Photos and Statements from Previous French Students

Alumni Speak

Raven Mitchell


Raven Mitchell

Beginning in 2015, I decided to pursue French out of interest in the culture and thrill of learning to communicating in a new way. I would have never imagined that I would have the opportunity to put my French skills to the test. (more)

Karl Mercer III

August 2005 - May 2009

Karl Mercer III at a recent press interview with Colima state governor

I am very thankful to have a BA in French from NMU because it has been essential to my personal success and professional achievement.  Advanced language proficiency is absolutely vital to my current line of work as a diplomat with the U.S. Department of State. (more)

Aino Tikkanen

2013 - 2016

Aino Tikkanen

My studies in the French Program at NMU have helped me on the job market, and are instrumental in my continued studies at my home in Finland, and in my future career plans.  My strong language skills as well as cultural awareness, integral to every French classroom at NMU, were definitely an asset when I applied and was offered a position as a Delivery Manager for an IT consultant broker at my home in Finland. (more)

Frank Mumford 

2004 - 2008

Frank Mumford and family

In my work as Major Gifts Officer for United Way, I need to understand what people value and care about.  One's own culture is one's unique identity. Understanding the culture of the people you encounter helps you adapt and better relate to them. My experience in the French classroom encouraged me to continue to engage and learn more about other cultures. (more)

Stephan Vigier

 2010 - 2014

headshot of Stephan Vigier in his hockey uniform

I currently play professional hockey in Lillehammer, Norway, a former Olympic city.  Many World Cup, World Championship, and winter sports events are still held here, with visitors from all over the world.  Because of my study with Dr. Kupper in the French Program at NMU, I don’t shy away from saying hi and starting conversation when I meet people speaking French, such as for example, professional athletes like skiers from France and snowboarders from Quebec.  I also find myself using French more with family and friends when I return home. (more)

Amber Shumard

 2006 - 2010

Photo of Alumni Amber Shumard


In business, it’s all about relationship building, and speaking with partners in their native language creates a stronger business relationship. It shows you have taken the time to learn their language and they greatly appreciate it, allowing you to connect on a higher level. (more)

Kaitlin McDonald

Fall 2009 - May 2012

Kaitlin in Senegal with the Peace Corps

I cannot express how valuable having a background in French was to my work.  French is used in many international organizations and is taught all over the world.  I served in the Peace Corps Senegal, September 2012 to November 2014 as an Agroforestry volunteer in rural Senegal, West Africa. (more)

Sidney R. Arnold

August 2005 - May 2009

Sidney Arnold


Learning French has benefitted me in my career plans as an attorney, making me more marketable in my field.  After graduating from NMU, I went to law school in Indianapolis, IN, and passed the bar exam this past fall.  I am now a licensed attorney in the state of Illinois. (more)

Kasie Alt 

August 2004 - May 2009

Kasie Alt


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. (more)

Monica Michele Lambert

August 2006-May 2010



I have been assigned to a Sub-Saharan Africa Peace Corps post because of my French education at NMU. I am embarking on a journey to Madagascar in March 2013, where I will be serving for two years as a Rural Environmental Food Security Advisor with the Peace Corps. French is their second official language next to Malagasy. 

Barbara Kathryn Thelen   

August 2000-May 2005

barb thelen



I found that my marketability in international business has been directly affected by my ability to communicate in French, which played a large role in my being hired into the internal audit department at TRW Automotive, an international company. If I did not speak French I would not have this job. This company simply does not hire people who speak only one language.

Alex Johnson-Buck

  August 2003 - May 2007

  alex buck              

I double majored in French and chemistry at NMU. From a practical perspective, the in-depth study of a foreign language honed my ability to critically analyze my statements for accuracy, clarity, and nuance, skills that are essential yet often overlooked in natural sciences. More broadly, my upper-level courses in French literature, film and culture, as well as a directed study of the social underpinnings of riots then occurring across France, forced me to reach beyond stereotypes (such as myths that the French are rude and hate Americans) and appreciate the complexity of foreign cultures, an immensely important ability in our ever-shrinking world. I believe my studies of French at NMU have greatly enriched my academic and personal pursuits, and will continue to do so.


Leanna Ketola

August 2001-May 2006


I would not change my French degree from NMU for anything. What we learned in the classroom pertaining to the French language and culture is not just limited to the country of France. I was able to use my French speaking skills and background in studying French during other NMU related trips including Costa Rica, Panama, and Italy. Studying French helped me understand other languages and customs. Since college I have also traveled throughout the Bahamas and Mexico, where again, the skills I had learned from my French classes at NMU largely added to my overall experience with interaction and comprehension of foreign countries. In my career I have used my French speaking skills to talk with coworkers and customers. 

Johanna Boyle

Fall 2003-Spring 2008

johanna boyle

Learning French has been critical in my life as a journalist. Working in a small-town newspaper, I can read the online editions of French papers, exposing me to a whole new angle of the news. I knew I had to study abroad to prepare me for the rest of life, which sounds kind of corny, but it is true that I gained a great level of confidence by living in France. Knowing I can survive in France gives me the confidence to be able to travel, should that ever become part of my career, and I hope it does. Even options like the Peace Corps are much more attractive having already broken out of the United States. 


Andrea Jovanovic

August 2003-December 2007

andrea jovanovic

I count my decision to continue studying French in college as one of my most farsighted when I think of all the opportunities I would not have had without it. One of these greatest opportunities was the time I spent studying abroad in Grenoble, France. 

Layla Khoury-Hanold

August 2000-May 2004

layla hanold

French was a key to pursuing my dreams and I know that I wouldn't be where I am today without it. With my dual degree in French and Marketing from NMU, I was accepted to ESMOD - Paris, into a fashion marketing /merchandising/ communicating program. If I hadn't pursued French at NMU, I never would have had the opportunity to study in Paris, one of the fashion capitals of the world. I feel very fortunate to be where I am - watching the new Spring 09 Anna Sui collection go down the runway at fashion week last week reminds me of how hard I worked and how my French studies landed me where I am today!

Journey (Steward) Schall

August 2001-May 2006

journey schall




Foremost, knowing French helped me get into graduate school at Northern Illinois University as I already have completed one of the requirements for my degree, and it reflected well that I am traveled, and that I have the skills necessary to learn a language.

Jill E. Grundstrom

August 2000-May 2005

Jill Grundstrom

I studied French for four years at NMU. The French language has indirectly been in my life since I turned two through the study of ballet. This was the reason I chose to study French over Spanish or German when it came time to pick a language in high school. My grasp of the French language and culture also helped me during my study abroad in Italy. Knowing French made picking up the Italian language much easier!  This was extremely helpful since many of the students and professors only spoke Italian.  There were also French students mixed in with the American and Italian students. I was one of few who could communicate with them in French whenever there was a language barrier.