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Adelaida Graham, graduates this summer from Ulster University with a BSc Hons in Language and Linguistics.

Originally from the Philippines, Adelaida now lives in Tandragee with her family. Adelaida has always been passionate about languages but she had some reservations about whether or not university was the right choice for her.

“Initially I was unsure about whether to re-enter education, however being a mature student has been one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life. Not only have I met fellow likeminded mature students, but I’ve also interacted and became friendly with younger students too. Being a mature student, the fact that I was accepted to the programme and able to complete the course during the pandemic to me is incredible.”

Adelaida juggled family life, working and her study as a non-native English speaker, to complete her degree and graduate during the pandemic. This is testament to the hard work and passion Adelaida has towards her degree. Adelaida credits her love for languages in helping her to keep going when things got tough, and she found it very fulfilling to be able to push through and complete her degree.

She commented,

“How did I manage to juggle study, work, and family life? My interests in languages and cultures kept me going and helped me to push through when things got tough. At the start, getting back to reading textbooks, writing assignments, and studying for exams was a hard adjustment, but I started to get into the way of it.

"There was a time that I did consider giving up, particularly whenever my husband was  ill and when I struggled with overwhelming coursework, but the support my husband and family gave me was amazing.  They are my inspiration.   Also, my friends, work colleagues,  classmates, the lecturers and librarians have all been incredibly supportive throughout this journey.”

Adelaida’s personal experience of multilingualism inspired her dissertation which focused on the parental attitudes towards multilingualism in Northern Ireland. The project focused on how ethnic minority languages or heritage languages are maintained in Northern Ireland. Adelaida did this by exploring the relationship between the parents’ perception and their expectation to maintain heritage language.

“I had the privilege of being brought up in a home where two different dialects are spoken. As a child, it fascinated me to have two parents speaking different languages and I often wondered why my father’s dialect was different to my mother’s. In the Philippines there are over 100 languages spoken by the population and both Filipino and English are taught in school. This early experience is my motivation of wanting to know more about the relationships between language and culture.

“The dissertation project was inspired by a number of studies on multilingualism conducted in different parts of the world. Northern Ireland is a relatively new home for a diverse range of multilingual speakers, which made it perfect for me to investigate how ethnic minority languages are preserved here in Northern Ireland.”