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Paul Hopper (BA Hons German 1962)


After graduation, I went to the United States in order to study linguistics. I did a PhD in linguistics at the University of Texas at Austin. After several other academic positions, I became the Paul Mellon Distinguished Professor of Humanities at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh. I have written books and articles on general and Germanic linguistics.

Why did you choose to study at the University of Reading?

It was at the time the only university in Britain that offered a full year's study in Germany in addition to the normal three years of the undergraduate course. Also, Reading offered me a scholarship (the Palmer Scholarship in Arts), which came with a State Scholarship attached.

What was the best bit about living and studying in Reading?

I enjoyed the social and "student" life in St Pat's. but also received a first rate education in my field of Germanic languages.

What top tips would you give to students who are beginning their studies?

Seek out the best professors, no matter where they are. You'll never regret it.

What are you up to now? How did you get there?

I have recently retired from my teaching and research position at Carnegie Mellon. How did I get there? Well, I climbed the academic ladder in the usual way, by gaining a reputation as a teacher and by making important contributions to my field.

How has the University of Reading and the Careers Centre helped in your chosen career path?

It didn't really exist, I don't believe, when I was there in the early sixties.

What are your top tips for students graduating this year? What should they be doing to secure the job they want?

Network tirelessly and imaginatively. Stay in touch with your fellow students. Be flexible about where you live.

What does the University mean to you and what is your favourite memory?

My years at Reading were happy ones. My memories include being editor of 'Shell' (the campus newspaper). I loved the formal dances and especially the Christmas festival 'Jantaculum' (what a shame it no longer exists). Teas on the lawn at Wessex. The Head of the River Race and Ball. Rag Day. Guy Fawkes Night.

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