Dr. Tiffany Kershner will tell you she is a matchmaker for extraordinary funding opportunities. As associate director of fellowships in the Hicks Honors College, Kershner was hired in February 2019 to help launch and coordinate a fellowship effort on campus. She believes there are many outstanding UNF students who would be competitive for these awards, yet don’t know they are available.
Her job, then, is to inform undergraduate and graduate students, as well as alumni, about available fellowships and help guide them in completing applications. As part of that process, she reviews and critiques application essays and stages mock interviews for those selected for semifinal and final interviews.
Some of these fellowships, also referred to as scholarships or grants, provide funding for specific opportunities in the U.S. and abroad, while others include advanced academic research, graduate study and study abroad. Examples include the Rhodes Scholarship, Goldwater Scholarship, Truman Scholarship and the Fulbright Student Grant Program.
Get to Know Dr. Tiffany Kershner
What’s the most rewarding academic experience you’ve had at UNF in or out of the classroom?
Each time a student submits an application for a national award is a rewarding academic experience. Fellowship applications take a lot of time and dedication and there is so much benefit for the student in just the process of writing the essays, reflecting on their education and experiences, and trying to articulate their passions in a personal narrative. When a student has done this, regardless of the outcome of the competition, it is a win-win for both the institution and the student.
What courses do you teach?
I will be teaching an honors seminar called Words through Space and Time, which examines how words are formed in the brain and also how words encode human experience.
What research are you doing?
As a linguistic anthropologist and descriptive field linguist, I am particularly interested in the area of cultural semantics and pragmatics, with a focus on the Bantu languages of Southern and Eastern Africa. My primary work is in the theoretical areas of verb classification, tense, aspect and time.
What’s one thing in your field of study that people might not know?
We still do not know how many distinct languages there are in the world. However, despite not having an accurate count, we do know the number of languages is steadily declining. This is of concern not only for linguists and anthropologists but more importantly for speakers of the languages in decline. When a language dies, so does the culture.
Describe your teaching style. Do you like to integrate tech, or are you more comfortable with a lecture-style classroom?
My classes involve a little bit of lecture followed by a lot of discussion and “hands-on” activities. In linguistics, you want students to learn how to work with real language data and that requires fieldwork. In a majority of my classes, students collect real live data. Although interviewing strangers can be stressful at first, students adapt quickly and often learn some really interesting things about language.
What advice would you give a student who is about to graduate?
There are several fellowship opportunities available for recent graduates. Even after you graduate, don’t be a stranger. Contact me. I love to work with alumni!