Roslyn Blyn-LaDrew strongly believes that the more languages a person knows, the better they understand other people and cultures. She experienced this first hand as a child, when she lived in India for a year and was first introduced to Hindi. Knowing the language really helped her feel connected; she knew she had to pursue it further. Then, when Dr. Blyn-LaDrew was a bit older, Irish folktales and Irish music caught her eye. She was intrigued by the sense of magic and supernatural in the stories. Dr. Blyn-LaDrew came to realize that not everyone in Ireland speaks Irish, however, and that an understanding of the original language was necessary to really get the material. She began studying Celtic languages at 17 years old, and hasn’t looked back since.
In 1990, Dr. Blyn-LaDrew brought her expertise to the University of Pennsylvania. She feels that teaching Irish studies was a way to remain involved in a language that doesn’t have many modern speakers. Her expertise in Irish Gaelic helped her thrive in the school’s Penn Language Center, where she remains to this day. Her main goal is to nurture her students’ proficiency in the language.
Dr. Blyn-LaDrew prepared for her endeavors by earning a PhD from the University of Pennsylvania in 1995 and a Bachelor of Arts from Harvard University. She then joined prominent organizations like the American Conference of Irish Studies and the North American Association of Celtic Language Teachers. She served the latter as president from 2001 to 2002. One of the things that helped her most, however, was studying in Ireland, Wales, Scotland, and Newfoundland. It gave her education a much more personal touch.
When Dr. Blyn-LaDrew isn’t in the classroom, she enjoys writing and music. She is the co-author of “Colloquial Irish,” the translator of “Clóicín Dearg,” and a columnist for The Irish Edition. She also contributes articles to professional journals, like the Journal of Celtic Language Learning and Folklore Forum, and is a professional blogger through Transparent Language.
In recognition of her efforts, Dr. Blyn-LaDrew was honored with an award, The Irish Education 100, from The Irish Consulate in 2014 and a travel grant, Daltai na Gaeilge, in 2000. Her achievements were highlighted in seven editions of Who’s Who in America and one of Who’s Who of American Women.