The best I can say is: umm, interviewers ask about French with interest and I think it’s helped me get most all of the jobs I’ve had.
That sort of thing bores me to tears, so instead let me talk about what studying French was like. In a word: joy.
To borrow Mme Pairet’s turn of phrase, French was my playground.
During class I got to …
- make a pop-up book of gnomes in lieu of a paper on the Hundred Years’ War
- 3-d print squirrels
- bake apple cake for a final video project
- have a witch week
- eat brownies while blindfolded
- submit midterm answers in (tacky) rhymed verse
- go outside to watch street breakdancing
- and, let it never be forgotten: beat Kristen at “un, deux, trois, soleil!”
Besides the hijinks, the Department’s “anything you like” attitude did let me do traditionally-constructive things.
I joined an early incarnation of language exchanges, and started to think “hmmm we could use math to match partners.” Poor Mme Shaw took my out-of-the-blue 8-page very-math-y email with enthusiasm. Charles and Faith were generous enough to join me, and together we created an online partner-matching system. We were allowed complete, heady freedom.
I could go on and on about the things I discovered (did you know that there was a medieval dialect of French written in Hebrew characters? of the embroiled imbrication of hagiographies and Halloween creatures? that Rimbaud and a Jewish anarchist poet from Chicago were separated by but one degree? anything of the history of the color blue? read Pastoureau!). You get to pick what you’re interested in and mold it to fit the class ... or the reverse.
What I hope to convey is: take French! Don’t be afraid by the fancy author names, or in thinking you can’t write. Some of the kindest, caring, most helpful professors are here, and they will teach you. And if you’re still undecided ...
Hanna Fechtner (Class of 2020)
Writing an honors thesis is an incredible opportunity to learn more about a specific topic that you may be curious about. I chose to write my thesis on the decline of French dairy farms as a result of large corporation competition, lack of governmental protection, lack of interest in the field and, consumer behaviors. While participating in the Microbiology and Culture of Cheese and Wine course in Cluny through Rutgers I was able to visit multiple dairy farms and producers. I left the programming having a profound amount of respect for the family farms but wondered why their products were not the ones I saw when grocery shopping in France. Thanks to my participation in the honors thesis program I was able to not only understand how the dairy industry works in France, but how it can also be applied in the US. I am truly grateful for the opportunity to be able to study under Madame Tamas and will now be able to include on my resume my honors achievement! I initially chose to study French cultural studies at Rutgers University because I did not want to lose what I already learned from High School. French was a new way for me to express myself and helped me to feel more attached to foreign cultures. After taking several courses and deciding on studying abroad during my sophomore year in Paris, I decided to major in French. The courses I have completed have allowed me to study many different areas of French from literature, to grammar, to business! The classes I took prior to my semester abroad prepared me to study alongside French students at La Sorbonne Nouvelle and truly put my language skills to the challenge. Without my professors and classes, I would not have been able to appreciate France as much as I did. Being able to travel abroad and speak with locals, and go shopping like a native is something everyone should experience. My other major is in nutritional sciences with a concentration in food service administration. I hope to work with Sodexo at an American company for the near future but eventually get matched with a Sodexo company in France and settle there. Getting a degree in French has opened more doors for me. It is important to remember that there is more to the world than the US, by studying another language you are allowing yourself to more opportunities abroad!
Natalie Migliore (Class of 2020)
Looking retrospectively at my undergraduate years, I am hard-pressed to think of a better decision than having chosen French as one of my majors. The Department is staffed by exceptionally understanding, generous, and brilliant scholars of myriad areas of expertise, ranging from history and literature, to theatre, fashion, and gender and sexuality.The Department championed my work as a student for the entirety of my three years at Rutgers, and allowed me to design a curriculum around my interests and strengths. By majoring in French, I was able to study in Paris for six months, where I discovered my passion for the world of art and art history. After taking courses in photography, art history, and documentary filmmaking--all in French--I was launched, unexpectedly, but wholeheartedly, into the museum world, and have since worked at such institutions as the Met and MoMA.Through various courses, programs, and extracurriculars, I expanded my circle of friends. Together, we braved exams, traveled extensively, and when we forgot how to conjugate one of any number of irregular verbs--this being French, after all-- we often did so together.Studying a language as widely-spoken as French, was not only useful for travel and making international friends that I keep up with to this day, but it forced me to keep an open mind, embrace challenges, and step out of my comfort zone. I leave this program with a newfound admiration for the French language and culture, and as I begin graduate school in London, I await my many visits to the city where it all began for me.
Samuel L. Vladimirsky (class of '19)
Artist & Documentary Filmmaker
Curatorial Intern, Department of Photography - MOMA
University College London, M.A. History of Art
I started learning French in 6th grade and it was my favorite subject. I knew that I was nervous to continue it in college because I wasn't sure if I would be able to balance the workload with an intensive Cell Biology and Neuroscience major on the premed track but it was truly the best decision I made in my undergraduate career. My French classes were taught by brilliant professors who taught French to me in a way that was personal, entertaining, and never intimidating. My French literature classes were a welcome respite from my science classes because they taught me how to communicate effectively, write more conscientiously, and familiarize myself with another culture. Even in my neuroscience classes, I learned that multilingualism can yield many cognitive benefits that can impact your brain for the rest of your life! More practically, my French minor helped me to distinguish myself from other candidates in my interviews and personal statement for medical school. I was able to talk about how I used my French knowledge to communicate with a French-speaking patient as a volunteer in the Emergency Room at Robert Wood Johnson. I also used my French knowledge when I volunteered with a refugee resettlement organization to comfort a refugee mother from Malawi whose infant daughter just went through open heart surgery at New York Presbyterian Hospital. My French classes taught me profound lessons about human emotion and cultural sensitivity that I was able to apply in the clinical setting and communicate to the admissions committee. The small class sizes allowed me to really get to know my professors as well, who also wrote me recommendation letters for medical school, and more importantly became some of my closest mentors. It is my pleasure to announce that I will be starting medical school a year early at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School where I know I will continue to apply the lessons I learned through pursuing French at Rutgers.
Robert Wood Johnson Medical School / 7 year BA/MD Program
When you decide to major in French at Rutgers, you embark on an incredible journey through past generations of French artists. The bigger your imagination, the more vividly the French culture invigorates you. I lived through these artists' pasts, and will see the world differently because of it. I feel like I have a more complete understanding of the world; something that is arguably lacking for majors in STEM disciplines. Even though, I find joy in studying physics, a major in the humanities strengthens that joy by increasing my capacity to get more out of life. I also feel much more open minded, considering not only the transition to Art from Science, but also studying among a very high female to male ratio. I would say that Jean Claude Eugene is the ideal example of the potential of a French speaking scientist, someone who is known for his "clarity of style sharp minded views and well performed experiments". I believe the fluency of the language is better for thinking. I am very glad I studied abroad in Paris over the summer. I visited as many different places as I could have, and I met a lot of unique people. The department was very helpful and made the experience very enjoyable! My interdisciplinary thesis was also very special for me, "La lumière émise par des amas globulaires détruits situés au centre galactique": Analyses et simulations scientifiques et poétiques", because I had a space to be as imaginative as I wanted without the constraints of traditional education. I feel part of a very special group of people that have connected the highly imaginative thoughts of poets with the logical constrained theories by physicists. Best of luck at Rutgers :)
Bachelors in Science: Mechanical Engineering major, Astrophysics major, and French - Literary Studies major
Currently an astrophysics PhD candidate at Iowa State University.
Deciding to make French one of my majors was a pivotal decision, after years of casually learning French throughout my pre-college years I decided to cement my interest in the language and pursue it formally. Doing so has opened a multitude of opportunities for me, it has allowed me to study abroad at one of the world’s preeminent political science schools - Sciences Po Paris, it has given me access to a variety of competitive and international internships, and most importantly allowed me to connect with those who speak French. These experiences have provided me with a fulfilling college experience and have prepared me for the professional world. Most recently, my French major has helped me land a job as a Strategy Consultant at Navigant Consulting, which is a mid-sized multi-national consulting firm. I will be a consultant with the new group called "Financial Services Advisory and Compliance" based out of New York. My projects will align with major US and European financial institutions and involve regular travel to Europe. As a management consultant, I am tasked to communicate complex situations to business executives, by learning French I have honed my critical writing skills, exercised my ability to think quickly and communicate clearly. My ability is attributed to the outstanding faculty in the French department who are genuinely invested in the success of their students. They are a group of dedicated educators who challenge and inspire students in and out of the classroom. I will always hold fond memories of my time studying French at Rutgers.
BA Political Science and French
Consultant - Navigant Consulting
During my undergraduate years at Rutgers University, I majored in Political Science and minored in French. My original motivation to minor in French was mostly to not lose all of the progress I had made in my high school language classes. Little did I know, my French Studies at Rutgers University would end up having a much bigger impact on my life. The various classes, events, and projects offered by the French Department have introduced me to the true impact of language and intercultural exchange and inspired in me a passion for taking part in the development of language programs in both the United States and abroad. One of the most interesting and fulfilling paths that French at Rutgers has introduced me to was TAPIF. TAPIF stands for Teaching Assistant Program in France and it is an organization that works under the French Department of Education, allowing native English speakers with French proficiency to work at public schools throughout France. Through TAPIF, I get to directly work in public education and participate in language and culture exchange with my students. Of course, it also gives me the chance to integrate in France's culture and language which is an entirely unique and exciting personal experience. It is one of the best opportunities I have had for professional growth and I am looking forward to bringing back everything I have learned to the United States and implementing it in my future graduate studies in Education Policy.
Valentina Melikhova 2018
currently TAPIF Assistante d'Anglais for the Académie de Strasbourg (Ribeauville)
French Minor/Political Science Major
Firstly, I am truly grateful for all the exposés that my French professors require in their classes. French does not come natural to me and to be confident or at least to fake confidence in order to present in another language is empowering...after it's over. I've realized that law is also a foreign language. It is fused with French, Latin and who knows what else but if I get 'cold called' as in if I am randomly asked to present to the class about a case and its legal jargon, I can do so and fake confidence. It is the numerous exposés and the amazing and supportive French professors that have gotten me where I am today. Secondly, I also now appreciate the 92% being an A which is unlike other classes as it pushed me to always do my best and not submit mediocre work which in the legal world could get me fired or even disbarred. Thirdly, writing a thesis in French or at least translating is such a feat that once you've completed it, grad school should be a breeze. Lastly, I truly love and miss the entire French department-they've become a supportive family of which I'm extremely grateful.
French & Political Science, B.A. May 2016
J.D. expected May, 2019
Georgetown University Law Center
Ever since 7th grade when my French teacher walked into the room and said "Bonjour!", I have been totally in love! The French language and culture are so beautiful. I knew that I had to make them an important part of my learning career, and Rutgers was the best place to do so. I majored in Psychology and minored in French studies and it was the best decision I ever made! The professors that make up the French Department at Rutgers are amazing. They are passionate about what they teach, which makes the learning experience so much better. Every class is different, the teaching is fresh, and the atmosphere provokes an excitement for learning. What I learned in the classroom not only from the professors, but from the other students as well really enhanced my development. The professors are there to see you succeed and really master the language as well as the culture, and I am so grateful to have been a part of that!
Audrey Del Campo Roach
BA Psychology/ French, Rutgers Class of 2015
M.Div, Princeton Theological Seminary, expected 2019
I fell in love with the French language when I took my first French class during my freshman year in high school. Since then, I have always tried to find opportunities to deepen my knowledge of the French language and culture. During my time at Rutgers, I was a Political Science major and a French minor. Looking back at my college experience, some of my fondest academic memories were taking my French literature and theater classes offered by Mesdames Pairet and Tamas and twice participating in the French department's summer exchange program in Paris. After college, I pursued a Master's degree in International Economics and Relations at Johns Hopkins University, which I graduated from in 2018. Since then, I have conducted an internship at the United Nations worked on a short-term project for the French Ministry of Education, and occupied a research and teaching position at the Université de Nantes. I greatly value everything I learned from my language classes, teachers, and the resources made available by Rutgers' French Department.
Political Science Major
I have a sort of insatiable curiosity about why things are the way they are, particularly with regard to language. The French faculty at Rutgers helped me to explore and expand this curiosity and were consistently supportive throughout my time there. Toward the end of my first year, I met Prof. Deprez, to whom I owe a great debt of gratitude. After joining her lab as an Aresty Undergraduate Research Assistant at the start of my sophomore year, I was able to engage with the French language in a totally new way. Research became an integral part of my French Linguistics and Linguistics double major. My dual-department senior capstone project was an investigation of the role of intonation and context in the interpretation of ambiguous negative expressions like “personne ne mange rien”. With the support of the French faculty, as well as generous grants from the French Embassy in the US and the School of Arts and Sciences Honors Program, I was able to go to France to collect the data for this project. My experiences as a student in the French classrooms at Rutgers have also helped me to feel more confident as I start this year as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Bulgaria, where I hope to infect my students with the same curiosity for language.
Double Major French & Linguistics: Graduated, January 2016
Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Bulgaria, 2016-2017
Upon graduating in May 2015 with a degree in French Literature, I was able to obtain a job through the French government as a teaching assistant in Reims. Though, I loved my job as a Language Assistant, I had an itch to discover a different part of the world. It is then when I decided to explore the Asian continent whilst volunteering and working as a teacher in countries such as; Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and China. It was in Asia where I revisited a project I started in France while I was studying abroad in Paris (2013.) Originally, the project was funded through a scholarship granted by Study Abroad and then changed concepts once I had taken a course on Montaigne with Professor Cornilliat. What I learned in that course inspired my career to what it is today. I am now cycling the world as a Fine Art Photographer with my project, FULL DISCLOTHESURE. The project is black and white photographs of people in the intimacy of their own bathrooms around the world. With over 20 countries shot in and over 80 participants, I have cycled over two continents and will continue to do so until I have gone through every single one to capture at least one local in each country. FULL DISCLOTHESURE has been exhibited in Italy, Malaysia, China and Mexico, and can be seen online.
Natalia Del Rio
B.A. in French 2015
To double major in violin performance and French literature is no small feat, and I would not have survived it were it not for the unflaggingly supportive faculty of the French Department. In my blissful, all-too-brief 4 years there, I fiddled and trumpeted my way through French chansons with Prof. Eisenzweig, skimmed 18th-century Haitian newspapers with Prof. Larrier, and, thanks to Prof. Shaw, organized a lecture-recital with Metropolitan Opera artists. To them and others, I owe a great debt of gratitude: my senior-year thesis, cultivated in a senior seminar in Caribbean francophone literature, brought me to France, China, Romania, Turkey, and, finally, to the Cambridges, where I was able to pursue studies in musicology.There are those who will caution against the study of foreign languages, and I pity the fools. The study of the French language has both broadened my intellect, permeating unexpectedly into la vie quotidienne, and allowed me to enter Harvard's PhD program in Historical Musicology laden with memories and one language requirement lighter.
BM, French & Violin Performance, 2013
MPhil, Music, University of Cambridge, 2014
PhD Student in Historical Musicology at Harvard, 2015
No matter the direction one plans to take with his/her career, studying the humanities is richly rewarding. As a French major, my communication skills – both oral and written – improved dramatically, as I learned the art of rhetoric in the context of a new language and culture. I can say with honesty that every professor I have met in the French department had a vested interest in my development as a student: they encouraged me to consider ideas from new perspectives, guided me as I refined my authorial voice, and even mentored me when I expressed interest in doing independent research. Moreover, the academic advising within the French major is excellent; advisers helped me balance a rigorous scientific course load alongside the major requirements. I am happy to announce that I achieved early admission into my top choice medical school and look forward to bringing the language and critical thinking skills that I gained through this major into the world of medicine.
BA, French / Medical Degree Program, 2014
RWJ Medical School, expected 2017
I came to Rutgers in a bit of a shaky state: I had taken some time off from college and had decided quite whimsically to be a French major after having cycled through mathematics and economics as choices. My decided combination clicked quite readily, however, and I found in Rutgers' French Department a substantive approach to the major. The originality and creativity encouraged in students' work is matched by the faculty's enthusiasm, which allowed me to find a certain confidence that I lacked coming in. I do believe that a fostered courage and comfort in a student's chosen major and field is crucial for any graduate, no matter where he or she may head after senior year. I found exactly that in the French Department, along with the necessary literary knowledge and skills. But a program that is only rigorous can feel cold; Rutgers' French program, on the other hand, has a warmth that complements the knowledge it offers.
BA, French, 2014
Ph.D. student in Romance Languages at U. Penn, beginning Fall 2014
It wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that my time with the French department at Rutgers has been the most influential academic experience in my undergraduate career. Through all of the courses and major/minor permutations that I tried on, the literary and analytic approach that was developed since my very first French course crucially informed my four years at Rutgers. I am confident, moreover, that as I leave New Brunswick, the skills that I developed as an undergrad will serve as a backbone in whatever I undertake. I consider myself very fortunate to have had the chance to work with a quality department and with its incredibly supportive and immensely intelligent faculty – I don't think I would've been able to accomplish all that I did and have such a positive experience elsewhere!
Ye (Sam) Lee
BA French and Linguistics, 2014
English Teaching Assistant in a French High School (Pertuis, France, 2014-2015)
MSE in Computer Science/Natural Language Processing, Johns Hopkins, beginning Fall 2015
As a recent graduate, I'm very happy with my decision to major in French Literature in addition to Biology. During my four years at Rutgers, I had an opportunity to take a wide variety of courses within the French Department, all of which have contributed to my growth as a student and expanded my critical thinking skills. The instruction that I received from my French professors has significantly improved my oral, written and reading abilities not only in French, but also in English. In addition to learning about the literary movements, history and culture of France, I learned how to think creatively, read discerningly and write with intention.
By practicing reading and writing in French, I also gained the necessary skills to analyze biomedical texts and compose research papers in my science courses. After giving numerous presentations and speaking in front of my classmates in French, I have gained more confidence to speak in any public setting in either language. Outside the classroom, I have used these valuable skills when writing résumés, preparing for interviews and applying to Physician Assistant programs. In fact, I firmly believe that this major made me stand out as a well-rounded applicant and contributed to my acceptance into the Rutgers Physician Assistant Program. More importantly, I believe that I will be able to communicate more effectively with my patients in the future because my literature courses have taught me to perceive subtleties in language and human interaction, a skill that science alone cannot teach. The French major has given me vital tools for self-expression that I will continue to use in my personal life and beyond.
BA French and Biological Sciences, 2014
Physician Assistant Program Class of 2017
Rutgers School of Health Related Professions
In hopes of having a career in the medical field, I decided to pursue a biological sciences major at Rutgers University, but all too quickly I realized that I could not leave my deep love of the French language, literature and culture behind. Though picking up another major was one of the more difficult things I've done, it's payed off in more ways than I could have anticipated. It kept me sane and intellectually stimulated for four years by giving me a break from my hectic science courses as well as providing me with so many rich and engaging conversations and theories that it allowed me to challenge myself. As I am now beginning what could be considered the most critical point in my life, I can honestly admit that my French major still influences a significant part of my everyday life as student in Harvard Medical School. From learning about medical terminology with Latin based words to conversing with the immigrant Creole-speaking population here in Boston, which makes up about 11% of the total, I can sincerely admit with great pleasure that pursuing french at Rutgers University was one of my greatest accomplishments as well as a gift that keeps on giving.
BA French and Biological Sciences, 2012
DMD Harvard, 2016
Majoring in French was one of the best ways I (unknowingly) prepared myself for graduate school. I came to Rutgers with a vague appreciation for French culture and left with a solid grounding in the nuances of the language, a strong grasp of French literary history and a good sense of the social issues facing contemporary France.
I doubt that my application to graduate school would have been as strong had it not been for the opportunities that the French department offered me as an undergrad. Four years of rigorous language training capped off by a self-designed senior thesis certainly gave me a competitive edge when applying to graduate programs, many of which, I learned later, actively seek out students with a demonstrated commitment to learning languages.
Although my graduate work is in modern Armenian literature in the Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian and African Studies at Columbia, French is an essential tool that I use constantly in my research. If I didn't know French, so much of the scholarship in my field would be unintelligible to me. Many seem to think that studying French is limiting or impractical, but, in reality, it is a skill that is vital in a wide array of disciplines. I am very grateful to the devoted French department faculty for helping me cultivate this knowledge and credit them, in large part, with making my time at Rutgers so extraordinary.
BA, French and Middle Eastern Studies, 2011
MA, Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian and African Studies, Columbia University, 2014
I transferred to Rutgers from NYU in the spring of 2013. Coming from a university with a student body even larger than that of Rutgers, I was prepared to fight to be heard and to be helped by administrators while I worked through the process of transferring credits and choosing a major. The French department, however, did everything in its power to ease my transition. I felt welcomed into the department and the professors and advisors made me feel genuinely important to them. Professor Shaw recommended that I spend the summer semester of 2013 in Paris in order to catch me up to the upper-level courses in the major since I only had a few semesters at Rutgers to complete all the requirements. The great group of students and professors that participated in the Summer in Paris program provided me with a world class academic experience.
Having now fallen completely in love with the city and the language, I went back to New Jersey with my semester abroad application already been complete for the following spring. I returned to Paris through the MICEFA exchange program, which was the ultimate step to understanding French culture and distancing myself from the nurturing environment that is the French department. Working closely with both Professor Shaw, my NJ-based advisor, and Dr. Catherine Healey here in France, I was able to explore new areas of French studies while still satisfying my major requirements. I had to freedom to explore new domains while still staying true to the curriculum guidelines.
But now that I've actually received my degree from Rutgers, a retrospective view of my time with the French department has shown me that I not only expanded my knowledge of a foreign language, but I was given the opportunity to explore the world, experience different cultures and come to better understand myself through it all. Because of the guidance and opportunities that were afforded to me through the French department, I am now living and working full-time in Paris.
BA, French, 2014