The McCormack-Reboussin Scholarship

for Rising Seniors in French & Francophone Studies


   Pr. Reboussin and Mark McCormack in front of the McCormack-Nagelsen Tennis Center

Purpose of the scholarship

How to apply?

What to include in the project description?

Past recipients of the scholarship

When to apply

Selection process

Download your application

Read what past recipients have to say 

Purpose of the Scholarship

In 1995, Mark McCormack, a distinguished alumnus and generous benefactor of the College, created a merit-based scholarship to support financially an outstanding French major during his or her third and fourth years at the College.  The scholarship was originally named in honor of Marcel Reboussin, a longtime member of the faculty in French at the College and Mr. McCormack's favorite professor from his days as a French major.  The scholarship now also bears the name of Mr. McCormack in honor of his many professional accomplishments, his unflagging devotion to his alma mater, and his inspired support for student research in the field of French & Francophone Studies. With the generous support of Mr. McCormack's daughter, Mrs. Leslie McCormack-Gathy, the terms of the scholarship were changed in 2008 in order to benefit more students.  The scholarship is now awarded on an annual basis to a rising senior French and Francophone Studies major at the College and is worth a total of $12,000:  up to $4,000 to support research to be conducted in a French-speaking country or region during the summer between the junior and senior years, with the remainder ($8,000 or more) to be applied toward tuition and fees for the senior year.  The research must treat an intellectually relevant topic related to the French language, French/Francophone literature, or the culture of a French-speaking country or region.  The scholarship recipient is subject to review by the French & Francophone Studies  faculty of the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures and must remain in very good academic standing in order to remain eligible for the summer research grant and the tuition grant for the senior year.  Detailed plans for the use of the summer research grant (i.e. a detailed written proposal outlining the definitive topic, the type of research to be conducted, the projected itinerary, and the projected budget) must be prepared under the supervision of a faculty research advisor in French & Francophone Studies  and submitted for the approval of the French & Francophone Studies faculty prior to the end of the spring semester of the recipient's junior year.  The on-site research funded by the McCormack-Reboussin Scholarship shall be conducted during the summer between the junior and senior years only, and shall serve as the foundation for further study of the topic during the recipient's senior year. The tangible final result of the research has normally been an Honors Thesis, with accompanying defense.

How to apply

Applicants must be formally declared French & Francophone Studies majors at the time they submit a scholarship application.  They should be academic as well as social Juniors, i.e. they must be in the next-to-last year of their studies, with plans to graduate the following year.  Non-majors interested in the scholarship are thereby encouraged to declare a major in French & Francophone Studies prior to submitting their application. For information about deadlines, see "when to apply" below.

The following materials must be submitted with the application:  1) an application cover form; 2) an updated William & Mary academic transcript; 3) a preliminary description IN FRENCH (2 pages in length) of the summer research project the applicant plans to conduct; 4) a bibliography for the project; and 5) a sample of the applicant's analytical writing IN ENGLISH  (8-12 pages in length) on a topic of his or her choice (not necessarily directly related to French, but on a topic in the humanities), which may be a research or term paper previously completed for another course at the College. This writing sample will be used to assess the applicant's analytical capacity, research skills, and ability to structure a sustained (and balanced) argument.

The candidate's project description must be his or her own original work.  While a candidate may find it helpful to discuss potential research topics with a member of the French & Francophone Studies faculty, the faculty member is not allowed to assist the candidate in the drafting of his or her project description.

What to include in the project description

A research project is an intellectual process of critical inquiry and discovery that will enrich your course-related learning. You can undertake a library research project or/and a field research project in any relevant French-speaking country or region.  Your project description must identify a challenging and intellectually broadening experience. Address in it the following points:

1) What is your general topic or field of inquiry? Why have you chosen it?

2) What do you hope to gain both academically and personally from the research you plan to conduct?

3) What is the specific question (or set of questions) that you would like to answer?

4) How do you intend to answer this question? What is your working hypothesis?

5) Why is a research project of the type proposed the best way to answer this question and/or test this hypothesis?

6) What preparation do you have to research this topic and to analyze these materials? Please discuss relevant course work, readings (you may list relevant sources in a brief bibliography), discussions with professors, and personal experiences.

7) What methods of analysis and critical approaches do you intend to use?

8) How could you further prepare for this research trip?

9) What resources will you utilize while traveling abroad? Where are they located? What difficulties do you foresee in gaining access to these resources?

10) How will you organize your time while traveling abroad? Is your project feasible in this time frame?

Should you be selected as a finalist, you will be expected to develop the main points of your proposal (especially those related to nos. 6-10 above) in greater detail during the course of your follow-up interview with the selection committee.

Past recipients of the scholarship

2017           Jesse Tanson

"The Politics and Art of Identity in French Hip Hop"

2016            Zarine Kharazian

"Yet Another French Exception: The Legal, Cultural, and Political Dimensions of France’s Support for the Digital Right to Be Forgotten"

2015           Kristen Ritchey

"Lieux de mémoire, lieux d'amnésire: La Tension identitaire en Guadeloupe"

2014       Elisabeth Bloxam

"Le Mythe et la Mémoire : Les séquelles de la deuxième guerre mondiale en France à travers ses monuments nationaux"

2013       Elena Santini

"The Allure and Scandal of Otherness in the Operas of Georges Bizet and their Source Texts" 

2012       Daniel Hodges

"Multiculturalisme et formation des identités culturelles à Kinshasa"

2011         Bridget Carr

"L’héritage de la colonisation française et l’aide au développement : un « nouvel impérialisme »? Etude de cas au Sénégal."

2010         Philippe Halbert

"Dauphins royaux, boucs de Trianon, abeilles impériales : La politique de l'animal en France, 1660-1830"  

2009            Eve Grice

"L'égalité en crise: conceptions paradoxales de la différence dans l'histoire. La  Cité nationale de l'histoire de l'immigration."

2007-09       Laura Wagstaff

"Instrument of Enlightenment: A Cultural History of the Pipe Organ in Pre-Revolutionary Eighteenth-Century France"

When to apply

The FINAL DEADLINE for the submission of all application materials is Monday, November 20, 2017 at 5:00 P.M.  Applications are to be submitted to Michelle Sherman in the main office of the Department of Modern Languages & Literatures, located in 210 Washington Hall.

Selection Process

Once applicants have been certified as bona fide French majors, a committee composed of members of the French faculty of the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures will immediately begin the process of reviewing the application materials. Finalists will be notified by late November.  They will then be interviewed by the members of the committee during the first week of December, and the name of the new McCormack-Reboussin scholar will be announced before the end of the Fall 2017 semester.  The following criteria will be used in the selection process:  general academic achievement, excellence in French studies, the quality of the research project description submitted, the quality of the sample of analytical writing submitted, faculty assessment of the applicant's performance in French courses, the oral interviews of the finalists.  

Please contact the French Program Director, Professor [[mfleru, Michael Leruth]], or another member of the French faculty, if you have any general questions about the McCormack-Reboussin Scholarship in French.

You can download your application (pdf)

You can also read the proposals of previous recipients of the McCormack-Reboussin scholarship. As the applications are the mark of students alone, these documents have not been edited by faculty. You can read Eve Grice's proposal (pdf), and Laura Wagstaff's (pdf).

Jesse Tanson, 2017 scholarship recipient has this to say about his experience in Paris:

"Winning the McCormack-Reboussin scholarship came to me as a huge surprise. I had other friends who applied whose ideas seemed so much more worthy of being funded than my project about hip-hop and identity. Then I won the scholarship. I was elated and grateful to my professors, but also a bit worried about how to tackle a topic as huge as French hip-hop, the politics surrounding it, and how it related to identity in a way that did not cling to the usual "neither here nor there" structure of identity with analyses of French rappers and their music. However, with the help of my advisors, I was able to narrow down my topic, find sources and begin researching the topic.

I remember moving to Paris and saying to myself. 'I'm finally here, the city of lights, the city that sparked my interest in France and French culture'. More than being there, I was there with a purpose: to explore one of the major cities of French hip-hop. I couldn't have asked for a better purpose. Each day, if I wasn't taking the metro to the Médiathèque Musicale de Paris in the 1st arrondissement, I was listening to songs as I took in the spirit of Paris, letting it guide me wherever it did, which included impromptu rap concerts by the Panthéon and different styles of music from all over the world such as Lebanon or Italy. The scholarship also provided me the opportunity to travel to Grenoble for a festival in which I was able to see the physical intersections of politics and music as there were debates on US-Cuba relations and communism in the same space that Keny Arkana rapped fantastic verses about the woes people face day in and day out.  During my stay in Paris, I attended the Paris Hip-Hop festival where I witnessed an immense diversity of artists, styles of rap, and fans as well. It was an unforgettable experience. Overall, I would not trade the experience I was able to have because of the McCormack-Reboussin for anything. This scholarship is an opportunity that I highly recommend students try for because it allows one to develop as a student, a researcher, and as a person as it did for me."

Zarine Kharazian, 2016 recipient of the scholarship, explains how the scholarship continues to have an impact in her current work experience:

"I currently work as a legal assistant/editor for an international criminal law practice in DC. I serve as the assistant editor of the International Enforcement Law Reporter, a monthly subscription journal that reports on the premier developments in the international enforcement law field. I use my French periodically at work when writing articles or blog posts for the journal that draw on primary French sources,such as agency press releases and court filings.
While I use my French at work periodically, I use the skills I honed while doing research for my honors thesis with the McCormack-Reboussin scholarship every single day. Being able to read academic scholarship critically, identify gaps in existing literature, and formulate novel arguments helps me write more creative and engaging articles."

 Here is what recent awardee Kristin Richey has to say about her experience as a McCormack-Reboussin scholar.

I first heard about the McCormack- Reboussin scholarship my freshman year, when I attended a department event highlighting student research.  Despite not having declared a French major yet, nor having a specific research interest, I knew that it was something that I wanted to apply for.  I did eventually declare a French major—largely in part due to what I saw that day—and through my classes, developed a passion for Francophone Caribbean literature.

Fall of my junior year, I studied abroad in Montpellier, where I crafted a research proposal on representations of slavery in Guadeloupe.  I nervously sent the proposal to my major advisor, whose enthusiastic response and advice pushed me to refine my question and send a completed proposal.  When I returned to the States, I began to prepare in earnest for my summer research trip to Guadeloupe.  I began by learning everything I could about Guadeloupe, using both scholarly books and non-scholarly sources such as tourist websites and cultural event calendars.  I met frequently with my advisor to determine a plan of action, how to prioritize my time, and how to compile notes and research from my time there.

Stepping off of the plane in Guadeloupe was simultaneously the most thrilling and terrifying moment of my life.  Seeing my project finally come to fruition gave me a deep-rooted sense of satisfaction, while landing in a foreign country where I knew no one, but had committed to spend the next four weeks absolutely petrified me.  Soon enough, however, I realized that all of my preparations had paid off, and that my classes in the French department had equipped me with skills and a confidence that I didn’t know I possessed.  My days were spent driving around the island, touring museums, heritage sites, exploring performances and cultural events, and even meeting some local authors.  I accomplished more than I’d ever hoped, both academically and personally, and returned home ready to tackle my honors thesis.

Developing my thesis my senior year remains one of the highlights of my undergraduate experience, potentially only surpassed by the moment I received highest honors at my defense.  While the lessons I learned during my time as a McCormack-Reboussin scholar will benefit me no matter what direction life take me, I can see myself continuing with my research in a PhD program, eventually moving to research this topic professionally.  I truly cannot say enough good things about the opportunities and benefits that this scholarship provides to undergraduate students.