French & Francophone Studies & Economics
As an international student from Ghana, my sole reason for taking up French in addition to my Economics major was to be able to communicate fluently with people from neighboring countries (Togo, Côte d'Ivoire, and Burkina Faso – all French speaking). However, the French and Francophone Studies department at W&M is a tight knit community made up of compassionate professors who exposed me to so much more than French grammar -- from courses on provocative texts, to contemporary degenerative realist novels to feminist theories on women's writing! I have been constantly challenged and rewarded each step of the way. As I start my career in Finance in New York City this summer, I hope to continue to find ways to engage with the French language daily, whether through podcasts, novels or music.
Russian and Post-Soviet Studies & Engineering Physics
As a Engineering Physics and RPSS double major, my time at the College has not always been pleasant. Despite that, I have loved every second I spent with the RPSS program. It is the place where I met a lot of my friends and it provided a nice way for me to decompress between my more mathematically intense classes. It is also the place where I was introduced to the beauty of Russian cinema and literature. While I am sad to be graduating, I am very grateful to the RPSS program, and the MLL Department as whole, for providing me with a wonderful experience. In regards to my post-graduation plans, I will be working at the DoD where I will be utilizing both my majors as an analyst.
Hispanic Studies & Finance
Russian and Post-Soviet Studies
From the start of my career at William & Mary, I knew that I wanted to major in Hispanic Studies. I wanted to continue to improve my fluency and learn more about Latin America and Latinx communities within the United States. I thoroughly enjoyed the classes that I took and am incredibly grateful for the opportunity that I had to study abroad in La Plata, Argentina. I met many wonderful people through this department and have become much more confident in my Spanish language skills.
The classes that I took with Professor Riofrio and Dr. Varra on Latinx communities in the United States directly contributed to my decision to go to the University of Virginia next year to pursue my master's degree in ESL. After I finish that program, I plan to either work as an ESL teacher or a teacher in a bilingual elementary school. Thank you to all the wonderful professors in the Hispanic Studies department who helped me on my journey!
German Studies & Government
Choosing to pursue a major in German Studies was one of the best decisions I made during my time at W&M. From my very first day of Modern German Critical Thought with Professor Leventhal back in 2017, I knew I had found a program that would help me improve not only my language skills, but my intellectual capabilities.
Over the past four years, my passion for German language and culture presented me with countless opportunities to learn and grow. From learning about the Holocaust on a study away program to interning with a tech start-up in Munich, my German Studies major allowed me to travel, engage with scholars, and deepen my understanding of the world. I also was able to build genuine relationships with my fellow German Studies students, many of whom are moving on to pursue incredible opportunities in the German-speaking world.
Next year, I will begin my education in international law at the University of Michigan Law School. Inspired by my undergraduate majors in German Studies and Government, I also plan to pursue a graduate certificate in European and European Union Studies. I am excited to see what my future holds, and I know it all would not have been possible without the support of my MDLL professors and peers.
A special thank you to Professor Leventhal, Professor Gülly, and Professor Ellis for their mentorship these past few years. I hope they know that their patience, guidance, and encouragement meant the world to me.
Chinese Studies & International Relations
My experience as an International Relations and Chinese double-major has opened my heart and mind to global affairs, cultural heritage, and language appreciation. I’ve been learning Mandarin Chinese since middle school- but William & Mary gave me the resources to actually learn about the country as a whole. My summer at Beijing Normal University was transformative; I dined on Peking Duck (many, many times), climbed the Great Wall, perused hutongs, sang karaoke, and made friends from around the world. Even in Williamsburg I felt deeply connected to what I was studying. Being the Chinese major peer advisor, interning for the Confucius Institute, completing an honors thesis, and landing the Freeman Fellowship reaffirmed my passions. I’m so deeply grateful that I was able to nurture my studies and personal interests, as well as introduce many other students to what the Chinese major has to offer.
After I graduate this May, I plan on attending New York University pursuing a joint-masters degree in Journalism and East Asian Studies. This next step will help catapult me into investigative journalism or policy making, as I hope to one day make a difference with the expertise from my studies. A big thank you to Professor Michael Hill for aiding me in my post-graduation process and honors thesis, as well as Professor Chun-Yu Lu for leading my study abroad and being such an instrumental language teacher at William & Mary.
Hispanic Studies & Biology
I knew I wanted to major in Hispanic Studies as well as Biology as soon as I got to William and Mary, and I am so happy with my decision. The Hispanic Studies program gave me some of my favorite classes and favorite professors during my four years here, and I’m glad I got to keep up and improve my Spanish while doing it. I have always loved the language and all the cultures, and having traveled to so many Spanish speaking countries it’s been so helpful to have been able to converse with the people there.I double majored in Biology and Hispanic Studies wanting to be able to combine the two after graduation. The dream is to work in animal conservation and research in Central or South America. I’m also a huge diver and I would love to work in the field of shark conservation, so this summer I’m spending a month or two in Utila, Honduras to get my Dive Master certification! I hope to find some conservation work after that and then apply to grad school the next year.
Although hailing from first-generation Italian American parents, my journey to formally learn Italian really started when I got to William & Mary. It was a really great experience to enhance my language skills and combine it with the customs and traditions I grew up with. The Modern Languages department, and more specifically the Italian Studies program, has offered me a range of cultural studies courses that have augmented my appreciation for Italian history and contemporary contributions. While studying abroad was not in the cards for me, the faculty in the department did everything they could for me to help me get the most out of my experience: we worked to design a curriculum specific to me and my interests! After graduation I will be working for an IT consultant to the federal government, where business with the State Department will hopefully send me abroad. I am grateful for this supplemental educational opportunity and I can't wait to see where it will take me.
When I first began studying German in high school, I had no idea of the lasting impact it would have on my life and my studies in college. I decided to take one of Professor Leventhal’s courses during my very first semester and fell in love with the German Studies program. I enjoyed seeing how close-knit the students were and the strong relationships that they were able to form with the professors. With encouragement from Professor Leventhal, I decided to declare a double major with German Studies. I’ve greatly enjoyed all of my German Studies classes as well as my time as a TA for the department, and I can truly say that I am friends with all of my fellow German Studies majors.
One of the highlights of my college experience was my study abroad in Potsdam, Germany the summer after my freshman year. Over the course of the program, I forged strong bonds with my fellow German Studies students, many of whom are graduating with me, and with our program leader Frau Gully. I loved living in Berlin and was able to greatly improve my German skills with the help of my host family, who I am still in touch with today.
Next year I will be putting my German skills to good use as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Germany. Afterwards I will be returning stateside to begin medical school at George Washington University in 2022. I know that I would not be where I am today without the guidance of my professors, especially Professor Leventhal and Professor Gully, and I can’t thank them enough for all of their guidance over the past four years.
Studying Chinese Language and Culture has been one of my great joys throughout my time at William and Mary. Whether it was improving my language skills in class, participating in cultural activities in the Chinese House, or bonding with my many friends in the department, Chinese studies always gave me a sense of accomplishment and community.
Having fallen in love with the Chinese language in high school, I came into William and Mary excited to continue my studies. Four years later, I am happy to say my time in the department more than lived up to my high expectations. From my very first semester, the professors and other students made me feel welcome and excited to learn. The classes were often difficult but always rewarding, the professors were passionate, and the other students were supportive.
Chinese studies also gave me my most cherished college memory: my time studying abroad at Beijing Normal University in the Summer of 2019. Meeting new friends, exploring the city, and experiencing Chinese culture in an immersive environment helped me take my Chinese to the next level and build relationships that will last a lifetime. I often find myself getting nostalgic for those two and a half months, and I’m sure this will only continue as college gets farther away.
Next year, I will be attending New York University to begin a Master’s Degree in Psychology. While I do not plan to continue with the formal study of Chinese, I hope to keep up my language skills and to one day return to China. As I move on with my life, I will forever be grateful for the skills, the memories, and the friendships that the Chinese Department gave me.
Elizabeth de Jager
French and Francophone Studies & International Relations
My time as a French major has given me some of my most treasured memories at William and Mary. I began my French classes in order to fulfill the language requirement for my degree in International Relations, but I soon decided to major in French as well. My professors were not only knowledgeable and enthusiastic, but they also truly embraced our individual progress and all the mistakes that came with it. Anyone who has tried to learn a language knows how uncomfortable and daunting it can be, but from my first French class at William and Mary, there was always an atmosphere of support and acceptance that made the classes as fun as they were challenging.
One of my most meaningful memories was my study abroad program in Montpellier in the summer of 2019. I loved getting to know the other William and Mary students, staying with a host family, and visiting amazing sites all over France. Beyond improving my French skills, my whole experience in Montpellier was unforgettable and I will always be grateful that I had the opportunity to share that experience with the group and Professor Compan.
After graduation I will join a human rights NGO, the Global Human Rights Defense as a research intern and in September I will begin a graduate program at Leiden University in Global Political Economy.
French & Francophone Studies
When I look back on my years as a French major at W&M, what stands out to me is how much everyone in the department (students and faculty alike) have challenged me intellectually and personally. Through my French studies, I have been encouraged to enrich my worldview and grow as a scholar by exploring new perspectives; learning about literature, history, and culture in ways that challenge the official and most accepted narratives; and by investigating a vast array of different topics while never ceasing to be amazed by the depth and scope of how much there is to learn. Above all, I will always cherish the connections I’ve made with peers, faculty, and community members through my studies on campus and abroad. While I do not yet have set plans for next year, I am considering the Teaching Assistant Program in France and pursuing a master’s degree in ESL/Bilingual Education in the near future—both of which would allow me to continue applying what I have learned as a French major!
Hispanic Studies & Kinesiology and Health Sciences
Hispanic Studies & Sociology
French & Francophone Studies
I started by taking German language course in my first semester in college, mostly for really loving classical music and wanting to travel to Germany and Austria one day. But Professor Gülly, who was teaching the course at that time, helped us go beyond the language itself and introduced me to topics such as European immigration, Berlin in the Cold War and the aftermath of Nazism. I was surprised yet so fascinated by the many connections between German Studies and my other interest in politics. Before I knew it, I have taken courses in German history, philosophy, literature and films so that becoming a German major just seemed like the natural thing to do (I still remember how vigorously Professor Gülly attempted to talk everyone on the study abroad program in Potsdam who was not already in German Studies into doing a major or minor, and yes, she often succeeded).
The fall immediately after the Potsdam program, I took Professor Leventhal’s German philosophy course. For the first time I was systematically introduced into the vast body of German critical thought, and became deeply fascinated by such thinkers as Marx, Benjamin, and Heidegger. The course completely changed my intended academic direction from European politics to political philosophy. Long story short, now I am about to start my doctoral work in political philosophy, specifically German Critical Theory.
The faculty at the German studies program have shown me not just what it is like to love what you teach but to love teaching itself. I hope to emulate it in my own academic career.
German Studies & Psychology
The German Studies Department has shaped me as a scholar and person. Our lessons have solidified my interest in promoting human rights through an in-depth study of the Holocaust and through the department’s support in helping me bring Holocaust survivor Frank Shatz to the College in 2019. The department also supported me in studying in Germany in 2020 and in starting up the German Newspaper--experiences which have allowed me to develop my language and leadership skills.
Although I find the German Studies class material innately interesting, it has been my professors who have made this experience memorable. Professor Leventhal was there to help me when I was having academic-related problems due to the pandemic in 2020, and it was wonderful and calming knowing that my department was there to support me. Professor Ellis has been my honors advisor since 2019, and has always been positive, kind, and flexible with me, especially when I needed it the most. Professor Burney is without a doubt one of the coolest professors at W&M, Professor Gülly is eager to assist students--even ones she has not taught, like me--to help them reach their goals, and I am thankful for Professor Taylor for allowing me to overuse office hours when I first came to W&M and helping me enroll in my study abroad program.
I am also thankful for the German Haus. This is where I have met some of my greatest friends at W&M. We still keep in touch years later.
From playing soccer on the Sunken Gardens to cookouts outside of Randolph, our department feels like a family, and I will always be grateful for that.
In regards to my post-W&M plans, I will serve as a teaching assistant in Vienna for this upcoming school year!
French and Francophone Studies
German Studies & Computer Science
Even before arriving at William & Mary, I was sure that I would be following one of my greatest passions in life: the study of the German language. Through the help of everyone in the German Studies program, I deepened my understanding of both the German language and culture. At first, I, like many others, was unsure of how far I would take my language studies, but as I took class after class, I realized that there is much deeper knowledge and appreciation to be gained through cultural studies than just the rote study of language. After this realization, I put in my paperwork to become a full double major and I cannot be happier with that decision.
My German studies climaxed with the fulfillment of a personal goal to someday go to Germany after I had reached competent speaking ability. In the winter and spring of 2020, I studied abroad in Berlin where I surprised myself with my ability to blend into another culture. Despite being cut short due to the pandemic, the months that I spent immersed in a foreign but familiar culture will be cornerstone memories in my life.
I want to thank everyone in the German Studies program for educating me as well as they did. Specifically: Bruce Campbell for introducing me to the modern city and Lang's Metropolis, Veronika Burney for strengthening my grammar and knowledge of children's shows, Jennifer Gülly for leading me through the rich history of German classical literature, and Robert Leventhal for showing me that even the most bland text can have meanings deeper than I could ever imagine. Without such passionate professors, I never would've made it to where I am.
I will be working after graduation as a programmer using my Computer Science degree.
My journey of studying Chinese has been long, challenging, and rewarding. I began studying Chinese in the 3rd grade, the first year my school began to offer Chinese instruction for any of its students. I can still remember the resistance I put up upon hearing my parents placed me in the Chinese class- I had wanted to take French as my parents had both taken French when they were in grade school. I am very thankful that my parents did not switch me over because I quickly developed a passion for learning about Chinese language in culture. I was drawn to the Chinese characters. I tried to predict which strokes would come first as the teachers would teach us how to write. The sounds and tones of the Chinese language felt strange but exciting on my tongue. I learned that Chinese culture was not too different from the culture of Laos, the birthplace of my mother. It felt like Chinese culture helped me connect with my own heritage. Looking back, I can still remember Chinese poems I memorized 10 years ago. Don't even get me started on the food! But what kindled my interest the most were my parents. They were beside me, guiding me every step of the way. They would help me study and memorize, pushing me to excel even when I was being difficult. Neither of them even spoke Chinese. Instead, they tried to learn it with me and supported me wherever I needed it. To my parents, I owe everything. I would not have been able to get anywhere if it wasn't for the sacrifices they made for me and their unconditional love and support. For my two parents, Ben and Fongsanith Harper, I am eternally grateful.
Learning Chinese at William & Mary was an amazing experience. My Chinese class felt like my second family. I knew and enjoyed spending time with each and every student in my class, both inside and outside of the classroom. There was no such thing as a bad professor in the Chinese department. I felt like each and every one of my professors: Li Laoshi, Professor Hill, and two professors both named Lu Laoshi, were all personally invested in my success as a student. They all went above and beyond what was required of them as professors and were the type of people students could look to for guidance as role models. My study abroad trip to China was life changing and not only improved my Chinese language skills but also allowed me to grow as a person as I got to live and breathe Chinese culture for three short but sweet months. The memories I made in China are ones that I will treasure for the rest of my life. I am so grateful for the opportunities William & Mary offered to explore Chinese language and culture, and I am grateful for the awesome professors and friends I made along the way.
Looking forward, I hope to use my Chinese skills in every way I can. Just last week I chatted with a Chinese business owner and helped translate for a customer of hers. My friends and I still use Chinese to talk to each other to help keep our skills sharp. I can't wait to return to China- I've already convinced my fiancee to spend our honeymoon there! Last but not least, I'm very excited to start my new job in marketing (my minor) and hopefully put my Chinese skills to use in the business world. Chinese has always been a part of my life, and I intend to keep it that way!
Chinese Studies & Government
I came to William & Mary set on being a Chinese major, I had already invested years learning the language and I was really excited to continue learning it. What I did not realize was how much I would grow to love the people in the program here, both professors and students. That first year of 8 am Chinese 205/6 with 苏老师 was hard to get to sometimes but such a rewarding experience by the end of the year. Some of my closest friends have been made in Chinese class, bonding over the vocab quiz or laughing about the presentation we were going to have to make the next day. It has not just been the language though, the culture classes have been by far my favorite classes at this school and I have loved every single one from Professor Lu’s Forbidden Romance in China COLL 150 to Professor Vierthaler’s Hacking Chinese Studies which really pushed the limits of my knowledge of technology far beyond what I expected.
The summer I spent at Tsinghua University after freshman year is one, I will never forget and while my Chinese improved exponentially, I also learned a ton about myself. I am incredibly excited to spend next year in Foshan, China teaching English and continuing to work on my Chinese skills. I will never forget the Chinese department because it has really felt like my academic home for the past four years. I have been pushed but also been supported every step of the way.
Hispanic Studies & History
I have truly enjoyed my time as a Chinese major at W&M. I started out with Chinese 101 in my freshman year and have taken a language course every semester since then. I am confident that I can take the skills I have learned as a Chinese major into my future endeavors and am glad I decided to take that first Chinese class 4 years ago. Special thanks to Professor Michael Hill and Professor Qian Su for their guidance and support throughout the years, as well as my classmates who have made the whole endeavor beyond worthwhile. The MLL department and the Chinese major in particular are a fantastic group of people I'm lucky to have been a part of.
Jireh Jin Lee
Japanese Studies & Computer Science
French and Francophone Studies & Government
Chinese Studies & International Relations
I am incredibly grateful to have spent the past four years taking nearly every single class offered by the Chinese Studies program! I met some of my closest friends in Chinese 101 and at Chinese House events, and we pushed each other to succeed all the way until the end (Chinese 410!). The hilarious conversations, hours of trial and error, and feelings of strong camaraderie made my experience at W&M wonderful. I will forever remember the day when my classmates and I won an award for making a murder mystery film with the title translated as "To Sadler to Eat Food" or when all of us plotted to incorporate the textbook character--whose name translated to "Small Cola"--into our midterm essay. I will miss eating moon cakes with my classmates during Chinese New Year, eating hot pot with students and professors at the Chinese House, and arguing about politics during our class debates. I'd like to especially thank Professor Michael Hill, Professor Paul Vierthaler, and Qian Su Laoshi for their invaluable guidance and incredible teaching.
On top of Chinese language learning, W&M's Chinese culture classes instilled within me a great fascination for the complexity of ancient Chinese history and Chinese foreign policy. This drove my East Asian focus as a primary International Relations major and will influence my future career in international peace and security. I look forward to using my language skills and passion for foreign policy as an intern U.S. Indo-Pacific Command's Alliances Branch this coming summer, as well as beginning a Fulbright scholarship in Taiwan! I also hope to pursue a master’s degree in International Studies. I look forward to staying in touch with the W&M Chinese Studies program and seeing what wonderful research and events they continue to do.
When I arrived at William & Mary, I was sure that I was going to major in history, and I never expected to take more than a few Hispanic Studies classes. However, after enrolling in “Cross-Cultural Perspectives” my first semester, I fell in love with the cultural studies component of these courses. I decided to double major in Hispanic Studies and history, and now cannot imagine my time at William & Mary without the Hispanic Studies program. I have honed my Spanish language skills and have also gained an interdisciplinary understanding of the cultural, political, and historical landscape of the Spanish-speaking world.
One of my favorite things about the Hispanic Studies department is how supportive the faculty is. I am grateful for all of the guidance Professors Buck, Tandeciarz, and Cate-Arries have given me over the years. This department has also provided me with invaluable experiences outside of the classroom through study abroad programs in Cádiz, Spain, Guatemala, and La Plata, Argentina. Perhaps the biggest impact on my college experience, though, was taking “Text Translation” with Professor Cate-Arries. I learned that there is more to translating than knowing the language, and that the cultural knowledge I have gained throughout the Hispanic Studies curriculum is crucial to successful translation work. This class illuminated a career path that I had previously never considered but am incredibly excited about pursuing. I will be attending Wake Forest University in the fall for an MA in Interpreting & Translation Studies.
Hispanic Studies & Economics
German Studies & Economics
Being a part of the German Studies program at William and Mary has been one of the most rewarding and fulfilling parts of my undergraduate experience. I have improved and gained skills in conversation, critical thinking, literary analysis, and even teaching. I am thankful for Professor Gülly, who not only helped me become a TA as a freshman, but supported me in every aspect of my undergraduate career and believed in my language skills even when I did not. I am thankful for Professor Taylor, who did an independent study with me and never failed to make me laugh, Professor Leventhal is an amazing resource and faculty advisor who truly cares about his students, and Professor Burney, who helped me complete my senior capstone as a sophomore and never hesitated to stay back and help me when I was struggling.
As I look back on my time at William and Mary, I am extremely grateful for the experiences and people I have met through the German Studies program. The close-knit community that the Modern Languages Department has fostered allowed me to find lifelong friends and a community at William and Mary that supports me. I truly cannot imagine my undergraduate experience without the support from the faculty and students in the German Studies program and I am excited to see where my German skills take me.
While the pandemic cut my study abroad experience in Argentina short, I am grateful to have spent a short time in South America and long to return hopefully soon! I am also thankful for the opportunity to be a HISP TA and teach introductory Spanish classes in my final semester at the College. Along with these opportunities, my classes have impacted me just as much and have been a true joy to enhance my knowledge of the field.
I want to thank Prof. Baker in 2018 for encouraging me to major in HISP as well as Prof. Varra for improving my Spanish accent and speech potential. I also greatly appreciate Prof. Cantarello for an amazing class on Mexican issues and both Prof. Root and Prof. Buck for their genuine kindness and support. As I look toward the future, I can’t wait to utilize my experiences from the HISP department no matter where life takes me.
Hispanic Studies & Government
Russian and Post-Soviet Studies & Linguistics
While I didn’t intend to major in a language when I first came to William & Mary, the Modern Languages & Literatures Department has consistently been the most important and influential place to me during my 4 years here. Taking my freshman seminar “Feminism & Women Culture in Russia” with Sasha Prokhorov changed my entire educational trajectory, as I decided then and there that I wanted to pursue a major in Russian & Post-Soviet Studies. I cannot thank the professors in the RPSS department enough for all of their support – most of my best memories are thanks to you. Thank you for all of the amazing opportunities you’ve provided me with – making crosswords for Gazeta, translating & transcribing interviews about Russian movie culture, organizing events for the department, reading Dostoevsky in the original Russian, and learning from all of you about Russian language, history, politics, and culture. I will never forget my incredible trip to St. Petersburg with this program, where I met my best friends and had some of the most unique and incredible experiences of my life. I’m going to miss seeing you all around Washington Hall, which I’ve long considered to be my second home. After graduation, I’m looking forward to putting my RPSS degree to use as a translator as I continue to hone my skills and understanding of Russian culture. Спасибо большое!
Hispanic Studies & Global Studies
My college experience was defined by Modern Languages, and specifically the Hispanic Studies department. I’ve been fortunate enough to take advantage of many opportunities thanks to Hispanic Studies. My time abroad, via the Cadiz program and the La Plata program, gave me unforgettable experiences and lifelong friends. I’ve been able to complete two summer research projects (thank you to Prof. Cate-Arries and Prof. Tandeciarz!) and participate for nearly two years in the W&M - National Security Archive partnership. The incredible experience of learning Spanish has cascaded into a desire for more languages (Portuguese, Italian, and hopefully more to come!), along with a passion for teaching languages which I’ve explored for two semesters as a Hispanic Studies TA (thank you Prof. Cantarello!). I’ve also just adored the coursework that comes with Hispanic Studies (thanks to Prof. Terukina and Prof. Buck for two exceptional senior seminar courses!).
My time with Hispanic Studies has let me be surrounded by exceptional students and professors throughout my time at William and Mary, for which I am eternally grateful. The professors, in particular, have been amazing role models, whom I hope to emulate as I pursue teaching English abroad after graduation.
French & Francophone Studies
I’m eternally grateful I stumbled into my French COLL100 my first semester because Professor Pacini has been an absolute treasure as a major advisor and role model. She helped me work through a four-year long period of burnout with French, reminded me to sleep 8 hours a day, and has also been lovely to talk to. She talked me into bumping a French minor into a French major, directed me toward UVA’s Lyon program, and sometimes just chatted with me about Philadelphia when I missed home.
Much of my International Relations work has focused on the Slavic world, but French has always been where I feel most comfortable. I gained an odd assortment of insights, like up and coming French revitalization movements in Maine and Vermont, the history of surrealist collage art, and the fact that I’ve spoken with a slight to moderate Quebec accent all my life and it’s only gotten more marked after taking a class on North American French. It’s been unabashedly nice, discovering things that I enjoy about French again. Even if I end up in Ukraine with the Peace Corps once travel opens up again, French is still my first love.
French and Francophone Studies & Biology
Being a French Major has helped me to thrive academically and personally during my time at William & Mary. The French program cultivates an ideal learning environment in which students and faculty are mutually supportive and genuinely interested in one another’s pursuits. I have especially benefited from close relationships with faculty in designing research projects of my own, and would never have discovered my own unique interests, much less how they can converge, without their encouragement. As an Honors student and the recipient of the McCormack-Reboussin scholarship for research in French & Francophone studies, I am highly indebted to the program’s commitment to the undergraduate research experience.
Based on my enjoyment of my honors research, I wanted to encourage other students to consider pursuing projects of their own. I was fortunate to be able to help organize the program’s annual research festival in Fall 2020. Furthermore, I have been honored to contribute to the French program as a teaching assistant. It has been a pleasure to work alongside faculty mentors and fellow T.A.s in order to instill a passion for French language and culture among intermediate-level students.
I will very much miss the French & Francophone Studies program upon graduation, but I look forward to keeping in touch with friends and faculty and supporting the program as an alumna. Meanwhile, I will continue to enjoy French literature and music throughout my life and hope someday to have the chance to refine my spoken French through international travel.
Hispanic Studies & Psychology
Hispanic Studies & International Relations
My time abroad emboldened me to undertake an Honors Thesis, a fulfilling, yearlong research project allowing me to synthesize everything I have learned from my time in Hispanic Studies. In this project, I discuss the Andalusian socio-political identity and how the national and supranational levels of authority in Spain and the European Union affect such identity.
I wish to extend my most profound appreciation especially to Professor Buck, Professor Cate-Arries, and Professor Terukina, all of whom have greatly helped me navigate this program as well as the world after college, which is a testament to the stimulating, conscientious, and generous nature of each HISP professor. I am eager to pursue my professional and academic formation at the Universidad Carlos III de Madrid in Spain working towards a Máster en Geopolítica y Estudios Estratégicos. Afterwards, I hope to take what robust resources with which the HISP program has equipped me to begin a career in the field of Diplomacy and International Relations.
Being a Chinese major in the undergraduate department at the College of William and Mary has been an extremely fruitful experience. I have made amazing friends, learned a great deal about the various aspects of East Asian culture, and improved in all facets in speaking, reading, and writing Chinese.
I am grateful to an amazing department that has carried me this far into my development. As a Black person, I am privileged to have been able to learn during these years in a welcoming department that never excluded me as a learner. I will use these experiences in my future here at the College as a graduate student next year, on my way to becoming a teacher in bilingual education to future generations.
French and Francophone Studies & Linguistics
I have greatly enjoyed my time in William & Mary's French and Francophone Studies program. I feel that I have improved in both written and spoken French, and that I have acquired a much better understanding of Francophone culture. The program was often hard work, but usually very rewarding. I especially enjoyed Prof. Lee-Ferrand's course "Medieval Shenanigans," Prof. Brehm's course on audio-vision in the modern era, and former Prof. Rabalais's course on North American Francophony; however, each course I took had something special and excellent about it. Next year, I will be attending graduate school to get my teaching certification in French and Latin. Je vous remercie tous!
Russian and Post-Soviet Studies
My time as a student in The Russian and Post-Soviet Studies program has been the highlight of my William & Mary undergraduate education. As a sophomore transfer student, I was elated to be welcomed into the RPSS community with open arms. From my experiences with having extra language practice at weekly Russian Teas to participating and later organizing the Russian Language Olympics, I can say that the RPSS program is truly one of a kind. Not only have I had the opportunity to immerse myself with the Russian language, but I've also been provided with a comprehensive education surrounding Russian culture, history, and politics. One of my favorite parts about being a student in the RPSS program has been serving as the Head Editor of the student-run Russian language newspaper Gazeta. While transforming the newspaper's formatting from paper copies to a digital website surely was a challenge, I saw this transition as an opportunity to exercise my creative, organizational, and leadership skills despite our newspaper tradition's switch which was necessary for a global pandemic. I was also fortunate enough to be able to go on the 2019 William & Mary Study Abroad Program in St. Petersburg, where I made priceless memories that I will cherish forever. I know that I will apply what I've learned about Russia, myself, and about others through the RPSS program well after I graduate!
Hispanic Studies & History
My name is Natalie Ronan and I'm graduating from William & Mary with a double major in History and Hispanic Studies. I loved my time in the Hispanic Studies department because I was able to learn so much from my professors as well as other students. This department is incredible in how it encourages people to share their different cultural experiences and encourages students to step outside of their comfort zones. I feel like I have not only become a better spanish speaker but a better person through my courses. Thank you and congratulations to all of my classmates. Lastly, I want to thank my professors, particularly Profesoras Buck and Cate-Arries who were so supportive during this last, challenging year. The time I spent in the Hispanic Studies department in Williamsburg and in Sevilla will inspire me for years to come.
Japanese Studies & Computer Science
German Studies & International Relations
Studying German Studies at William & Mary provided an amazing variety of educational and cultural experiences that helped set the course for my future plans. While improving my German language skills, the German major also introduced me to some of my best friends and helped make my college experience one of fun and intellectual stimulation.
My German professors are phenomenal people and educators and have played incredibly important roles in my education. Whether reading children’s literature with Professor Burney, studying abroad in Potsdam with Professor Gülly, watching German horror movies with Professor Taylor, discussing colonialism with Professor Ellis, or reading Kafka with Professor Leventhal, I was guaranteed to expand my horizons and improve my German language skills. As a Teaching Assistant for four semesters, the German major improved my communication skills and allowed me to interact with and help dozens of other students as they figured out the basics of the German language. The Potsdam summer program provided an amazing experience with a fast-paced language curriculum and a diverse array of German cultural activities.
My German skills helped get me a summer job at a deli near my home due to my ability to pronounce the names of different meats and cheeses. And I am confident there will be many more opportunities that come about due to the German Studies Program. Regardless of what I end up doing after William & Mary, I know my German major will help me navigate the post-college world.
French & Francophone Studies
I started my college experience never planning to major in a language. Though I had studied French throughout high school and had a deep passion for it, it wasn’t until the end of my sophomore year that I even considered pursuing French and Francophone Studies. I owe my decision to major in French to Dr. Magali Compan and her wonderful guidance during my time in the 2019 Montpellier summer study abroad program. That summer was one of the best experiences of my life. It started me on this incredible journey to explore the beauty, the complexity, and the pure joie de vivre that is the Francophone world.
My favorite part about French at William & Mary is undeniably the community surrounding it. I lived in the French House for two years, and I grew very close to my classmates, spending class after class in semester after semester together. From deepening my understanding of history and contemporary events, to introducing me to post-colonial discourse, to challenging me to reimagine the power of art and literature as a force for social good, majoring in French was the best decision I could have made.
Though the next step in my journey will take me to law school in pursuit of my JD, I will forever treasure the memories and friendships I made here. Merci à tous!
I entered William & Mary with few future plans besides continuing to study Chinese language. Through my college career I experimented with many possible paths, but my dedication to Chinese was always an anchor. By studying abroad in Beijing 2019 I was able to not only grow as a student but also learn how to apply my knowledge independently and without a safety net. This valuable experience has encouraged me to job search within China as I am more confident and wish to hone my professional communication skills.
I have so many fond memories of early mornings in Washington Hall and the professors who guided my education. My taste in literature has been irreversibly changed by Prof. Lü who introduced me to the works of Mo Yan and Liu Cixin. And I will greatly miss the hilarity of my senior seminar class with Prof. Vierthaler and graduating classmates. I ended my last language class this year with Prof. Su, the same professor who taught my first ever freshman class and watched my proficiency from beginning to end.
Senior year brought some changes to my future career plans. I started taking chemistry, museum studies, and textile curation internships. As it stands now I will be pursuing an MS in museum conservation, hopefully with a specialty in Chinese decorative arts. My honor’s thesis within the department marries my love of both material culture and Chinese culture, which would not have been possible without the guidance of my advisor, Professor Hill.
International Relations & Russian Language and Literature Minor
I have had innumerable amazing experiences through the WM Hispanic Studies department, starting spring my freshman year with my COLL 150 with my advisor, Prof. Cate-Arries, who took our class to Madrid over spring break to study the city’s unique culture and history firsthand. That opportunity, coupled with a literature class with Prof. Sanchis-Sinisterra the same semester, cemented my love for Hispanic Studies and I declared my major the following fall while enjoying classes on Indigenous Cultures with Prof. Serna and the early modern Hispanic world with Prof. Terukina. I spent my sophomore spring semester studying abroad through the Sevilla program, where I had the opportunity to travel, improve my Spanish, make lifelong friends, and teach ESL classes; an experience that confirmed my vocation of teaching and prompted me to become a TA for the Hispanic Studies department upon my return to William & Mary in the fall of my junior year. I’ve had the opportunity to take so many incredible classes and to meet so many wonderful people as a part of this program, and I will take the lessons I’ve learned as a Hispanic Studies major with me as I begin my teaching career here in Virginia after graduation. ¡Mil gracias a todos que me han apoyado durante mi tiempo como estudiante en estudios hispánicos!
Hispanic Studies & Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies
I am immeasurably grateful to the Hispanic Studies department for all of the opportunities it has presented me with during my time as an undergraduate. This program took me out of the country for the first time when I participated in the Cadiz summer program in 2019. Through that program, I met amazing friends, saw beautiful sites, and completed the first of several lengthy research projects with the department. I could not believe my luck when, less than a year later, I was offered the opportunity to travel with WM again on a trip to Guatemala to study the internal armed conflict there. That class stands out as an absolute favorite of undergrad, in no small part due to the unique opportunities to engage with course content in a multilingual and hands-on format.
As if this were not enough, I have also been blessed with the opportunity to TA in Hispanic Studies 3 times and have delighted in the experience every time (yes, even when I had to teach online). The experience affirmed my commitment to a quality and equitable education. For that reason, I will be staying in Williamsburg for the next year to pursue my MAEd in ESL and Bilingual Education at the W&M School of Education.
Thanks to the guidance of incredible HISP faculty, particularly professors Cate-Arries, Carrión, and Varra, I have been able to pursue projects at WM focused on equity, education, and justice. Of all of my accomplishments, however, my proudest are the relationships I have formed with other MLL students and faculty. These people have held me up through COVID, thesis writing, and everything else the world could throw at us. We have grown, changed, learned, and grown some more. I am proud to call you my friends, mentors, and family. Thanks for everything!
French and Francophone Studies & Linguistics
Even though I came to W&M knowing I wanted to major in French & Francophone Studies, I had no idea just how much time I would be spending in the Modern Languages department. But after trying a German class freshman year, I was hooked! I was thrilled to be simultaneously studying advanced stylistics in one language and the most basic grammar of another, all while learning about the variety of cultures within the Francophone Studies and German Studies umbrellas. I particularly loved being able to join the close-knit community in the German House and to dip into study-abroad with W&M’s summer Potsdam program.
My experiences during my first two years in the MDLL department prepared me to spend a semester studying and working in Strasbourg. I am so grateful for the time I spent immersed in Alsatian culture, as well as having been able to travel (and successfully communicate!) in France, Germany, and Switzerland. Even over the past year, my MDLL courses have remained a source of joy, growth, and community. I’m looking forward to continuing to use the skills I’ve learned in the MDLL department as I pursue my M.A. in Translation at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Merci and vielen Dank!
Chinese Studies & Psychology
Growing up half Chinese in a town where no one looked like me, I never felt compelled to learn about my culture. I didn't learn Chinese as a kid, although by the time my family moved to Beijing in 2014 I had picked up a few words from my 奶奶 (Grandmother) and 爷爷 (Grandfather): 你好 (Hello)，饺子 (Dumpling)，馄饨 (Wonton)，谢谢 (Thank you)，and 再见 (Bye). I never imagined I would spend my formative years in the city center of Beijing, but the experience helped me reconnect to my roots and discover the beauty of Chinese culture and language (and Boba). By the time I was accepted to W&M, I had been to the Great Wall some dozen times and learned 一点儿普通话. I chose to continue my study of Mandarin at W&M, hoping to return one day and be able to understand even the thickest of Beijing accents. Double majoring in Chinese and Psychology was very challenging, but I loved learning about Chinese history and culture. I especially enjoyed learning alongside talented classmates who pushed me to study harder. My favorite experience was when Professor Calvin Hui took our whole class to Peter Chang’s! 让我失望的是 studying abroad at Beijing Normal university was cancelled, but I hope to return to Beijing one day and hopefully run into some W&M alumni— 世界其实很小！
Incredibile—that is the word that first comes to mind when reflecting on my experience with the MLL department and all the wonderful people I have had the chance to meet through it. Even from afar, Washington Hall has been my home these last four years. From juggling classes in three different languages in my first year to falling in love with research during a summer research project on Slow Food, deciphering an entire book in Italian for the first time, analyzing an eighteenth-century French text in Swem’s Special Collections, learning to trust my judgement while grading Italian exams and essays, studying abroad alongside Italian students in Perugia, exploring Italian film, diving into theory and the Red Brigades’ documents for my honors thesis, navigating the mysteries of Zoom to share my love for the Italian language with my students, and listening to protest music for an independent study, these past years have been an amazing and unforgettable adventure. It is thanks to MLL’s dedicated faculty that I have grown as a student, teacher, scholar, and person.
I extend a particularly gigantic thank you to Professors Ferrarese, Mattavelli, Seger and Paolino for their gentle guidance, never-ending patience, unwavering support, and infectious enthusiasm. Thank you especially for cultivating my curiosity. I will sorely miss all our engaging conversations!
I look forward to sharing all I have learned from you with my peers and students as I pursue a PhD in Romance Studies at Cornell University this fall. There is no doubt that Italian—and all the other languages I have had the privilege to study among such inspiring individuals—will continue to play a central role in my life.Grazie mille per tutto—siete davvero un’immensa ispirazione! Спасибо большое, merci beaucoup, muchas gracias, herzlichen Dank, and thank you!
French and Francophone Studies & Psychology
The reason I kept taking French classes at W&M and ultimately decided to pursue it as my major was because of the wonderful professors and peers that made learning feel like a community conversation. I genuinely feel that my experience in the department has shaped me into a more humble and self-assured global citizen.
Through my classes, I have explored themes including the paradoxes of metropolitan French discourse, the struggles and solidarity of the working class, the justified rage of the subaltern, and the use of art as a tool of resistance. This year, I am writing an Honors thesis on elite pathways within the baccalauréat. The knowledge and skills I have gained from my experiences as a French major have opened my eyes to wider societal issues and remind me of my obligation to contribute to lasting structural change.
In Spring 2020 I got to study abroad at IAU Aix-en-Provence, where I was a student in the French Honors Program. There, I was exposed to a diverse array of artistic expression, from the 30,000-year-old Chauvet cave paintings to modern-day graffiti art in Marseille. Although half of the semester was spent on Zoom in my dining room instead of in Aix, I am still grateful for the time I had. And I will never forget walking alone through the empty streets of Paris during the country’s very first lockdown!
In addition to my B.A. in French and Francophone Studies, I will be graduating with a B.S. in Psychology. In the future I plan to ultimately pursue a graduate degree that will give me the tools to transform the American education system.
Hispanic Studies & International Relations
French & Francophone Studies
Chemistry & Russian Language and Literature Minor
I graduated from William & Mary in December with a major in chemistry and Russian language and literature. I was a Fulbright grant recipient in 2020 and, COVID permitting, plan to travel to Russia in September of this year to conduct research on Russian remembrance of the Great Patriotic War. Currently, I work as an intern at Verge Scientific Communications, doing public relations work for emerging biotech companies. In my free time, I enjoy weightlifting, playing Scrabble, and dreaming of all the things I will do post COVID.
French and Francophone Studies & Economics
I am thankful to have been able to pursue my French & Francophone Studies major alongside my major in Economics. I never could have expected how classes in Francophone literature would motivate my interest in pursuing economic research here at W&M and hopefully into the future. I credit my experience in the French & Francophone studies program for not only allowing me to grow academically, but also personally. Spending two months in Montpellier in Spring 2020 allowed me to push my language skills and make lasting connections with a diverse group of people I would never have been able to meet otherwise. I know I will always look back on my time in French & Francophone studies with happy memories of wonderful professors as well as classmates and friends who made my W&M experience so special. I am looking forward to doing public sector consulting at Grant Thornton in Washington, D.C. next year, and start working on getting transferred to their Montpellier office one day!
Hispanic Studies & Biology
Coming into my first semester at William and Mary with the goal of attending medical school 4 years later, I initially viewed Hispanic Studies as a bonus to my education in Biology, fully believing that I would spend more time researching cells, molecules, and atoms than the Spanish language and Hispanic cultures across the globe. Ironically enough, the opposite would prove to be true and Hispanic Studies guided my outlook, goals, and desires in a more meaningful way than Biology ever could. Through the department, I have had incredible opportunities across the globe to study the intersections between culture and medicine. To name a few, independent research on the sociology of bariatric surgery in Spain and years spent volunteering as a medical Spanish interpreter. These experiences, in addition to many other classes, seminars, and interactions helped guide me the San Juan Bautista School of Medicine in Caguas Puerto Rico, where I will use both my majors in Biology and Hispanic Studies to pursue an MD degree with a new goal in helping to serve those historically marginalized by western medicine and its systems. While I am quite nervous and excited to begin this new chapter in my life, I will always look back and treasure the time spent and relationships developed in Hispanic Studies.
Before I came to William and Mary, I wasn't really sure what I wanted to do with myself. After bouncing around a bit, I realized I was getting the most enjoyment out of the East Asian and Japanese history / culture classes I was taking. Fast forward a few short years, and here we are! The Japanese Studies program has been an extremely rewarding experience for me, and being able to grow my passion for languages as well as history and film & media studies through so many fascinating courses has been wonderful. While I wasn't able to pursue a semester of study abroad for obvious reasons, I'm hopeful about being able to visit Japan soon, whether it be scholastically or professionally. To Professors Cronin, Sasaki, Kato, Kitamura, Suzuki, as well as the guest speakers, fellow students, and everyone else in the department, thank you very much, and I wish you all the best!
Hispanic Studies & Sociology
My name is Natalia Wyatt and I am a graduating senior double majoring in Sociology with a concentration in globalization and Hispanic Studies. I was particularly interested in the intersection that Sociology and Hispanic Studies provides, as I am particularly passionate in understanding the phenomenon of immigration, assimilation, language acquisition in relation to Latin America. During my sophomore year, I enrolled in the course "Comparative Race Relations" where I learned and read for the first time about concepts such as 'racial colorism' which are existent mostly in Latin American and South American countries. This phenomenon contributes to the racism, discrimination and racial hierarchies existent within these countries and provides a framework for the perpetuation of future racism as increasing racial and ethnic mixtures occur worldwide. Additionally, during the spring semester of my junior year (Spring 2020) I was fortunate to participate in the study abroad program in Seville, Spain. In Seville, I was able to enroll in a course at 'La Universidad de Pablo Olavide' called "Sociologia de Las Edades" which I took with the Spanish students at the university. Through this course I was able to further learn how sociological factors play a large role in the intergenerational living that occurs within European society, as well as understand the insurgence of cultural and political movements related to women's rights and in similar fashion, the transition to independization and higher educational attainment of younger generations.
Looking forward, I am planning on taking part in a teaching abroad program (Northern American Language and Cultural Ambassadors Program) in Spain, and I hope to then pursue a legal career in the future working with Latin American immigrants or a related position where I am able to aid Latinx immigrants/ Hispanic families and provide services, resources and access to safe and healthy living situations.