Partnerships for International Research and Education (PIRE)
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Caden Vitti

Liberal Arts Major: Spanish
Other Major: Energy Engineering
Minor: Environmental Engineering
Hometown: Exeter, New Hampshire
Experience Time: Summer 2022

Give us a brief summary of your experience?

I conducted sociolinguistic research on Spanish-English bilinguals to understand how to use code-switching (alternating between both languages in a single sentence) to better understand the grammatical implications of nonbinary pronouns (i.e they/them) in singular referential contexts. With this research, I am hopeful to help bridge the gap between both languages as they explore language outside of the gender binary, which will lead to a more understanding and inclusive environment for all.

How did this experience impact you academically?

This experience provided me with technical research skills like interpersonal communication, coding/data analysis, problem solving, etc. that I plan to bring with me to the classroom and to my future career. I feel much more well-rounded in my pursuit of personal and educational experiences as I try to make the most of my time at Penn State. While the majority of my time is spent in the engineering field, having the opportunity to direct time and energy towards language and linguistic studies as they relate to social justice was refreshing and exciting!

"This experience has provided me with the enthusiasm to seek out cultures and values different from my own in order to strengthen my social competencies and make engineering decisions based on culminated perspectives as opposed to those from my point of view."

How will this experience impact your career goals?

This experience has provided me with the enthusiasm to seek out cultures and values different from my own in order to strengthen my social competencies and make engineering decisions based on culminated perspectives as opposed to those from my point of view. With this increased skill, I hope to enter into a career where I apply engineering practices to social justice applications in manners that respect, listen to, and support the communities at hand.

How has the College of the Liberal Arts helped you to find and/or succeed in this experience (e.g., adviser, faculty, staff, enrichment funds, etc.)?

The staff in the College of the Liberal Arts, specifically in the Department of Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese have provided me with classroom and laboratory experiences that have strengthened my skills as a student, researcher, and traveler. I am grateful for the endless support that the staff and faculty provide to help their students succeed and thrive in their individualized paths.

For more information on research for Liberal Arts students, visit our website.

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