Our class of 2021 really are something to shout about. They’ve overcome challenges, helped others, grasped opportunities and developed their skills, showing their Essex Spirit in so many ways. And they’ve done it all during a pandemic when student life has been changed beyond recognition. We couldn’t be prouder of them so we’re telling their stories.
Wed 14 Jul 21
Yoana Dancheva is leaving a lasting legacy in the Department of Language and Linguistics where she’s helped shape courses and contributed to research projects.
Yoana, who is graduating with a BA Language Studies and Linguistics, was drawn to Essex because of the course structure: “There aren‘t a lot of universities where you can study languages while doing linguistics,“ she said.
Even with Covid-19, Yoana says her experience in the Department has been positive and praised lecturers for creating “a wonderful classroom atmosphere regardless of it being online."
She’s played a role in ensuring students continue to have positive experiences too.
In her second and third years Yoana volunteered as a Student Rep, collecting feedback on modules from fellow students and presenting that feedback at Student Voice Groups. She also volunteered as a Peer Mentor, providing advice and support to first-year students.
“The most enjoyable part has been working with people from the Department. I had the opportunity to discuss specific aspects of the student experience with my fellow Reps and the staff. Working with all these wonderful people has been amazing and I’ll be forever grateful for the opportunity to volunteer in this position,“ she said.
"The issues surrounding colonisation need to be discussed and challenged. I believe this activity not only encouraged me to question my experiences, but also to think critically about everything that we have been exposed to as scholars."
Yoana also played a part in helping academics in the Department develop practical ways to decolonise the curriculum. She said it “improved my understanding of colonisation and its negative impact on the world.“
“The issues surrounding colonisation need to be discussed and challenged. I believe this activity not only encouraged me to question my experiences, but also to think critically about everything that we have been exposed to as scholars,“ she added.
Whilst at Essex Yoana also took the opportunity to develop her research skills, something she hopes will help her future career as a researcher.
She worked with Professor Monika Schmid on language acquisition and attrition projects, gaining skills in using different software programmes. Her work coding transcribed texts in German also helped her develop her own foreign language skills.
Despite having to juggle research work with her studies, Yoana found the experience rewarding: “I find the whole process of creating a plan for research and then conducting research so fascinating. It was extremely interesting and helped me figure out what I want to do in the future.“
Yoana is hoping to complete a Masters in linguistics after leaving Essex.