She made it! UAlberta Chinese international student receives Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship

$150K award allows Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine's Youran Lin to further research in speech development in bilingual children

Laurie Wang - 16 May 2019

When Youran Lin found out she received a 2019 Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship, the first person she told was her supervisor, Karen Pollock.

"You made it!" the chair of the University of Alberta's Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders exclaimed to her with a big smile.

When Lin arrived in Edmonton just nine months ago from Harbin, China, she never would have thought she'd receive such a prestigious award from the Government of Canada, and be the first Vanier scholar in the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine.

"At the time, I was an intimidated girl who had nothing but two suitcases, $1000 and an adventurous spirit," Lin, 26, says.

Valued at $50,000 a year for three years, the Vanier scholarship program supports young researchers who produce discoveries and innovations that help build a strong future for Canada. Lin is one of only four U of A graduate students who received the Vanier this year.

A student in the combined MSc Speech-Language Pathology/PhD Rehabilitation Science program at U of A's Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine, Lin is studying speech development in bilingual children and the Chinese language, and speech in multilingual and multicultural contexts.

"I want to translate the knowledge and practice of speech-language pathology in a linguistically and culturally appropriate manner for Chinese-speaking communities across Canada and all over the world."

A graduate of Peking University in Beijing, China, Lin has a BA and MA in Linguistics, and chose to come to the University of Alberta for its SLP program, one of the largest programs in Canada.

"I really enjoy the SLP program. It is intense and sometimes stressful, but I feel very productive and progressive in it. If my younger peers in China want to know more about U of A and its SLP program, I would say, 'you should come and see!'" she smiles.

Lin is currently focused on data collection for her PhD study, and she has enjoyed spending time with Chinese immigrant families with children in the Chinese-English bilingual program in Edmonton schools as part of her research.

"I am looking at developmental patterns of sound and pronunciation, and their contribution to listeners' perception of non-native speech," Lin explains. "Simply put, I am studying the speech development of children enrolled in the Chinese-English bilingual program in Alberta and its implications on learning a second language.

Lin believes in living life in the moment. Though she doesn't actually plan too much for the future, she hopes to become a clinician-researcher someday and continue to do research that makes a clinical impact.

"As an international student, I am interested in introducing SLP to communities that speak languages other than English," she says. "The non-English communities in Canada and around the world need SLPs who understand their language and culture, and I believe the field of SLP can develop even better with researchers and practitioners having different language backgrounds. I understand that it should be a two-way effort, and am trying to increase the awareness of this issue in both our program and among Chinese students."

In the meantime, Lin continues to enjoy her training in graduate studies training in the combined MSc SLP/PhD program in Edmonton and looks forward to a-hopefully-warm spring.

"It's cold here, and winter can come back at any time!" she laughs. "U of A is definitely an interesting place. Geese walk boldly on the ground, bunnies fight with each other by your window, and squirrels would yell at you from the tree. I also made so many friends in the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine and across U of A. It's really nice to have them when I am away from home."