The Department of French and Italian

2015-2016 Walther Scholars

Amir Aziz
Brendon Kaufman
James Law
Sarah Le Pichon
Fanny Macé
Valérie Masson

Amir Aziz
I grew up most of my life in Singapore, an island-country in the Asia-Pacific. My initial academic background was actually in the sciences. After graduating from high school in 2005, I attended a higher education institution in Singapore where I specialized in molecular genetics and stem cells. I graduated with a diploma in Molecular Biotechnology; at the time, I had wanted to pursue a research career in molecular genetics. It wasn't until when I was serving in the Singapore Armed Forces from 2009-2011 working as a Training Officer/Translator that I realized my true calling in language study and socio-cultural studies. 

Growing up in Singapore, a multi-cultural, multi-lingual country, strengthened in me a natural passion for languages, and I was fascinated with the Francophone cultures of North Africa. I had already learned Arabic growing up in Singapore attending madrasah, and I wanted to learn French so it could open up new horizons. After leaving the Army, I went to the U.S. to further my education. I received B.A.s in International Studies, Arabic and French at the University of Mississippi, where I worked extensively on French Algeria, Algerian identity and Algerian Arabic, a whimsical hybridization of different languages. In the summer of 2013, I lived in Fez, Morocco to further my studies of Classical Arabic and learn Moroccan Arabic (Darija). In the summer of 2014, I attended L'École Française at Middlebury College in Vermont, where I studied North African film and the evolution of French political rhetoric. Every step of my academic journey, no matter how long it might have taken, has developed, enriched and led me to where I am today, and I am thankful to be part of such a vibrant intellectual community here at UT.

The Walther Fellowship is a wonderful opportunity that will allow me to nurture and develop my passion for the Francophone literature of North Africa. I am very grateful to be a recipient of the Fellowship for my first year, which will allow me to focus on my studies and research as I begin my Ph.D. journey navigating through graduate school and French Studies.

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Brendon Kaufman
From my time growing up in a small suburb of New York City, I've always had a passion for Mathematics and language. For many years, those two interests seemed completely distinct. I started taking French language courses early on in middle school and continued through my time at Hamilton College, a small liberal arts college in upstate New York. I was able to spend my junior year at Hamilton abroad in Paris, studying at Paris III (La Sorbonne Nouvelle) and Paris VI (UPMC). In Paris, I solidified my language skills and finally found a way to combine my French with my inclination for mathematical and quantitative reasoning. Once I took French Syntax and French Sociolinguistics courses at Paris III, I knew that I wanted to pursue further studies in Linguistics. The Walther Fellowship provides me with the support I need to explore this new path. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunities it provides me at UT. 

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James Law
I am so grateful for the generous Walther fellowship, which will be an immeasurable help during my graduate studies in French Linguistics.  Because of it, I can truly dedicate myself to my academic endeavors when it really counts, without other responsibilities such as teaching to divide my time and attention.

Growing up in northern Alabama as the son of a linguaphile, I was brought up with a love of languages from a young age.  My father travels extensively working for the Department of Defense, and speaks seven languages, mostly self-taught.  He shared his passion for languages with his children, greeting me in the morning with an enthusiastic “bonjour,” “buongiorno,” or “Guten Morgen,” depending on the day.  I have carried that passion with me through missionary service in the South of France and undergraduate studies in French and Linguistics up to my current graduate studies at UT.  The Walther fellowship was a major factor in my choice to come to Austin, and I am very thankful to have received such an immense help as I move forward in my education.

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Sarah Le Pichon
I am incredibly grateful to be one of the recipients of the Walther Fellowship this year. I grew up in Houston and attended a French immersion school there until my Junior year of high school. I was therefore able to fully experience the wonderful nature of both the Texan and French cultures, and knew that I wanted to remain immersed in both. I spent my undergraduate career at Lewis & Clark College in Portland pursuing my love of literature in both French and English. Writing honors theses in both departments further convinced me of my love of research and literary analysis. 

While applying to graduate schools, UT Austin was immediately a first choice for me, not only because it offered me a wonderful chance to immerse myself once again in the Texan culture and presented me with some of the best and most challenging research opportunities in the French Department, but also because it allowed me one full year of acclimation to the graduate school world. This is an incredible opportunity that not many graduate students are offered in their first year. 

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Fanny Macé
I was born and raised in the Loire Valley region in Northern France. After obtaining my bachelor’s degree in English and American studies at the University François Rabelais in Tours, France, I moved to Minnesota in order to teach French and prepare my Master’s in English Education. It was during that time that I developed an interest in French linguistics, specifically pragmatics and sociolinguistics. The year after obtaining my Master’s degree, I was offered a one-year Teaching Assistant position at Harvard University. My love of teaching and my growing interest in linguistics brought me to the University of Texas at Austin the following year. I am currently preparing my comprehensive exams, and I am extremely grateful for this fellowship as it allows me to fully dedicate myself to my research. Thank you for providing me with the generous support I need to further my education and pursue my academic dreams.

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Valérie Masson
I was born and raised in France, in the west suburbs of Paris. The proximity with Paris enabled me to enjoy so many of its cultural activities; exhibitions, concerts, films etc… making culture a big part of my life. While pursuing English studies at the University Paris-Ouest and Denis Diderot, I decided to apply for an exchange program to study for a year in the United States. I spent an amazing year at the University of Texas at Austin where I was struck by the academic excellence of this school, the warmth of the Austin community and by the support given to culture.

My graduate studies here at UT have been a very enriching experience, in the knowledge I acquired but also in the challenges I went through and which gave me the opportunity to learn more about myself as well and about my strength. One challenge that has proved very difficult for me is the limited amount of time to fully immerse myself in my work. As I am in the last year of my dissertation, I am so grateful for receiving the Walther scholarship as I know that it will help me tremendously by offering me the necessary time to focus entirely on my dissertation and finish in due time.  

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WaltherPortrait

Portrait of Julia E. F. Walther in Austin, TX, c.1927

Walther1940

Julia E. F. Walther at the University of Texas at Austin, 1944




  • Department of French and Italian

    University of Texas at Austin
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