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    Department Spotlights

    Robin Moussa

    Robin Moussa
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    Robin Moussa

    Liberal Arts Major(s): Criminology, Philosophy
    Minor: French
    Hometown: Gettysburg, Pennsylvania

    What was the best part of your experience?

    The best part of my experience was having the opportunity to form relationships with people from all over the world. I got so close with my French host family during my stay (and we're still in touch!) as well as with other language students from China, Japan, Brazil, Canada, Saudi Arabia, and more. It is amazing to learn a language surrounded by others with whom you can only communicate in your target language and who have entirely different backgrounds and experiences. Despite our differences, we all had so much in common beyond learning French, and the world feels a lot smaller now.

    Knowing a second language and having a more global perspective has changed me as a person and is invaluable regardless of the field I pursue

    How did this experience impact you academically?

    This study abroad experience allowed me to finish my French minor in the best possible way: in France, immersed in the language and culture and forced to challenge myself by living my entire life using my target language. The classes themselves were rigorous and accelerated my improvement in every aspect of understanding and communicating in French. I also had the opportunity to take the DELF exam while I was abroad to work toward a concrete goal and test my French skills against an objective standard. I am still not fluent, but I would feel so much more comfortable and competent talking to a francophone, translating a French document, or sending an email in French now than before my study abroad experience.

    How will this experience impact your career goals?

    My French minor is not directly related to my career goals in the sense that I will use my language skills in the workplace, but knowing a second language and having a more global perspective has changed me as a person and is invaluable regardless of the field I pursue. I personally plan to continue working in politics after I graduate. I believe that living in another country and learning from and with people from all over the world helps me approach people from all walks of life with an open mind and a sense of solidarity and global community that I did not have before.

    For more information on internships for Liberal Arts students, visit our website.

    Susan Nahvi

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    Susan Nahvi

    A Paterno Fellow and Schreyer Honors Scholar, Susan graduated with Bachelor of Arts degrees in French Language and Culture and International Politics. As a student, Susan spent a semester studying at l’Université Paul Valéry in Montpellier, France. She was a foundation relations intern for Plan International USA and she interned for Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor Mike Stack. During her time at Penn State, Susan also became an ambassador for Stand for State; she volunteered for Planned Parenthood; and she served as the Treasurer for the Penn State Martial Arts Group.  After graduation, she will work for the Friends Committee on National Legislation where she will be a program assistant for policy on human rights and civil liberties.

    Molly O'Brien

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    Molly O'Brien

    Molly O’Brien has achieved remarkable success as a double major, completing Bachelor of Science degrees in French and Francophone Studies and in Electrical Engineering. In summer 2013, she studied abroad in Besançon. She volunteered extensively during her years at Penn State. Among other things, Molly has tutored calculus and engineering, served as a mentor for the Penn State Women in Engineering Program, and was member of Penn State’s H.E.A.L THON Special Interest Organization. She has received numerous awards. For example, she received the Evan Pugh Scholar Award her junior and senior years, a Lockheed Merit Scholarship, and the Penn State WEP Outstanding Facilitator Award. After receiving her undergraduate degrees, she will enter the Ph.D. program at Johns Hopkins, where she will do research on such issues as how to make robotic surgery safer, how to improve tumor detection, and how to make it easier for surgeons to perform difficult procedures.

    Welcome Professor Bruno Jean-François!

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    Welcome Professor Bruno Jean-François!

    Bruno Jean-François was born and raised on the creole island of Mauritius. After receiving his PhD from the University of Mauritius, he came to the United States as a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow and Visiting faculty at UCLA. While his doctoral research explores the ethics and aesthetics of the representation of violence in contemporary texts from culturally diverse Francophone regions, his current interest lies more specifically in transoceanic networks and local identity dynamics in Indian Ocean island histories and cultures.

    Welcome Professor Tracy Rutler!

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    Welcome Professor Tracy Rutler!

    Tracy Rutler comes to us from the University of Minnesota where she completed research on kinship and politics in eighteenth-century France that earned her several fellowships, including a Mellon fellowship and a Fulbright grant.

    Education Abroad Student Spotlight: Alena Howe

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    Education Abroad Student Spotlight: Alena Howe

    French and Francophone Studies major Alena Howe is featured on the Global Penn State website in an article in which she shares her study abroad experiences from Spring Semester 2015.  "While abroad I focused more on being in the moment and immersing myself in my host city’s culture instead of stressing about exams and other academic pressures. During my time abroad, I learned how to better apply what I was learning in class to my personal and professional life. And now that I have returned home, I feel empowered and determined to make the most of my senior year.”  Alena Howe, Art History and French Major Read more about Alena's semester in Paris here.

    Julia Kelsey

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    Julia Kelsey

    Julia Kelsey graduated with an honors B.A. in French Language and Culture and minors in Biology, English, and International Studies. During her junior year at Penn State, Julia studied abroad for a full year in Montpellier, France, where she completed an internship preparing and distributing meals to parents in need and the homeless. During her years at Penn State, Julia volunteered extensively here in State College as well. She has, among other things, served as a tutor of French, helped out at Shaver’s Creek, canned for THON, and volunteered in the children’s activity days at Schlow Library. Julia has received numerous awards. In 2013, she received the Irving L. Foster Memorial Award. Last year, she was a recipient of a Parkinson Petracca Award for Study Abroad. This year, she received the Evan Pugh Scholar Award and will also soon be receiving the FFS Award for Excellence in French Composition. After graduation, Julia is taking some time off to travel and do volunteer work before either attending graduate school or pursuing a career involving writing in French, English or both. 

    Leah Pappas

    Read Leah's Story
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    Leah Pappas

    Leah is the daughter of Jim and Claire Pappas of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. A Paterno Fellow and a Schreyer Scholar, she is graduating with degrees in Linguistics, through the Bachelor of Philosophy program, and French and Francophone Studies with a minor in Spanish. Leah studied abroad in Montpellier, France, while completing an internship as a teaching assistant at a French elementary school. She also served as a French tutor for the Penn State Learning Center. She has worked in linguistics labs on campus for six semesters in the past four years, and through this work, she became the recipient of an NSF-PIRE fellowship to do research in Berlin, Germany. After graduation, she plans to teach English abroad before beginning graduate studies.

    FFS minor Maria Cosma serves as Student Ambassador at World Expo in Milan

    Read Maria's Story
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    FFS minor Maria Cosma serves as Student Ambassador at World Expo in Milan

    French and Francophone Studies minor Maria Cosma describes the once-in-a-lifetime experience of serving as a Student Ambassador at the World Expo in Milan:
    "I spent the summer of 2015 working as a student ambassador at the USA Pavilion at the World Expo in Milan, Italy. The expo theme was "Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life," and it brought together 145 countries to discuss issues of food security and food culture. I was part of 120 student ambassadors, collectively speaking 28 different languages, who represented the United States. Together, we interacted with over 20,000 international visitors per day and facilitated discussions about America's role as a major food producer. One of the most rewarding aspects of this job was describing the technology behind the football field-sized vertical farm which formed the right wall of the pavilion. Another highlight was meeting Michelle Obama and the presidential delegation who visited the pavilion on June 18th. We had the pleasure of giving the First Lady a tour of the pavilion and hosting a Q&A session about her efforts in combating childhood obesity and malnutrition."