William (Bill) Ford '05
I currently work for Cambridge Associates in Boston. It is a financial consulting firm that advises colleges/universities (Colby being one of them), non-profit organizations, and high net worth families on how to invest their endowments/wealth so as to preserve capital. For the most part, the clients are US-based, but I have been fortunate enough to have a European client that allows me to translate documents from French on occasion. Outside of work, I am a member of the French Library in Boston and try to participate in their various events. My advice to the current seniors looking for jobs and those to follow is, if you are seriously considering looking for a job in France after graduation, do it now. It becomes increasingly more difficult as time passes.
I would be absolutely open to anyone contacting me with questions about my job, French after college, or looking for jobs in general.
Whitney Johnson '05
My first semester at Colby I fully embraced the Liberal Arts experience; I chose courses that spanned the breadth of Colby’s offerings: Anthropology, Psychology, German, and English. It was in this semester, the first term in my life that I had not taken a course in French, that I realized the depth of my love for Francophone literature and culture. I managed to take a French course every semester from that point forward.
An English and French Literature double major at Colby, I studied abroad in Paris my junior year. In the spirit of cultural research, I took a graduate course in American literature at the Sorbonne with French students and a French professor. The societal and literary implications were palpable; the way Americans teach our literature and the way the French teach the same texts are entirely different. This experiment has inspired my pursuit of cross-cultural literary studies, specifically the unique perspective of one society and its ability to illuminate another society’s worldview. I feel that my experiences at Colby have prepared me well for this endeavor.
During my time at Colby, as I felt my love and interest of the French language grow and deepen, the faculty of the French department provided a corresponding challenge. I have been consistently amazed at the depth of knowledge my professors provided and shared in class. Their ability to nurture my intellectual curiosity has inspired me to pursue a teaching career of my own. I value my experiences in the French department; one cannot overestimate the value of coming to appreciate another language and culture. I have found that this understanding sheds light on many aspects of even everyday life in the most unexpected ways. The faculty in Colby’s French department demonstrates a contagious passion for their area of expertise, and any student who enters the department cannot help but be changed by it for the better.
Charlotte Morse-Fortier '08
I graduated in May, with a French Studies and Psychology double major, and headed off for France in September. I live in Lyon, at the École Normale Supérieure, where I work as a lectrice. I found out about this position from the Colby student exchange with the ENS (this is where all the French language
assistants come from!) and from the university's website. I teach English classes to university and masters students whose specialty is not English but who are fulfilling their language requirement. I have a lot of freedom to develop my own curriculum and choose all my own course materials.
I have never taught like this before, but it is exciting to get to be on the other side of the classroom. Life in Lyon is great, it is a beautiful city, somewhat more intimate than Paris, with unlimited opportunity to speak French. The students and friends I have made here will last a lifetime, as will my experiences teaching. I feel very lucky to have been given this opportunity. I strongly encourage everyone to apply for teaching jobs abroad, whether at the ENS or through Fulbright programs. Teaching can be hard work, but very fulfilling, and is a great way to make a life in France!
Catherine Sear '05
Right from the start, while I am not a native speaker, I was happy to major in French at Colby. I came to college with a strong interest in French and was able to follow my passion for the language and the culture. The variety of courses opened my eyes to new areas of French studies. My first two years I took courses with as many French professors as I could and I got know most of the professors in the department well. Also, I had a wonderful academic advisor who was a role model, and a kind supporter.
Junior year exposed me to the joys of living in the language. I spent the year in Paris, which solidified my language skills and gave me to opportunity to see first hand much of the history and culture that I had been studying. Also, I shared this adventure with nearly all the French majors in my Colby class, many of whom became close friends as a result of our adventures together in Europe.
Senior year, coming back to Colby I focused on life beyond school. I was lucky to find a job in Paris at a fashion magazine where I was speaking French every day, all day. Beyond my work life, making my own new life in Paris was its own day-to-day challenge. My prior experience in Paris as a student and a strong academic foundation from Colby helped me to take it on.
All in all, I could not be happier with my academic and personal experience at Colby exploring my passion for French. Now, three years out of college, I am going back to school to pursue a Masters in International Relations at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Looking forward, I do not know where I will end up professionally or personally, but I plan to continue to be speaking and reading French for the rest of my life.
Alison McAnneny '03
I started at Colby knowing that I wanted to go to medical school. As one of seemingly dozens of other pre-meds in my class, this was a certainty I did not question. I knew that was the primary focus of my years at Colby. At the same time, however, I was aware of my other interests, those not limited to the strict regime of chemistry and biology that comprised the bulk of my pre-medical school requirements. I am incredibly grateful for my foresight – more just dumb luck, actually – at having taken advantage of the liberal arts education that Colby offered. As a fourth-year medical student about to begin a career in surgery, I now realize how important my “extra-medical” education has helped me develop personally and professionally.
At Colby, I double-majored in biology and French literature, two areas of study that others would jokingly remark “didn’t have much overlap.” For the most part, this was true. As my study continued, however, I discovered ways in which French literature and medicine shared an intellectual track – the “medicalization” of 19th-century literature and the theatricalization of madness – and this became the focus of my senior thesis for my French major. A student of both science and French literature and history, I was able to contribute knowledge and interests from these two seemingly separate fields of study, and use them to delve further into a topic of historical and cultural importance. Such integration of knowledge – the ability to personify your work by bringing your own strengths, values, and interests – is what holds the greatest joy for me in my areas of study.
I have found this to be particularly true of medicine, and on several levels. First, medical schools have recognized the importance of cultivating professionalism and humanity in their students, and many have begun to change their curricula to accommodate classes in the humanities. It is no longer acceptable for physicians to simply memorize diseases and treatments – this is where the adage “Treat the patient, not the disease” comes into play. It also looks great on applications to medical school and residency! In fact, admissions committees now almost certainly require that a candidate show interests and dedicated pursuits outside medicine, whether it’s playing on a sports team, carrying an extra major, being part of a club or musical group, having a career before medical school, or volunteering.
From my perspective, my education in French has helped me to develop professionally in many ways, and will likely provide many opportunities in the future. Language proficiency or fluency is a terrific asset for a doctor, since the physician-patient relationship hinges entirely on effective communication. (I hope one day to participate abroad with organizations such as Operation Smile and Médecins sans frontières.) More importantly, however, is the way in which my liberal arts education and my studies in French have helped me develop personally. Medicine is an extremely demanding field, at times requiring one to neglect all else (family, friends, hobbies) in order to succeed. When I begin residency next year, for example, I know that I will need to actively incorporate those other aspects of my life that continue to define me as a person, and this will certainly affect how well (emotionally and physically) I am able to train as a surgeon. However cliché, I have found in medical school that the only way to truly succeed is to be yourself. You can learn the lines, memorize the facts, and play the role of a doctor, but recognizing your own strengths and values, and having the courage to apply them and cultivate your own style of practice is the most rewarding aspect of becoming a physician.
Hanna Noel '10
Just over a month after graduating, I packed up my car and
moved from Connecticut to Billings, Montana where I am currently serving as an
AmeriCorps*VISTA. As a VISTA, I am serving a year in Billings to make
long-lasting impacts on poverty by establishing sustainable, community-driven
initiatives. The Community Garden and Food Security Initiative that I am
leading alongside another VISTA is a part of a larger citywide initiative to
impact homelessness. Through an incredible collaboration with the Salvation
Army and an extensive network of partnerships with the Billings school district
as well as a wide range of local organizations and programs, Billings will be
piloting a garden-based learning program this summer. Beginning with a summer
program and transitioning into an after-school enrichment program, student
participants will learn about nutrition, food systems, sustainable agriculture,
and learn to grow food with their own hands on an organic urban farm and in two
raised-bed school gardens. Other food security initiatives currently underway
include an assortment of community garden projects throughout the city, as well
as the establishment of a local Food Policy Council that will address a wide
scope of issues relating to food security.
So, what do community gardens have to do with French
Studies? Well, although I haven’t spoken more than a few words of French since
coming to Montana, I could not have chosen a better field to major in. I know
that my Colby education and my double majors in French and Anthropology have
without a doubt prepared me well for my year as a VISTA and beyond. Though I am
still unsure what I hope to be doing in five or ten years, I have a better idea
now. I would recommend to anyone who is unsure of what to do post-Colby to look
into AmeriCorps VISTA. Not only is the experience I am gaining tremendous, but
it is such an incredible experience being able to collaborate with community
members and organizations to enhance (or even create) programs that provide a
hand up to members of the community living in poverty. I have met so many
extraordinary people since joining the Billings community, and am grateful to
be surrounded by such an inspiring group of people. The Community Garden/Food
Security Initiative is something I am truly passionate about, so much so that I
cannot imagine leaving Billings when my VISTA year is up in July!