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Alumni News | Magdalyne Akiding plans to bring kindness, fun activities to her classroom

Published: December 20, 2021 Author: Staff reports

Ohio University alumna Magdalyne Akiding came to Athens as an international student to earn a master's degree in linguistics. She quickly made new friends, explored the hills of Southeastern Ohio, and learned that she wanted to bring kindness and enjoyable lessons to her classroom.

She earned a master’s degree in applied linguistics from the College of Arts and Sciences at Ohio University in 2017, along with a certificate in teaching English as a second language. She then headed to Michigan State University, defending her dissertation in December 2021 and graduating with a Ph.D. in Second Language Studies.

"I am currently a lecturer of Swahili at Howard University in Washington, D.C., and I accepted the position in August 2021 while in the final stages of writing my dissertation," Akiding said. "I now live in Maryland with my husband and our son."

Q&A with Magdalyne Akiding

Q: Who were your favorite professors and how did they make an impact on your life? 

A: All my professors at OHIO were wonderful, and I took various life lessons from each of them. Dr. Michelle O’Malley, who was also my academic adviser, was my favorite professor. She was very kind and friendly, which made her easy to talk to. I also loved how she conducted her classes. I remember how she engaged us in fun activities in our phonetics and phonology course, which made learning very enjoyable. As a professor now, I strive to show the same level of kindness to my students — and to make lessons enjoyable to them. I understand how important both aspects are in increasing learners’ motivation in the classroom.

Q: Do you still keep in touch with any of your faculty?

A: Yes. I have been in touch with Dr. David Bell, Dr. Hiroyuki Oshita, and Dr. Dawn Bikowski, either formally via email or through social media. It feels great getting in touch with my former professors occasionally. I get to know how they are doing, and I update them on my progress as well. For instance, I know that Dr. Bikowski is now having a wonderful time in California! (Bikowski is now associate professor at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center in Monterey, Calif.) I received congratulatory messages from her and Dr. Oshita after I successfully defended my dissertation.

Q: What was your ah-ha moment at OHIO — that point where you said to yourself, “I’ve got this!”? 

A: It was during my introduction to graduate writing course with Dr. Joe Lee in the first semester of my master’s program. He assigned us a task to critique a research paper, and I was at a loss of what to do because I had never critiqued a paper before. I had several feedback sessions with Dr. Lee, and by the time I submitted that assignment, I felt like, “I got this!” I completed the course feeling more confident about my ability to write graduate level papers.

Q:  What was the hardest hill you had to climb (not counting Jeff Hill) at OHIO? And how did you overcome challenges or obstacles in your path?

A: My biggest challenge was adjusting to life in the United States. The American culture was different. Things moved a lot faster, and I felt like I was struggling a little to catch up, especially during the first semester. There was a lot to learn, including getting used to the American accent. Things got better as I made new friends and attended social events. The events organized by the International Students and Faculty Services (ISFS) office helped a lot, too. I felt well settled by the end of my first semester.

Q: What are your favorite OHIO memories?

A: I have so many fond memories of Ohio University. The campus itself is beautiful! I enjoyed taking walks along the bike path by Hocking River, sitting under the Sakura trees near the Convocation Center when they blossomed in the spring, taking pictures at Emeriti Park, and studying in Baker University Center. Oh! And Court Street! I will never forget the huge Halloween parties that happened there. What I loved most about Court Street were the glorious Christmas decorations every year.

Other things that I enjoyed doing while at OHIO were driving around Athens to see its beautiful landscape, crossing over to West Virginia to go shopping, and going out for movie nights on weekends at Athena Grand or Movies 10 (Fun Barn).

Q: What’s the one thing you would tell a new OHIO student not to miss?

A: New students should not miss exploring the beauty of the campus and its surrounding areas. Be it having picnics at the lakes nearby, visiting the Old Man’s Cave, or going for bike rides along the beautiful bike paths, I found it to be very refreshing and reenergizing. Engaging in those experiences with friends not only added so much fun to life, but also curbed homesickness for me as an international student by quickening the pace of adjusting to the new culture. I believe that had a positive impact on my academics as well.