A Passion for Languages Leads to Degree in Russian

A Passion for Languages Leads to Degree in Russian

When Keelyn O’Brien first came to MSU, she was a microbiology student, intent on pursuing a career in virology and vaccine development, but later found a new career path in the Department of Linguistics and Germanic, Slavic, Asian, and African Languages where she discovered her passion for language.

“For two and a half years, I was a determined science student who took Russian for fun,” O’Brien said. “But my Russian classes were the only ones that I was excited to go to.”

Her junior year, O’Brien switched her major to Russian with minors in Linguistics and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) and this month she earned her bachelor’s degree and looks forward to graduate school.

O'Brien_WorldCup.JPG
Keelyn O’Brien watching the World Cup in Russia during her study abroad in 2018.

A highlight of her undergraduate education has been the three study abroad trip she completed, including two trips to Russia and one to Iceland. Her most recent study abroad was with the Middlebury Davis’ School of Russian, which was recommended by MSU Professor of Russian Jason Merrill.

“Studying abroad has given me context to my own life and goals. These experiences helped me to grow and learn my own resilience. Moving forward, I know that I can find creative solutions when neither person can understand one another.”

Keelyn O’Brien

“Studying abroad has given me context to my own life and goals,” O’Brien said. “These experiences helped me to grow and learn my own resilience. Moving forward, I know that I can find creative solutions when neither person can understand one another. While difficult, these experiences were incredibly enriching.”

O’Brien has been admitted to MSU’s TESOL graduate program where she will work towards her goal of building a career that intersects both English and Russian.

IMG_9568.JPG
Keelyn O’Brien in Russia during her study abroad in 2018.

“I’ve always known that I was headed to graduate school of some kind, but it wasn’t until I began taking TESOL classes at the undergraduate level that I looked to English education as a real path forward for myself,” she said. “My long-term goals are still hazy, but if I could specialize in foreign language education with Russian, I would be happy.”

“The faculty and advisors have guided me on programs, scholarships, and career opportunities that I would not have gotten elsewhere. Knowing that I have several incredibly intelligent people who believe in me and my future is really encouraging.”

Keelyn O’Brien

As she looks back on her undergraduate education, O’Brien is thankful to the Department of Linguistics and Germanic, Slavic, Asian, and African Languages and the College of Arts & Letters for their support in shaping her life as a student and as a professional.

“They have shown me options for my career that I would not have imagined,” she said. “The faculty and advisors have guided me on programs, scholarships, and career opportunities that I would not have gotten elsewhere. Knowing that I have several incredibly intelligent people who believe in me and my future is really encouraging.”