French has been entirely fundamental in my career plans. For the language skills themselves, which have proven to be absolutely necessary, but even more importantly because my experience through the French Program at NMU gave me the opportunity to discover my true passion. I am currently a Ph.D. candidate (ABD) in Art History at the University of Texas – Austin. In this particular area, French has been a key element in my graduate work, allowing me to read my sources, such as texts and other printed media in various archives. In my field, and in many other disciplines, knowledge of two languages beyond English – is required at the Ph.D. level. Many of my colleagues spend extra years in graduate school just to complete language requirements. However, having taken French, among other languages, while at NMU, I was able to get through my graduate coursework in the minimum amount of time.
I spent the academic year 2006-07 in Orléans, France, as part of the paid Teacher Assistantship program in France, about which I learned through the French Program at NMU. As a Teacher Assistant, I taught English at a French lycée (high school). I was responsible for teaching a few classes every week. The rest of my work was devoted to independent study courses, which I coordinated with my supervising professor, Dr. Nell Kupper. Actually living in the country, receiving a stipend, and being rather more on my own than in a study abroad program was perhaps the most formative, and enjoyable experience of my life. I also developed friendships with people from France, England, and Germany, with whom I traveled quite a bit. We went to Paris often, and even made an excursion to Nice for one week. And it was while in France that I discovered my passion for Art History. I will never forget being in the Musée du Louvre with my friends while living in France, and playing the tour guide to our little group. As I spoke to them in front of the Mona Lisa, and several other visitors turned to pay attention to what I was saying, I knew that that was what I wanted to do with my life; study art and teach about its history. I can say without a doubt that the French Program at NMU provided one of the main foundations from which I have been able to achieve all that I have so far.