Featured Alumni

Here is information on what some of the past Francophone Studies majors and minors are doing. If you would like to send the department updated information, we would be happy to include this in the alumni/ae page. Please send any information to the Francophone Studies department coordinator, Kate Flaherty.

Brianna Cornelius ’09
I began learning French in high school. However, for my junior year I transferred to a school with a significantly lower budget and was unable to continue my studies until I arrived at BowdoiBrianna Corneliusn. It was there that I met a number of phenomenal teachers that would groom and inspire me to pursue and become what I never had imagined. It was during my sophomore year that I was informed by Professor Charlotte Daniels that my major required me to study abroad for a full year and the French department held my hand through the entire process- from application to flight arrangements. It was also during my sophomore year that I learned about the French/Francophone question from Professor Vété-Congolo and got my first glimpse into the impacts of colonization and power via standardized language varieties, particularly with regards to people of African descent. As a speaker of a non-standard American dialect (African American English) from childhood, this topic captured my attention in a way that nothing else ever had. 

Following my junior year abroad at the Université de Nantes, I graduated from Bowdoin and found myself returning to France for a teaching fellowship at the Université de Bretagne Occidentale in Brest. This lecturer post was entirely arranged and facilitated by the French department and it is no exaggeration to credit my experience with that very department as my primary means of preparation for teaching English and U.S. culture through interactive instruction and cultural activities. It was during this experience that I was introduced to the field of Sociolinguistics as a means of studying the very power dynamics linked to language that had so intrigued me at Bowdoin. Upon returning to the U.S. I enrolled in a MA program in Sociolinguistics at SUNY Buffalo where my research explored the linguistic description and scholarly legitimation of African American English. After completing my masters, I entered a doctoral program in the same area of study at the University of South Carolina and am currently (2017) preparing my dissertation research. My current work focuses on the role of language in identity making processes with the goal of mapping out the interface where language and identity converge. 

I am interested in analyzing the value of language with respect to identity and the impact of second language acquisition on said value. In addition to my academic work, I am actively involved in social activism and it is my hope to find a means of translating my research into a more accessible platform for on the ground application in order to address and help resolve some of the power dynamics that marginalized populations navigate in day to day actions.

Medeline Bedecarre calss of 2010Madeline Bedecarre '10
I started learning French at Bowdoin as a sophomore.  As a junior I studied abroad for a year at the Université de Nantes while living with a host family and I spent the summer in Paris taking the cours de civilization française at La Sorbonne. I even reconnected with distant French relatives, which is one of the reasons I had an interest in the language. The classes I took in the French department at Bowdoin and especially those of Prof. Vété-Congolo, introduced me to Francophone literature and different issues raised in these courses such as questions of identity, immigration, and exile captivated me. Following a yearlong teaching fellowship at l’Université Blaise Pascal, I enrolled in a MA program in French at Columbia University. After completing the second half of my masters degree at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris, France I defended my thesis : Que reste-t-il de la supériorité culturelle française ? Une réévaluation du symbole du lauréat francophone : le cas de Tahar BEN JELLOUN, Prix Goncourt 1987.

I am currently – 2014 – pursuing a PhD in Paris, France at the EHESS (École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales) entitled,  "Le rôle de la Francophonie institutionnelle dans l'accès à la reconnaissance des écrivains de langue française". Next year, in 2015, I will spend time conducting research in different francophone African countries such as Morocco, Senegal and the Ivory Coast thanks to a travel grant provided to me by the Ile-de-France.

I also teach classes part time in Sociology at Paris 1, Paris and at the Neoma Business School in Rouen. My knowledge of French has also allowed me to work in many different settings: at an art gallery (which led me to work at the FIAC this fall)- as an assistant, at the CNRS (Centre national de recherche scientifique) - as part of a research project funded by the European Union, and at Boston College Paris- working with their study abroad program.

Kathleen Emerson '10 is a 2nd Grade Co-Teacher at Greenwich Country Day School Kathleen Emerson '10
After a wonderful four years at Bowdoin and a semester in Paris with Middlebury, I was contemplating a Peace Corps assignment in Sub-Saharan Africa when I decided to try teaching on my home soil for a while. I co-taught third and then second grade at The Greenwich Country Day School in Greenwich, Connecticut where I learned an enormous amount of patience, classroom management, and how to make the letter 'e' exciting and understandable. 

The summer after my first year out of the Bowdoin Bubble, I trekked up north again to Middlebury, where I began a Masters in French at their Summer Language Schools. This summer semester was essential for me: I realized I loved this language and I loved continuing to learn how to express myself in both oral and written forms. However, I wasn't so sure I wanted to teach French (a possible career move after starting out in elementary). After two years of towering over students (a fun anomaly at my whopping 5'3"), I decided to try a different career track. I loved teaching but felt drawn to women's health issues and the medical side of education and public health. I felt as though I could combine my interests and work abroad or in national communities where French or dialect is spoken. 

I found the documentary The Business of Being Born on Netflix and was instantly hooked. Several months and a lot of googling, reading, and interviewing later, I decided to apply to accelerated nursing programs that would allow me to study to be a Certified Nurse Midwife and Women's Health Nurse Practitioner. I would love to use these skills and work abroad with MSF (Doctors Without Borders). Although my French MA is on hold (Middlebury is kindly very flexible with this), I plan to finish it once I'm out of school again. I am very excited to use French "in the field" in my career!

Nicholas Collins '07Nicholas Collins '07
After graduating from Bowdoin, I joined the North Africa team at the National Democratic Institute (NDI), a nongovernmental organization that supports democratic institutions and practices around the world. I am currently based in NDI’s Washington, D.C. office, where I manage programs in support of the democratic transitions in Tunisia and Libya. My background as a French major at Bowdoin played a key role in my placement on NDI’s North Africa team. Through my French major at Bowdoin, I learned about the deep-rooted ties between France and the countries of North Africa, which inspired me to support democratic political processes in the region. Focusing on former French colonies in the Maghreb region such as Morocco, Mauritania, Algeria and Tunisia, I use French on a daily basis, whether to follow news from the region, speak with local staff in field offices, or translate manuals used for training political activists.

In the early days of the citizen-led revolutions that rocked the Arab world in 2011, I spent four months in Tunisia to establish NDI’s offices and launch the Institute’s programs to assist newfound political parties and civil society organizations. In one project, I traveled across the country with a team of Tunisian researchers to conduct the country’s first-ever qualitative public opinion research study, convening Tunisians in focus groups to assess their attitudes toward the democratic transition and expectations of political leaders. I then presented the research to political party members in French, and led discussions on how parties could use the findings to better engage citizens on issues that matter to them. In October 2011, I led a team to organize NDI’s international observation mission to oversee Tunisia’s first free and fair elections. As the country’s political transition enters its third year, I am eager to continue using my French skills to contribute to its successful outcome.

Anna Troyansky '06Anna Troyansky '06
The program in French Linguistics brought me back to Texas, the state where I grew up, after eight years away.  I studied French at Bowdoin where I wrote an honors project on written and oral variants of the type of fairy tale where children are left in the woods by their parents (i.e. Jeannot et Margot, Le Petit Poucet).  I spent my junior year abroad in Paris through the Hamilton College program  and took most of my courses at Paris III and the Institut Catholique where I first got a taste of linguistics.  After graduating, I taught foreign language for four years – teaching English in primary schools in Brittany and then middle and high school level French in Virginia.  From personal experience of living in France (Versailles, Limousin, Paris) and learning French at a young age (age 7 and 12), I am now interested in studying issues in bilingualism, relating to both language acquisition and language contact.  I have spent summers leading student trips to France, attending the LSA summer institute (2009), and most recently, studying Arabic intensively.  As I continue to learn Arabic, I hope to incorporate it into my research.  Outside of class this past year, I directed UT French department's student production of Moliere's Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme.

Profile of Anna, while she was a student at Bowdoin.

Brita Sands '05Brita Sands '05
Following  graduation, I spent several years in France where I worked as a teacher in Nantes and as an international coordinator at Reid Hall, Columbia's "European Global Study Center" in Paris. While completing an MA in French at Middlebury College in Paris, I also had the opportunity to work with a start-up specializing in inter-cultural management and communication. I devoted my Masters thesis research to Euro-Mediterranean relations and development policy priorities. This led me to explore the Middle East and North Africa region and to pursue Arabic language study. Last year, I received the Kathryn Davis Fellowship for Peace to attend Middlebury's summer Arabic program. I am currently completing my second Masters at the Monterey Institute of International Studies and will use both my French and Arabic skills next semester in Tunisia where I will conclude final research for my MA in International Policy.

I have a diverse set of interests but remain a true Francophile. I am an active member and volunteer with the Alliance Française and organize monthly language mixers in my community.

Jen Weeks '04
Jen Weeks '04 Growing up I benefited tremendously from the bilingual education I received in the Catholic school system in Ontario, Canada. At Bowdoin, I rediscovered my love of French thanks to the passionate and innovative professors in the Romance Language Department. I traveled to Bordeaux in March of freshman year and was hooked on French culture thereafter. I also spent the first semester of my junior year studying at the CUEF in Grenoble, France. While I was abroad I traveled to Paris, Lyon, Strasbourg, Nice, and Aix-en-Provence and was utterly enamored by beauty and diversity of the country.

I graduated from Bowdoin with a double major in French and Government and Legal Studies. Afterwards, I spent a year working on Parliament Hill as an aide for Member of Parliament, Guy Lauzon, the opposition critic for Official Languages. In Ottawa, I had the opportunity to sit on committees and learn about lobby groups interested in bilingualism and promoting French language instruction.

In 2005, when the opportunity to teach at Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, NH with Jim Weeks 04' presented itself I jumped at the chance. I taught French there for four years and spent a month as a delegate of Rotary International on a professional exchange visiting schools and talking to educators throughout Alsace and Franche-Comté.

I'm currently working on my Master of Education degree in Online Teaching and Learning, teaching Upper and Middle School French  and serving as an Academic Technology Coordinator at Kingswood Oxford School in West Hartford, CT.

Ana Conboy '04
Anna Troyansky '06After graduating from Bowdoin, I spent a year working in Portland, ME. As it became clearer and clearer that I was not made for a "9 to 5", I decided to try my luck at the Teaching Assistantship Program in France the following year. I had been a French minor at Bowdoin, had grown up in Portugal and, yet, had never managed to make it to France... What better opportunity to do so, than the Assistantship program? I thought I would go for seven months, enjoy a little bit of French culture, language and landscape and return to the US. Well, seven months (easily) turned into three years. After a year in Périgueux (near Bordeaux) where I had a most wonderful experience teaching at a local high school, je suis montée à Paris, where I taught English and worked as an au pair for a year and, in my second year in the capital, received an MA in French Language and Civilization through New York University's program in France. At the end of that academic year, I returned to the US to start my PhD in French Language and Literature at Boston College, where I have been since September 2008.

I am currently working on my dissertation (Baroque theater of the second quarter of the 17th century in France), after having passed my comprehensive exams in April 2011 (not the most pleasant experience, but I keep telling myself that if I was able to do that, I can do anything... including a dissertation!). And, of course, France having the effect it generally has on people, I am eager to return next  academic year for a year of R&R (that's Reading and Research...) through a generous exchange Boston College holds with the École Normale Supérieure at Ulm.

Jeff Busconi '00Jeff Busconi '00
After graduation, I joined the investment banking analyst program at Morgan Stanley in New York. After two years, I moved to London and worked in Morgan Stanley's London office. While in London, I frequently used my French reading and speaking skills. I worked in the mergers and acquisitions department. One of the projects I worked on involved a large French beverage company buying another company. The entire deal team was French. One reason I was assigned this deal was my ability to understand the first language and cultural norms of our client. I traveled frequently back and forth from London to Paris.

After eight years at Morgan Stanley, I left to join Viking Global Investors, a hedge fund based in New York. I am a Portfolio Manager responsible for investing in financial companies in the US and Europe. In my current job, I have the chance to travel often to Europe. When we make investments in French companies, I travel to Paris to meet with the management teams and learn about their businesses. Speaking French not only allows me to develop deeper relationships with management, but also pick up on subtleties of tone and expression helpful to my research.

It sounds funny but learning about finance and investing has been a lot like learning another language. Professor Vanderwolk and the French department prepared me well.

Holly Fowler '97Holly Fowler '97
I am currently the Senior Director of Sustainability & Corporate Social Responsibility for Sodexo North America. In this role, I lead Sodexo’s sustainability initiatives and innovation by leveraging the company’s experience in serving more than 10,000 individual sites across North America. Through effective employee engagement, this work assists Sodexo and its clients to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and energy use, to conserve water resources, to minimize waste generation, and to promote sustainable agriculture and conscious consumption. In addition to developing internal sustainability expertise and implementing the company’s sustainability performance management system, I serve on Sodexo’s global steering committees for waste and water.

I am a frequent presenter on the topic of sustainability at conferences worldwide for organizations including Net Impact, GreenBiz, FORTUNE, and SEBRAE and I previously held the position of Director of Sodexo’s Worldwide Education Market.
Prior to joining Sodexo in 1999, I was an English professor at the Centre de Langues Vivantes of the Université de Grenoble in Grenoble, France from 1998 to 1999, and English lecturer at the Université de Bretagne Occidentale in Brest, France from 1997 to 1998.

I hold an A.B. in French and European History from Bowdoin and an M.B.A. from Babson College.

Alison Welch Davee '85
Alison Welch Davee '85I was born in Connecticut but grew up in Waterloo, Belgium where I attended a French-speaking Belgian school for five years while in grade school.  I graduated from Suffield Academy, in Connecticut in 1981. I earned a B.A. from Bowdoin College in 1985,  majored in French and Government, and graduated with high honors in French. I spent the fall of my junior year in Strasbourg, France, and attended courses at l'Université de Strasbourg through Syracuse University.

Since graduating from Bowdoin, I have taught at a number of different schools. My first year out of Bowdoin, I taught at The Shreveport Country Day School in Shreveport, Louisiana.  I then worked at my alma-mater Suffield Academy for three years where I taught French & US History, coached field hockey and lacrosse, and worked as a dorm parent.  I really missed Maine though, and was hired to teach French at the  Carrabassett Valley Academy at Sugarloaf, USA.  As a four-year member of the cross-country ski team at Bowdoin, I enjoyed being back on both cross-country and downhill skis on a daily basis. I have spent the past 19 years teaching French at Lincoln Academy, in Newcastle, Maine.  Lincoln Academy was initially established as a preparatory school for Bowdoin. I designed the French Curriculum when I first arrived, and continue to work on improving the  curriculum.   I teach French levels I through IV, and established the French Language Advanced Placement Course ten years ago.  I also established a cultural exchange program with a French high school near Marseille. 

In addition to teaching French and being an advisor to the International Club at Lincoln Academy, I am a Team Leader as well as Head of Team Leaders, and I am co-Chair of the Governance Committee which oversees teachers' certification. Recently, I was selected as an AP Exam reader for French by The College Board.

I live in Hope with my two sons, Jake and Will, along with many four-legged friends.  I enjoy many outdoor activities including riding and  training her horses, and I compete in three-phase events.