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During her first semester at Moravian, Amelia Dietrich ’08 found herself in “How the World Works,” an introductory political science course taught by Gary Olson, chair of the political science department. From the minute she understood Olson’s job, Dietrich knew she wanted to be a professor.
“When I was at Moravian, I would have told you I was going to be Gary Olson when I grew up,” Dietrich says. But after graduating in 2008, she took the opportunity to dive into the workforce. After a year as a Spanish translator and intellectual property manager for a local Bethlehem company, Dietrich was ready to head back to school.
As an undergraduate student, Amelia had double majored in political science and Spanish. Through volunteer and work experiences, she realized how much her bilingualism shaped the way she viewed and interacted with the world around her. “I became interested in the unique qualities and struggles of children who had grown up bilingual and the ways that my own bilingualism reshaped my whole life experience and the way I expressed myself.” Amelia’s newfound interests led her to pursue linguistics, and in 2011, she graduated with a Master’s degree in Spanish linguistics from Pennsylvania State University where she is now a Ph.D. candidate researching topics in bilingualism and psycholinguistics.
In her first year at PSU, Amelia was awarded a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship which provides funding for her education and allows her extra time to concentrate on her research. She is deciphering what it takes to master a second language and how being bilingual can benefit one’s ability to process information in either language of fluency. When Moravian College reached out to her for this profile, Amelia was in Granada, Spain, at the Universidad de Granada, conducting eye-tracking research on bilingual college students.
The imprints Moravian left on Amelia run deep. “When I wanted to go to Argentina for a six-month program instead of the usual one-semester stint, Dr. Ferrero said, ‘Go for it!,’” she says of Carmen Ferrero, associate professor of Spanish. Months later, Amelia contacted Ferrero requesting a recommendation letter for her graduate school search. “She was as welcoming as she had been when I was a student,” said Dietrich. “I have always been impressed by the close bond students and professors are able to have because of small class sizes at Moravian.”
This past spring, Amelia got to experience the moment she has been working toward: teaching a college level class. “I loved it,” she says. She is already aching to return to PSU to begin teaching again. “Seeing the lights go on in a student's head and hearing their Spanish get better every day is a rush. Back in POSC 115 I was interested in Gary's job mostly for the schedule, the focus on ideas not products, but now that I understand how the teaching part of the job works, I’ve realized it is incredibly gratifying and I hope to keep doing it for a long time.”
"I have always been impressed by the close bond students and professors are able to have because of small class sizes at Moravian."