Honors Program Scholarship recipient Maria Vera-Alvarez received a high honor over spring break when she was one of only 13 students from seven different colleges across the U.S. to be chosen to travel to Micronesia and Mexico this summer to work on endangered language revitalization projects. This grant was awarded by the National Science Foundation to Dr. K. David Harrison at Swarthmore College and Professor Brook Lillehaugen from Haverford College, both in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The grant is titled “Building digital tools to support endangered languages and preserve environmental knowledge in Mexico, Micronesia, and Navajo Nation” and is a summer linguistics field school for aspiring students. Vera-Alvarez and her peers will study for a couple weeks at Haverford College before joining the Zapotec-language team in Oaxaca, Mexico, under the direction of Lillehaugen.
Vera-Alvarez had the unique opportunity to meet Harrison when he visited the Loudoun Campus 2014 to show his film “The Linguists.” He discussed his lifelong work with the Living Tongues Institute for endangered languages. Harrison is also the author of several books on dying languages and founder of the Living Tongues Institute.
Originally from Paraguay, Vera-Alvarez attends the Loudoun and Manassas campuses and is involved with two NOVA Honors Study Abroad courses (London SUM14 and Ireland SUM15). She will graduate from NOVA and from the Honors Program in May 2015 with an associate degree in science. She plans to transfer to Virginia Commonwealth University and pursue a career in pediatrics.
Honors advisors and instructors Stacy Rice, Paul Fitzgerald and Rebecca Hayes have helped mentor Vera-Alvarez and wrote letters of recommendation toward this prestigious scholarship.