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This is the First Black Woman to earn a Ph.D. in Linguistics From Her University

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by Clarissa Brooks

Adrienne Washington is on fire.

Washington just graduated from the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences with her Ph.D on May 1st. Washington is the very first African American to graduate from the University of Pittsburgh with a Ph.D. degree in linguistics.

Before completing her degree at University of Pittsburgh, Washington graduated from Hampton University in 2007. Her path to a doctorate continued with a Masters in linguistics at the University of Pittsburgh in 2010.



Washington’s research focuses on the redevelopment of the Yoruba language in Northeastern Brazil. Her focus on sociolinguistics was a field that made sense for her. “I have enjoyed exploring the Afro-Latin interface since my undergraduate days of studying Spanish at Hampton University, so this topic of the Yoruba language in northeastern Brazil was right in line with my research interests.”

However, Washington didn’t do this alone. She credits her family and friends with helping her through the Ph.D program. Washington calls them “an awesome village that cheered me on”.

“I think it’s extremely important for people of color to engage in linguistics research and teaching, in general, in order to shape the production and dissemination of that branch of knowledge.” Said Washington to the AtlantaBlackStar recently.

Post-graduation Washington is hoping to jump into the world of academia and study the ways in which African American communities use the Yoruba language in society.

Photo Courtesy of Adrienne Washington




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