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 personnally 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

2016            Zarine Kharazian

"French Attitudes towards Digital Eternity"

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"

2005-07           Kristina Walton

"The Privatization of Public Space: The French Shopping Arcade in 19th-Century Urban Culture"

2002-03       Alicia Ranck

"L'identité en transition: les Parisiens dans la littérature africaine migrante"

1999-2001     Christianne Voegele

"L'Église dans le syndicalisme: l'évolution de la CFTC"

1997-99           Jillian Woolard

"Trahisons et pièges: la polygamie dans trois romans d'écrivaines sénégalaises"

1995-97           Cybelle McFadden

"Imagining the Impossible: Alternative Visions and Representations of Women and Their Desire in Films by Kurys, Varda, and Akerman"

When to apply

The FINAL DEADLINE for the submission of all application materials is Monday, November 21, 2016 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 2016 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 Section Coordinator, Professor [[mxcomp, Magali Compan]], 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).

 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. 


Finally you can read Laura Wagstaff reflections about her experience as a McCormack-Reboussin recipient.

"When I first learned of the McCormack-Reboussin scholarship, I had little experience with independent research.  The thought of conducting my own project in a foreign country and completing a corresponding thesis was daunting, to say the least.  The more I thought about it, however, the more this challenge excited and inspired me.  With many unanswered questions still in mind, I set out to explore the unfamiliar realm of independent research projects.

For my research topic, I hoped to combine several of my personal interests in a new way.  I enjoyed studying the peoples and cultures of France and other Francophone countries, especially through their artistic expression.  I also loved music, and had recently begun taking pipe organ lessons at the College.  These two passions became the foundation for my project:  the cultural history of the pipe organ in eighteenth-century Paris.  I wanted to explore the role of the pipe organ during the French Enlightenment and to understand how this role represented and influenced the Parisian culture of the time.  Not only did this topic fascinate me, but it also allowed me to utilize historic documents available only in France's national library.

During my junior year, I began preparations for a summer research trip abroad.  I started by studying books and articles that related to my topic and were available in the United States.  Swem Library was a great starting point for this background research.  I also took classes in music history and eighteenth-century studies, which gave me a strong foundation for my research.  With my advisor, I carefully planned my trip and compiled a bibliography of materials to study while in France.  Finally, I discussed my research with as many professors and relevant experts as possible.  This important feedback helped me to develop my project further and put me in contact with French organists.  These steps gave me confidence that my trip to France would be productive and successful.

When I stepped into the Bibliothèque nationale in Paris for the first time, I was so excited and so nervous!  Fortunately, my stateside preparation really paid off.  I obtained permission to work in the library's archives and spent three weeks studying applicable primary and secondary sources.  I also visited several historic Parisian organs, and (with permission from the assistant organist) played the eighteenth-century organ at the church of St. Gervais.  Thanks to these first-hand encounters with period instruments and documents, I gained a unique understanding of my subject that would not have been possible without research abroad.  Additionally, my trip enhanced my knowledge of modern-day France and cross-cultural exchange.  While working in French libraries, living in a Parisian apartment, and speaking only French, I became comfortable participating in the daily life of a different culture.

My time in Paris ended only too quickly.  I spent my senior year developing my research into a Senior Honors Thesis, and received an evaluation of High Honors at my defense.  Even after graduation, I continue to be fascinated by pipe organs and French culture.  Eventually, I could easily see myself returning to the Bibliothèque nationale and expanding my thesis into a book.  This incredible experience was a highlight of my undergraduate career, and its many challenges have prepared me well for any path I decide to pursue. "