing them to pull out the Karaoke and sing.

Laura Medina 22Laura Medina ('22)

Laura is originally from Lima, Peru, and moved to the United States in 2010. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Education with an emphasis in teaching English as a foreign language while in Peru. She has been a teacher since 2006 and has taught English to elementary-aged students as well as to adults in English language centers throughout Lima. Since living in Cache Valley, she has taught middle school-level ESL and Spanish classes and elementary-level Spanish Dual Immersion courses with the Cache County School District. She currently tutors students in Spanish at USU and is also learning French. She loves learning and teaching languages and has always focused on helping language learners communicate effectively. Besides languages, she enjoys learning about cultures and the diversity they bring, especially in the area of education. She also enjoys spending time with her husband and family, traveling, singing, and listening to music.

Aline Reis 22Aline Reis ('22)

Aline is a confident and experienced instructor with a Bachelor’s degree in Education. She has worked in Brazil’s public school system in Curitiba where she taught children in the first through fifth grades. In addition, Aline has experience teaching English to children and adults of varying ages. She moved to Utah three years ago and is currently working as a passionate third grade Portuguese teacher in the dual immersion program. Aline enjoys spending time with her husband and children, cooking, singing, and reading. She loves living in Utah and being part of the dual language immersion program, where her students and her own children can practice Portuguese and English while in school.

 
Jana Quadros 22Jana Quadros ('22)

Jana is from southern Brazil. She came to the United States in 2017 with her husband and their three kids to be a Portuguese teacher for the dual language immersion program in Cache Valley. She is a 6th grade teacher and absolutely loves what she does. She has always considered learning a new language much more than learning grammar, comprehending texts, and memorizing rules. For her, learning a new language is like a key that opens doors to understanding and becoming part of a new culture. Jana earned her Bachelor’s degree in tourism because knowing new places and meeting new people was her passion. However, she then realized that education was even a bigger passion, and that’s why she went back to college to earn a second degree in Education. She has been teaching for almost 20 years. She loves spending time with her family, hiking, watching movies, reading, and going to church.

Naomi Fujii 21Naomi Fujii ('21)

Naomi was born in Fukuoka and raised in Tokyo, Japan. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Law and worked in a leasing company in Japan. She later had an opportunity to move to Taiwan and studied Mandarin Chinese at National Taiwan Normal University for 3 years. After completing the MSLT program, her goal is to become a Japanese teacher. She likes living in beautiful Cache Valley and when not in school, enjoys spending time with her small dachshund-mixed dog Becky and doing a variety of outdoor activities such as hiking, golf, cross country skiing, and fishing. She especially enjoys ice fishing in winter.

Jessica HerculesJessica Hercules ('21)

Jessica graduated from USU with a BA in liberal arts, minoring in French and linguistics. During her time in Logan, she volunteered at the English Language Center of Cache Valley. This experience helped her find the MSLT program and guided her toward a career in adult education. Jessica has been coordinating and teaching English language classes for adult immigrants and refugees in Salt Lake City since 2014. She is looking forward to completing the MSLT program and furthering her career in adult education, all while still finding time to spend with her husband, two sons, and wiener dog.

 
Becca Jackson

Becca Jackson ('21)

I graduated from Brigham Young University-Idaho with a degree in Health Science. I opted for a career shift after discovering my love for teaching. I have volunteered at a school in India, taught ESL classes to immigrants, and am currently teaching English online. When I am not in school or working, you can find me reading, baking, or hiking with my husband Kaden, and our big goofy dog Hank.

Wanre Xue 21

Wanru Xue (’21)

Wanru is from Northern China. She completed her Bachelor’s degree at Utah State University in Economics in December 2018. In her last year as an undergraduate student, she was a Chinese tutor. After that, Wanru found what she was really interested in becoming a Chinese teacher. She believes that learning any language means to learn the ways of thinking in that culture. Wanru is excited to be a part of the MSLT program. She enjoys hiking and traveling with her friends.