by Claire Miller
When Lori Fredricks (M.A. ’03, Ph.D. ’09) began volunteering with the International Refugee Committee in Atlanta, she was assigned to help an Atlanta-area Iranian family learn the English language.
Fredricks, who worked as an artist for a publishing company, spent countless hours getting to know the family, who also taught her Farsi and gave her a glimpse into Iranian culture.
This experience, combined with her experience teaching basic English classes to bilingual and multilingual students in Atlanta, inspired Fredricks to build on her master’s degree in applied linguistics and apply to the College of Education’s Language and Literacy Education program.
“I wanted to learn more about how to understand, critically analyze and design research in my field while working with diverse populations of students in and around Atlanta,” she said.
While at Georgia State, Fredricks worked in Tajikistan as an English Language Fellow on a Fulbright grant, teaching pre-service teachers and starting several reading clubs – an experience that informed her dissertation on cultural and linguistic diversity.
“I explored how, through reading and discussing literature with a critical lens, my students and I were able to tackle difficult topics that were relevant to their lives,” she said. “Through relating to and critiquing characters, authors and themes in texts, we were able to more deeply discuss issues that mattered to students – things like changing political and economic systems in Tajikistan, how people from diverse yet related backgrounds can peacefully coexist and the current challenges for young men and women seeking employment and building families.”
Upon graduating, Fredricks became an assistant professor of applied linguistics at the American University in Cairo, Egypt. She teaches courses on second language acquisition, pragmatics, discourse analysis and second language reading and writing.
Her three years at the American University have given her the opportunity to conduct research on graduate students taking courses on teaching English to speakers of other languages, and analyzing their discussions in class and in online forums.
Fredricks credits her time in the College of Education for laying the foundation for her successful ventures working with diverse groups of people.
“I have always felt that Georgia State University takes its commitment to diversity seriously,” she said. “As an extension of this, College of Education graduate students work with faculty, peers and learners from many different cultural, religious and linguistic backgrounds and as a result they receive an education that prepares them for working in an increasingly complex world.”
This story was originally published in the Fall 2012 issue of the College of Education's Milestones magazine.