UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — At Penn State's College of the Liberal Arts commencement ceremony on May 4, Seckin Kara will represent the Department of Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese as their student marshal. Kara will graduate with a bachelor of arts degree in Spanish and a bachelor of science degree in mathematics, as well as a minor in linguistics. They will be escorted by Matthew Thomas Carlson, assistant professor of Spanish.
While at Penn State, Kara served as a research assistant for the Center for Language Science and as a lab consultant at Student Technology Services. They also provided tutoring in Spanish through Penn State Learning.
Kara received a National Science Foundation (NSF) Pire grant that allowed them to complete research abroad in Tarragona, Spain for eight weeks during the summer of 2016. Kara studied the effects of how a first languages writing system affects a person's learning of a new languages writing system.
“My Spanish major helped me improve my writing ability and my ability to analyze written material, specifically material slightly above my normal comprehension level. It also led to my study abroad and research experiences that helped me gain confidence and independence,” said Kara. “Being able to work on independent research in a foreign country made me take responsibility for a project of my own in a challenging context, which is really useful in the software field.”
After graduation, Kara will start a job in the software engineering field at Lockheed Martin. In addition to working, they plan on attending graduate school part time, likely starting next year. Kara is deciding whether they would like to earn a master’s degree in computer science or computational linguistics.
To current students, Kara has some advice on how they gained so much real-world experience.
“Get involved with research, programs, or clubs in your interest areas as early as you can,” said Kara. “They're really how you get the most out of your major because you can relate what you've learned in class to the material you work on outside of class.”
This is the 12th in a series of stories on the 22 student marshals representing the College of the Liberal Arts at the spring 2019 commencement ceremony.