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Thoughts from our Alumni

Here is what Ohio State students say about the value of studying a world language. Our alumni have gone on to do amazing things and have applied their undergraduate experiences to their careers and lives in meaningful ways.

Alumni Thoughts

Owen Morrish

Class of 2021, Double Major in Romance Studies and Migration Studies

Owen Morrish

After graduate from Ohio State, Morrish went on to pursue a Master of Arts in Migration Studies at the University of Birmingham, during which he was supported by a Fulbright Scholarship.

Morrish is specifically interested in studying the methods by which resettlement organizations in the United Kingdom aim to support refugees' acquisition of the English language. This program of study will enable Morrish to work toward his goal of uniting the fields of migration studies and language pedagogy to support more impactful linguistic integration for refugees worldwide.

During his time at Ohio State, Morrish won an ASC Society of Fellows’ undergraduate research grant for his project on Pedagogical Practices for the Linguistic Integration of Adult Refugees in the United States. Though he has not yet nailed down a specific research direction to pursue during his master’s, he wants to continue exploring the linguistic integration piece of migration.

Keep reading about Owen's story.

Alexei Vallo

Class of 2020, Double Major in French and Chemistry

Alexei Vallo

Vallo was always planning to combine a STEM and a Humanities field during his college years. He started with Biochemistry, but decided that it was not his thing and switched to Chemistry. As a freshman he also tried Japanese, but he realized that he had enjoyed the French classes he had in high school more, so he signed up for a French minor instead. Once the minor was completed, it was a natural choice for Vallo to continue on to the major. He enjoyed his French classes, instructors, and the way in which the French major complemented his chemistry curriculum.

Vallo, who also teaches introductory chemistry courses, says, “I always tell my students to match up their major with the humanities. STEM classes can get you down sometimes, there’s lots of heavy material. In the humanities you get to learn so much that you would never be exposed to in STEM classes. Plus, a foreign language is always great for anything you do in life.”

Keep reading about Alexei's story.

Kiki Hou

Class of 2020, Double Major in French and Sociology

Kiki Hou

Kiki Hou graduated last spring with double majors in French and Sociology. She is now beginning to work towards a two-year Master’s degree in Sociology at the Sciences Po (The Paris Institute of Political Studies) in Paris, France.

During her time at Ohio State, Hou really enjoyed learning French through a variety of media. In Professor Wong’s class she learned the language through Quebec music and musicals. Hou was not sure at first how she would do in a class where singing was encouraged, but in the end she had a great time. She also found Professor Flinn’s coursework on French cinema and theatre scripts very valuable in developing French skills. And there was no lack of French novels in Professor Willging’s classes, Hou points out with a smile...

Keep reading about Kiki's French story.

Ross Guthery

Class of 2020, Honors Double Major in French and Economics, with a minor in Mathematics

Ross Guthery

Ross Guthery came to Ohio State in 2016 certain that he was going to study French.

He kept an open mind to everything else — what other academic interests he wanted to explore, what student organizations he wanted to join, what direction he should consider for his career.

Now, he’s poised to graduate in May with an honors degree in economics and French and a minor in math. He’ll continue his studies in the fall thanks to a U.S. Student Fulbright Grant to pursue a master’s degree in data science at ESSEC Business School in Paris, France.

Read more about Ross Guthery's story

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.

Lauren Hamlett

Class of 2019, Double Major in Italian and International Studies, minors in Social Psychology and Law Prep

Lauren Hamlett

FRIT alumna Lauren Hamlett (BA, 2019) tells everybody to learn a second language. After loving Italian in high school, she was planning to minor in the language at Ohio State, but her advisor talked her into majoring. “It ended up being the best decision I ever made in college,” says Hamlett.

Hamlett graduated in 2019 with majors in Italian and International Studies (Security and Intelligence concentration) and minors in Social Psychology and Law Prep. Studying Italian gave her many incredible opportunities: she tried her hand at teaching, studied abroad, and made lots of great friends.

But the one thing she comes back to the most is how much studying a second language opened her world. “The more I learned the language, the more I understood a different culture and their mindset. That was fascinating and it changed my view of the world in a lot of ways,” she says.

Keep reading about Lauren's story.

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?!)"

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.

Kelsie Fields

Kelsie 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. 

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. 

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.

Carrick Reider

OSU Class of 2016, BA in Italian, BS in Architecture

Carrick Reider

As a double major in Architecture and Italian with a minor in City & Regional Planning here at The Ohio State University, I will be graduating with both of Bachelor of Science, and a Bachelor of the Arts in under 4 years. It is with tremendous gratitude that I will be able to have completed such a task thanks to the countless hours of help from my advisors, professors, and family. Due to current societal pressures placing precedence on fields of science, numerous prospective students today most often do not give a second thought to pursuing a career in the arts and humanities. However, from my personal experience I have been able to witness the crucial nature of a foreign language in my studies and would recommend to anyone even thinking of the prospect of studying a foreign language to do so. Through my Italian studies here at OSU and abroad, I have gained a global perspective that has further expanded my knowledge in ways that I would never have expected before entering college. The majority of degrees presented every graduation are in fields with universal scope and scale, and although technology continues to exponentially grow in its innovative capacities, many of my peers have decided that gives them the excuse to not have to attempt to learn a foreign language. Students should not be so focused on the possibility of failure when learning a second language and place reliance on technology, but rather learn the language with the possible aid of technology and together in unison be able to further expand their knowledge for the greater good and betterment of the global community. I am undoubtedly grateful for all that my Italian skills have offered me in correlation with, and even aside from, my architectural studies. In conclusion, I eagerly look-forward to see what new and exciting opportunities my Italian language skills will present to me next, and firmly encourage my peers to take up the incredible opportunities skill in a second language will offer them. 

Bryce St. Clair

Bryce 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.

Kayla Whitehouse

Kayla 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."

Rachel Licina

Class of 2013, Double Major in French and History

Rachel Licina

We had an opportunity to catch up with FRIT alumna Rachel Licina, who graduated in 2013 with a Bachelor of Arts in French and History. Licina has taken full advantage of her undergraduate education, especially her French skills. Before returning to school for a Master’s in Public and International Affairs, she travelled in several French-speaking countries, and volunteered and worked in a number of settings where French was needed. Licina’s list of experiences is quite impressive!

When Licina started her studies at Ohio State, she wasn’t sure what she wanted to focus on. She picked the subject that she had enjoyed in high school: history. She had also always wanted to learn a second language: so she added French. Licina really enjoyed her French courses and the instructors she met along the way. She loved her courses with Beth Bishop and Garret Heysel. “They were fun and energetic,” Licina says. She also mentioned Professor Cheikh Thiam’s course on Senegalese culture and literature, which took on a whole new meaning when Licina became a Peace Corps volunteer in Senegal a few years later...

Keep reading about Rachel's story.

Ayat Aldoori

Class of 2012, Dual Major in French and Nutrition, MS in Human Nurtition (2014)

Ayat Aldoori

Bonjour à tous!

My name is Ayat Aldoori and I'm an alumna of The Ohio State University. I graduated with a dual major in French and nutrition. I pursued a master's degree in human nutrition following undergrad and then was accepted into medical school at Ohio University Heritage College of Medicine in the Dublin campus. I am excited to share that I have graduated and matched into Family Medicine residency at Riverside hospital.

I hope to improve my medical French to better communicate with French speaking patients and continue to speak this beautiful language. Special thanks goes to Danielle Marx-Scouras who was a wonderful mentor for me and continues to inspire me to be the best version of myself. You're lucky to have this amazing teacher, OSU!

Ayat Aldoori, D.O.

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.


Juan Carlos Ruiz Coll

Juan 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.

Read the full story

Jennifer Marin

OSU Class of 2006 and 2004, MA in French, BA with Majors in French and Journalism

For me, studying French has opened the door to seeking a profession that allows me to see the world through my work. As a global marketer, my job is to deliver products and solutions to healthcare providers serving their patients under different systems and constraints. From understanding each market's product registration requirements to offering different product variations to accommodate varying clinical or budgetary needs, studying French has fostered a global mind set, which is essential for addressing country or region specific business challenges that may differ from the United States. Most major companies have international sales that surpass their North America sales.

I manage a product line that generates 60% of its revenue outside of the United States. France is a key market of ours (Haemonetics, Inc.). Our European offices are located in Switzerland, where both French and English are utilized to conduct commerce. Mastering a second language such as French provides highly marketable skills by demonstrating not only an ability to speak a second language, but also to communicate to different audiences, utilize diverse thinking, be flexible in sometimes uncomfortable situations, and be passionate about learning and working with all people.

I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to have studied abroad and to have completed a Master's in French and an MBA at Ohio State -- all experiences that are still opening doors which I never imagined to be possible."

Sarah Wakefield with horse

Sarah Wakefield graduated from OSU in 2005 with a major in History with a concentration in Military History and a minor in Italian. Her first job after college was working in an administrative role for a non-profit. After two years she came to work at OSU in a finance role, and over the years she has had various administrative and managerial positions. In 2014, while working full-time at OSU, she completed her Masters degree in Human Resources, and in 2020 she took her current role as Manager of the HR Employee Administration Team..

She chose a Minor in Italian because she considered how the Roman republic had conquered so many places and thought, “If I jump on that train, I’m going to learn a lot”. While none in her family had ever learned a foreign language, she viewed it as an opportunity to add another element to her character, which would then hopefully broaden her career options. She pointed out that struggling to learn a new language gave her empathy for non-native English speakers which in turn helped her broaden her global perspective. As she progressed, she learned new communication skills because she could not operate as she does in her native language, so she had to think carefully about what she wanted to say in order to be effective. “You know that blank stare that people get when you’ve been talking too much and saying nothing? Italian taught me to think and be succinct. Not only do your friends and family appreciate that, but it is imperative in your career. Italian indirectly helped expand my own English vocabulary!”

Despite never having been on a plane, she decided to study abroad as a complement to her Italian minor. She chose to study in Rome for two months and then travel Western Europe with her roommate for two weeks after the program. This trip enhanced her sense of wonder and taught her resilience, as she decided to immerse herself as much as she felt comfortable in something that was completely foreign. She explained: “I only have one life. I can spend it sitting in Ohio…and that would be my life. But I had seen enough older people that had not done anything and plenty of people who had. So I wanted adventure, I wanted more, and I wasn’t going to be content knowing that this whole world is out there and I am only getting a fraction of fraction. I’m richer in character because I have surrounded myself with people who are unlike me. People remember your character; interviewers remember your character.”

When asked how she thought her major in history contributed to her career path, she noted that she decided not to pursue a career in the field of history because she was not interested in specializing. Per her decision, “I wanted my studies to complement me as a person, to inform me and to educate me – to give me the global and historical perspective that my peers were missing out on.” She had grown up in a small town, but her history major taught her that there is so much to learn about the world. She realized this could give her additional depth and potentially a leg up against all those vying for the same jobs. The Military History concentration in particular taught her the importance of working with diverse people under stressful situations, and that well-rounded strategies and successful plans of action are not formed in silos. Along with that, she learned that efforts only succeed when people come together. “We do so much damage to ourselves when we live in disharmony or ignore those who think differently. Successful teams are built on diversity of thought and a common goal.” So for her, managing teams at OSU throughout the years has been crafted by incorporating different perspectives but concentrating them on an ultimate goal.