Shanaya Stephenson ’19

Shanaya Stephenson WhyIMajored

I chose to major in cognitive science on the computer science concentration and minor in linguistics. When I chose this major, I wanted to learn about the language-y parts of the brain and design experiments. Now I see that there's a philosophical importance to studying the mind; this discipline can lead to so much self-discovery and a much deeper, more nuanced understanding of humanity. I've learned about language, memory, dreams, hallucinations, the origins of human thought and consciousness, how modern technology interacts with the mind, and how to learn and teach efficiently. In addition to this, there is a never ending fountain of interesting topics to research and think about.

I love how well this major translates to career prospects in technology. I am interested in a career in artificial intelligence and IT, so having the computer science concentration, which allows me to study a highly sought after skill while I get an incredible theoretical background from top-notch professors is really helpful in getting me to that goal.

I am going to embark on a SURP to Guatemala this upcoming summer to study if sexism and other forms of bias manifest in Kaqchikel, an indigenous Mayan language. I will also be interviewing indigenous women about their experiences with linguistic bias and how it effects their perceptions of self, and other community of women. I have done research in the past about sexism in language; I did a corpus study of the US 2016 primary election debates, and found that male Republican candidates, when referring to their fellow candidates, almost never used Secretary Hilary Clinton's title, but found it in them to use Senator Bernie Sanders' title.