Like many other students, when I first arrived at Drew, I was overwhelmed by the number of courses that were offered. Of Drew’s 30 majors, I never expected that I would end up majoring in French, let alone doing an honors thesis. But I’m glad I did. Doing an honors thesis in French was perhaps the most intellectually rigorous and rewarding experience of my undergraduate career. At the time, I was really interested in gender studies and film. These two passions ultimately culminated in the composition of my honors thesis in which I discussed how French-Canadian director Xavier Dolan undermines prevailing gender identities in contemporary Quebec and replaces standardized ideas about masculinity with alternative identities in his films. My honors thesis, directed by Prof. Pieretti, not only honed my research and communication skills but also helped build my self-confidence. Knowing that I did it once, and thus can do it again in the future, has helped lay the groundwork for future graduate study.
I graduated from Drew University in 2015 with a double major in French and Political Science. I’ve been fluent in French since the age of seven. I spent two years living in the city of light, one year when I was seven and one year when I was thirteen. With French culture being such a pivotal part of who I am, I knew that I wanted to study further and not let those years in Europe go to waste. My academic advisor, Professor Marie-Pascale Pieretti and all professors in the French department at Drew University were amazing. They allowed me to get back into the language, working on my grammar and writing before diving into advanced literature, film, poetry, and business classes. I was also the president of the Drew French club, a French teaching assistant, and a research assistant for Prof. Pieretti.
The French department has also provided me and many other students with incredibly educational and immersive trips. With the help of the French department I was able to spend my first semester junior year abroad in Bordeaux, France where I took classes at Bordeaux III Montaigne Montesquieu. We also were able to go to Quebec where we visited Montreal and Old Quebec.
I am currently working for an environmental company based in Bordeaux, France while I teach high school level English (with the TAPIF program). I’ve been here since September and will be coming back to America in the summer of 2016 in order to pursue a Masters degree in environmental policy. I would never be here today if it weren’t for Prof. Pieretti and the Drew University French department.
I arrived in the 6th Arrondissement by Métropolitain and found myself exiting the subway tunnels amidst the fast pace of corporate footsteps. What I saw when I reached the cobblestones was a perfect morning experience: the boulangerie-patisserie of the neighborhood stocked with honey-hued dark chocolate croissants, whose warm aromas enveloped even those from the balconies above. With my map of the City and a delicately flaky pastry at hand, I wandered the legendary streets of the left bank of the River Seine until I fell upon a familiar figure. At the gates of the Alliance Française de Paris stood Professor Marie-Pascale Pieretti, with her signature scarf and coupe carré, outlining the itinerary of the day before my Drew University classmates.
My first independent experience abroad as a student and ambassador of Drew University deeply inspired my success at Drew and beyond. In total, I completed four international seminars, including the Morocco to Paris DIS, International Business in French course trip to Québec, and an exchange program with the Centre Parisien d’Études Critiques and Université Sorbonne Nouvelle – Paris 3 as a Kathryn Stanley Scholar. I graduated from Drew University with honors in French in 2014, having served as President of the Association Francophone for two terms, been awarded the Elbridge and Edna Smith Prize and inducted into the Pi Delta Phi French Honor Society.
Lessons learned from travel and cultural immersion in France greatly influenced my professional career as a writer and photographer for leading publications, brands and organizations. Honorable features and collaborations include Phoenix Magazine, Design Sponge, The Style Line and Bloguettes. You can find my latest story, “A Conscious Coming Together” inConscious Magazine Issue 04 in Barnes & Noble stores nationwide.
I put my French degree to use as a human rights and conflict researcher. Since graduating in 2007 from Drew University, where I also majored in Political Science, my career has taken me from Washington, DC, to several Francophone African countries.
While at Drew, I studied global politics focused on American, French, and Francophone political culture. A Drew International Seminar gave me my first exposure to a French-speaking place – the Caribbean island of Martinique – which I followed up with study abroad semesters in Brussels and Paris.
After internships during Drew semesters in Washington and at the United Nations in New York, I started my career as an associate with the Washington advocacy team at Human Rights Watch. I then worked for the same organization in Senegal and eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, conducting research and advocacy on various human rights abuses.
I returned to graduate school to pursue master’s degrees from Sciences Po and Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs. I have since worked as an independent consultant for the United Nations and for various nongovernmental organizations and philanthropies on topics such as justice sector reform, conflict-related sexual violence, and post-conflict reconciliation.