Student Story

Marty Beth Sprong image

Mary Beth Spang

Bachelor of Philosophy, Linguistics
Bachelor of Arts, English and Spanish

How did you learn about the B Phil program?

I learned about the B Phil program from one of my professors during my freshman year. I took an introduction to linguistics course in my first semester and quickly decided that I wanted to continue taking linguistics courses. My professor shared that while a ‘typical’ major in linguistics did not exist, there was another way that I could continue taking these courses and create a personalized curriculum to earn my degree. She connected me to an advisor who had worked with B Phil students to discuss the process.

How did you choose your capstone project?

I was majoring in Spanish along with completing the B Phil program, so my adviser and I decided that a Spanish linguistics lab would be a good fit.  My advisor helped me to find a lab, a professor, and a research topic in the Center for Language Science. Working in this lab as a research assistant helped me to meet the incredibly wonderful Spanish linguistics faculty at Penn State, while learning from graduate students about their development of research interests, ‘running’ participants, and academic literature within the field of Spanish linguistics. The faculty involved with the Center for Language Science were extremely supportive and motivated me to reach out to a professor, Dr. John Lipski, whose sociolinguistic field research in Colombia fascinated me. I was able to develop my capstone project around the previous research that he and a few other sociolinguists had conducted in this area. I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to travel with Dr. Lipski and our other lab mates to carry out my project, and to have worked in that same lab throughout my senior year to complete the project.

What do you do now?

I work in Penn State’s Division of Development and Alumni Relations as a major gifts officer for the College of Education. In this role, I work with alumni and friends of the College of Education to strengthen their relationship to Penn State, while also securing significant philanthropic support for students and faculty. The B Phil program’s requirement to complete a capstone project pushed me to create a long-term goal and helped me to develop many skills that I use in my job today, such as writing, travel planning, researching, and analyzing data.