Thoughts from our Alumni

Here is what OSU students say about the value of studying a foreign language. Our alumni have gone on to do amazing things and have applied their undergraduate experience to their careers and lives in fun and meaningful ways.


Bryce St. ClairBryce St. Clair

OSU Class of 2015, Major in Romance Studies, Minor in Linguistics, Optometry Doctoral Candidate 2019

My advice is to combine a French degree with another skill set: medicine, business, or education. Personally, I have used my Romance Languages degree to speak to patients in French at the hospitals up in New England. Many of my patients work in commerce and must have bilingual proficiency in order to trade across the border with Quebec. Likewise, businesses that wish to market in the US & Quebec advertise in English and French in order to appeal to more consumers. Most importantly, the need for bilingual education is paramount. I believe that pioneering immersion schools, bilingual education programs, and cultural festivals are key to accessing potential in the area.


Juan Carlos Ruiz CollJuan Carlos Ruiz Coll

OSU Class of 2009, Major in Italian

Juan graduated from Ohio State with majors in Italian and Linguistics in 2009. He jokes that he started studying Italian by “mistake.” During freshman orientation, he was told that he needed to study a foreign language, even though he already spoke English and Spanish. He picked Italian: “if I ever get the chance to go to Europe,” he told himself, “I’d start in Italy and I’d like to order a slice of pizza in Italian.” By the time the mistake was caught, he was hooked on the language (and could order a lot more than just pizza).

Juan really enjoyed his experience with Italian at Ohio State. He had a fantastic time ‘dj-ing’ for the CLLC Radio course and completing a summer study abroad program in Siena, Italy. After graduation he returned to Siena for a graduate program. Once in Italy, Juan took a part-time position with the Siena Italian Studies program and soon worked up to the position of Program Coordinator. He believes studying foreign languages is a fantastic opportunity, for both professional and personal development. Juan Carlos also writes TheStudyAbroadGuru.com, a blog that helps students prepare for their experience overseas.

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Joe Sparano

OSU Class of 2018, Finance Major

As a graduating senior there is an overwhelming emphasis to continue to look forward towards the future. However, I cannot help to look back and reflect on my time at The Ohio State University (I’m positive that every graduating senior does) and I’m pleased to say I have no regrets except for one. I wish I would have continued on in my studies of the Italian language. Most of us are forced to take a foreign language as a general education requirement and we see it as only an obstacle in the way of getting a degree in something else yet I fell in love with Italian. When I was in my Italian classes it felt like I wasn’t learning this beautiful language for the degree, I wasn’t immersing myself in a different culture for the purposes of making money, and I didn’t sit there because I knew it was required of me. No, in fact, I did it for myself. I was engaged and enthralled by the idea that I can communicate with a whole other body of people that live on this planet. My Italian professors encouraged me to participate and I learned because I was genuinely interest.

I thought of making Italian my minor even before I knew of all the amazing opportunities the French and Italian department offer in the realm of studying abroad. But of course I got caught up with my major, economics, which-while I am very proud of- I realized I was majoring in this because I knew I could make good money off of it. I wasn’t doing it FOR ME. So my advice to you, mr./ms. Undergraduate, is while you are here at this wonderful university, do something for yourself. Go take that French culture class you’ve been wanting to take, enroll in the Italian cinema class you you’ve been thinking about. Get an Italian minor and pursue you’re love for the language and take advantage of the wonderful opportunities that the department offers you. Become more well rounded and worldly. I know if I had to do it all again that’s what I would do.


Ami Saji

Ami Saji

OSU Class of 2011, Double Major in French and International Relief and Diplomacy, Minor in International Relations

Ami Saji graduated in 2011 with a BA in French and International Studies. Post-graduation, she began working in the non-profit sector, where she specialized in refugee resettlement, migrant integration, and workforce development programming. More recently, she obtained a Master in Public Administration (MPA) from The London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) and relocated to Paris, France to manage a research network working to improve survey data on the integration of ethnic and migrant minorities. Thinking back to her time at OSU, she credits the opportunities both inside and outside of the classroom for preparing her for her career today. In the classroom, the rigorous coursework deepened her appreciation for and understanding of the French language and culture, while outside the classroom she was able to leverage study abroad opportunities in Switzerland and France to gain invaluable real-world language immersion. These factors gave her the confidence and drive to work in French as she does today.


Victoria Sevich

OSU Class of 2017, Double Major in Romance Studies and Linguistics

When you learn a new language, you not only gain the immediately obvious benefits of being able to communicate with new people and immersing yourself in new cultures, but it also changes the way you think. Learning a second language isn't like taking a course in psychology or calculus - in addition to learning a set of new facts and new information, you are learning an entirely new way of thinking. You are leaning a new way to encode your own thoughts, and also a new way to process and understand those of others. You are forced to think analytically about what you see, read, and hear in order to create and verbalize thoughts and to understand those of others. You begin to think about your native language or languages in an entirely different way. Whether or not you realize it, you take these skills with you wherever you go - to other classes, to personal and professional relationships, and to the world beyond graduation. Learning new languages has opened my world to not only new people and new cultures, but also to a new way of thinking and processing new thoughts. I am a more analytic consumer of new information and a more critical thinker. I am grateful to my professors and my university for providing me with so many opportunities to grow in my knowledge and confidence and am excited to use my skills in the world after graduation. 


Kelsie FieldsKelsie Fields

OSU Class of 2018, Double Major in Italian and International Studies, Minor in Nonprofit Studies

"I majored in Italian and International Development and minored in Nonprofit Studies. In addition to the joy of knowing another language, learning Italian also taught my brain new ways of thinking and organizing

 information. I find these analytical skills to be even more useful than the actual language-speaking itself, at least in my current role. Learning another language made me an adept problem solver, and I use this skill and others every day. My primary career goal is to work at The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation or a similar organization that focuses on solving international issues through philanthropy. During my time at Ohio State, I developed an interest in education and its relationship with economic mobility and empowerment. I work in the education field now, and I hope to gain more international experience in this area, specifically as it pertains to education in the midst of national emergencies such as civil war and natural disasters. I loved everything about my time in FRIT, but the most important thing I gained was lifelong friendships with some of the most brilliant, inspiring people I have ever met. The professors in the Italian department played a significant role in my educational journey and life, and they challenged me to be the best best version of myself, encouraging me every step of the way.I will always cherish the learning and laughter that I experienced in every single one of my Italian classes as well as the relationships formed in Hagerty Hall."


Ashley Builes

OSU Class of 2018, Double Major in Italian and Speech and Hearing Science

In my profession as a Speech Therapist, employers are looking for people who understand different cultures. Being fluent or at least knowing other languages has opened many doors for me in the job market. They want to see people who are culturally competent so future clients are comfortable with someone who accepts their culture and their language differences. People in general appreciate the fact that I try to break the language barrier by learning their language and their customs. It helps create a sense of trust or at least helps others be more comfortable in a hospital environment, where it tends to be a highly emotional setting. 


Megan Dailey

Megan Dailey

OSU Class of 2018, Double Major in French and Linguistics

"Before coming to Ohio State, I had never studied French formally. After taking an introductory French course, I fell in love with the language and, after studying in Quebec City for a summer, added it as my second major. Four years later, I have just moved to Paris to start a Research Masters in Cognitive Science at L'Ecole Normale Superieure. The stars aligned in that the program is a perfect fit for my professional goals, and my French education is the reason I am able to pursue it. I hope to continue in research in the cognitive sciences/linguistics, and I hope my career takes me to new and exciting places where I always have the opportunity to use my language skills!

I made some of my closest friends in French classes; the classes are engaging, and professors urge students to confront their own ideas about the world with other perspectives across francophone cultures. This last bit is what I've found to be the most critical in my personal and professional life. How many students in other fields get to learn how to critically evaluate information from different cultural frameworks and openly discuss, write about, and reconcile these ideas in a foreign language? Where else can you learn such indispensable ""soft"" skills in the information-saturated environment we live in? Quelle chance! (How lucky are we?!)"


John Schmidt

OSU Class of 2020, Fisher College of Business and Italian Minor

In high school I studied Spanish because it was a graduation requirement, and when I came to Ohio State I had virtually no intention to continue studying a foreign language because I didn’t believe it was completely necessary for my career path. I thought it would be more beneficial to fill my credit spaces with other classes more pertinent to my major. Then, in the summer of 2017, I had the extraordinary privilege to work for a real estate investment group in Chicago, IL that does a great deal of business overseas. Over this period I spent a lot of time with the chairman and founder of the company, and one of the things he constantly expressed to me is the fact that whether we like it or not, humanity is growing more connected every day, and it is more important now than ever to be able to effectively communicate with and understand people from all over the world. With the access that we have now to quality education and the exposure we have to other cultures, there is no excuse for young Americans to graduate from college and know only one language. There are 1.5 billion English speakers on Earth. That means that by not learning a foreign language, you are effectively isolating yourself from 5.9 billion potential business and personal connections - 80% of the population. Tomorrow, the world will be more interconnected than it is today. To be a competitive businessperson, it is absolutely essential to actively learn the languages and cultures of other nations. After being part of the foreign language program at Ohio State, I believe that my understanding of another language (or two) could be the single most valuable skill I acquire during my time in college.


Kayla WhitehouseKayla Whitehouse

OSU Class of 2015, Major in French

"After graduating I spent 7 months in Saumur, France teaching primary school English with the TAPIF program. I then began my Masters of International Development at the University of Pittsburgh as part of the Peace Corps Masters International program. I completed my first year of graduate study, am currently doing my 27 months of service, then will return to finish my degree. 

My French is being used living and working in West Africa. I was initially in Peace Corps Burkina Faso but was evacuated after only 3 months. I am now almost 10 months into service in Guinea as an Agroforestry Volunteer. In my small village I speak mostly Malinke, and in larger villages/cities I speak French. I plan to finish my masters, then work on community development. I am very interested in food security both at home and abroad."


Jessica LaHote

Jessica LaHote

OSU Class of 2017, Double Major in French and Psychology

Following my graduation from OSU, I spent 7 months teaching English with TAPIF in Nyons, France. I am currently pursuing a Masters of Public Health and I plan to continue to use my French in my future career.

I hope to evaluate and improve mental health programs in international settings, including Francophone countries in Africa. I’m interested in identifying barriers to accessing mental health services and tailoring existing interventions to better meet the needs of specific populations. Much of this work entails direct collaboration with community members within these populations, so having a common language and some cultural competency is very valuable.

I truly felt supported by the Department of French and Italian every step of the way. The inviting nature of the faculty along with the small size of the department meant that I never felt rushed out the door. Many of the professors, especially Dr. Willging, Dr. Hoffmann, and Dr. Marx-Scouras, helped me to see my interests in French and psychology as complimentary rather than competing. This has had an enormous impact on my current path and my future plans.

 

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