Linguistic PhD candidate Sean Nonnenmacher’s summer immersive fellowship changed the direction of his dissertation and produced an oral history archive for his partner organization. In summer 2020, Sean drew on his linguistic training to create The StoryBank Project with GLSEN Phoenix, an education non-profit that works to ensure K-12 schools are safe and affirming environments for LGBTQ students. Sean designed and conducted interviews for StoryBank, a digital repository of narratives from individuals connected to the chapter’s work. As a result of his experience, his dissertation became a digital, organization-based ethnography, instead of an in-person, school-based linguistic ethnography. In turn, GLSEN Phoenix gained an archive of stories to inspire potential volunteers and donors, validate their programs, and celebrate the strength of their community members.
Read his reflections and check out more Student Spotlights.