Alumni News (Summer 2017)


Since graduation, Alice Astarita has taught beginning and intermediate Italian at MiraCosta College in Oceanside, California. She has learned about best practices in distance learning and designed two new online Italian courses for the college. Teaching online has allowed her the freedom to explore her passion for dance. She has been in three dance theater pieces, including one called The People’s Opera House where she performed in Italian as an exuberant lyricist. She is also taking courses in dance/movement therapy. 


Peter De Costa was reappointed after a third year review in 2016 and just finished his fourth year at Michigan State University. He continues to play an active role in professional organizations and is pleased that his dissertation-based monograph was published last June. He is excited about coming onboard as the new co-editor of TESOL Quarterly. His term as editor begins in January 2018. He hopes to work on the yard of his new home in East Lansing this summer, in between his regular summer trip to Singapore.


Atsushi Hasegawa has been enjoying his third year at the University of Kentucky. He is currently serving as President of the Kentucky Association of Japanese Language Teachers (KAJLT). In the past summer, he was awarded a research fellowship from the Japan Foundation and spent two months in Osaka to conduct fieldwork for his new project “Language Lives of Short-Term Study Abroad Sojourners in Japan: Language Socialization Perspective.” He is planning to submit a book proposal based on this research. His article in an edited volume on interactional competence will be published soon.


Akira Kondo finished his Ph.D. in August, 2016. He now works as a Language Engineer at in Cambridge, MA. He admits that his job title ‘Language Engineer’ is confusing (just like when you explain to someone what ‘Second Language Acquisition’ is). Specifically he works on the Applied Modeling and DataScience team to make Amazon Alexa smarter every day. He writes, “if you’re familiar with Alexa and have one, you know that Alexa is becoming smarter. I REALLY enjoy working at Amazon every single day. At the same time I miss being in school and doing my own research. Last but not least, I want to say that my advisor Maggie Hawkins has had quite an impact on what I am today. If you happen to have her as your advisor, consider you’re lucky. Maggie, I can’t wait to hang out with you.”


Margaret Merrill is enjoying her job as an instructional designer and educational technologist in Academic Technology Services at the University of California, Davis. Her team consults with faculty from all across campus about how to address instructional/pedagogical challenges they face in their teaching. Her biggest projects include the creation of fully online courses for a couple of popular courses and running a small pilot of interactive video quizzing software. Margaret reports loving what Californians call “winter” and being closer to family.


Chiharu Shima is currently working as an assistant professor of Japanese at Akita International University (AIU).  AIU has received Top Global University Funding from the Government of Japan for the period of 2014-2025, and Chiharu is involved in one of the four pillars of the project entitled “24-hour liberal arts education”. The initiative aims to enhance dormitory life on campus by organizing some of the dormitories around academic, cultural and career-oriented themes. Chiharu says of the project, “it reminds me of good memories of the Japanese language house at UW-Madison where I served as a graduate coordinator and organized many cultural events.”  


Sandra Elena Terra began a new position fall 2016 as an Assistant Professor of Spanish at Linfield College in McMinnville, Oregon. As part of her research agenda, she is collaborating with our very own SLA director, Cathy Stafford, on a project on Spanish-English bilinguals in the Midwest; they presented this paper in April at the conference for Spanish in the US. Beyond that, she has attended several conferences this year and is piloting a project on heritage language speakers and service learning in her community.  Lastly, Sandra is the member of the COFTL board and is chairing and hosting a conference at Linfield College this march. In personal news, she is really enjoying small town living and not having to commute. This gives her more time to enjoy her toddler’s bilingual language development!


Robin Worth is now a Principal Investigator at the Wisconsin Center for Education Research in the Wisconsin Evaluation Collaborative.