Aishah Cader has always thought about language and how it is used.
But her interest really sparked while learning about French philosopher Jacques Derrida's theory of deconstruction with Sonja Nikkila, lecturer in the Department of English.
With the help of her professor, Cader was able to further dissect the theory and apply it to her own work –– she then took her knowledge to an international stage for the first time.
“It was the highlight of my undergraduate career,” says Cader, a fifth-year English and Human Biology student. “I’m graduating and in all of my experiences to draw from, this one was definitely the best.”
On the surface, Derrida’s theory of deconstruction analyzes systems of writing. He considers the effectiveness of language as a communication tool when language struggles to describe things that are absent.
Cader used Derrida’s theory to investigate a mechanism that is commonly used to bridge gaps in communication: the metaphor. Specifically, Cader considered what the incompetency of an aid like the metaphor in a situation that’s difficult to characterize, such as being in love, suggests about communication systems overall.
“It’s a really good presenting experience when you get to a conference and the audience is asking a lot of questions,” she says.
It was also her first time traveling to the U.S.
Exploring the city, Cader’s hotel was on the Mississippi River –– she learned about the history of expansion, visited pre-Civil War courthouses and, as a true English student, took pictures in front of a Shakespeare statue with two other classmates.
She says being able to not only travel, but present research on an international stage without worrying about debt has a great effect on “shifting your academic framework.”
“I can say I’ve presented research at the international level at the undergraduate stage and that’s not something everyone can say they’ve done,” Cader says. “Apply for the fund, it makes such a big difference afterwards.”