The Department of French and Italian

2016-2017 Walther Scholars

Tracey Adams

I am exponentially grateful to be one of the recipients of the Walther fellowship this year.  Growing up in a small, rural county in northeast Florida, opportunities to study and practice French were few and far between.  However, with the encouragement of my mother’s family (hailing from Canada) I began taking courses in high school.  I then continued my language studies at the University of Florida, where I realized that my love for logic and scientific study could be combined with my passion for language in a degree in linguistics.  Four years and a trip to the South of France later, I graduated with a BA in Linguistics as well as one in French.  Following graduation, I spent a summer in Tunisia.  During this period, surrounded by language contact, I realized that there were many things I still wanted to learn and research, and that my studies in linguistics were not over.  The flexible and interdisciplinary program at UT, coupled with the atmosphere created by faculty and current students, are what made coming to Austin so appealing.  The Walther fellowship is what made it possible.  Thank you for providing so generously for the French graduate students at UT so that I, among others, may continue to pursue my academic dreams. 

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Andrea Blatz
Since a very young age, I have been intrigued by the interaction of language and culture. Reading about far-away countries, I have always been drawn to the idea of learning the languages spoken there, whether it was the French of Victor Hugo’s Notre Dame de Paris or the Arabic of One Thousand and One Nights. Over the years, as I began to think more deeply about the people speaking these languages and the cultures surrounding them, I have gravitated towards literature because it allows me to examine this relationship more closely. I earned my BA in French and Linguistics from Colgate University, where I wrote my senior thesis in French, focusing on the linguistic and cultural mélange of Moroccan literature. I took two years off after college, teaching English in Beijing, China and Blois, France, and I often thought of how much I had enjoyed researching and analyzing literature. I chose to come to UT to study French literature because of the warm and welcoming atmosphere as well as the opportunities to pursue interdisciplinary study. 

I am extremely grateful to be a recipient of the Walther Fellowship this year. It is a wonderful opportunity that will ensure that I am able to take full advantage of all of the academic possibilities at UT, especially during my first year of graduate studies as I develop and focus my interests in French literature.

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Audrey Doussot
Born and raised in France, I have, from an early stage in my education, been interested in the nineteenth-century period, in pictures, and, of course, in literature. I have spent some time studying English and then teaching it as a second language in France before coming to the United States. I greatly enjoy teaching foreign languages, whether French or English, through the use of both verbal and visual materials. My interest in visual media studies and in text/image relationships has therefore expanded over the years and I am really glad that I have found a place where I can combine and go even further in the study of my three main interests : the nineteenth century (in France and in Great Britain – maybe one day in the whole of Europe!), the use of pictures in media and art, and the teaching of a foreign language.

Receiving the Walther has been a very pleasant surprise, making it possible to spend my first at UT focusing on research and on taking courses to expand my knowledge in fields like French literature or film studies. This generous financial support  means a lot since it is evidence that some people and some institutions still believe that the humanities, and more specifically the study of language and literature, are still worthy of interest. Thank you, Mrs. Walther.

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Sarah Lube Roe
After almost one year of graduate studies in French literature at the University of Texas Austin, two things have become clear to me.

Firstly, I have confirmed my belief that my passions for French literature and teaching have led me into the correct career path for a future as a French professor. After having worked so far on the literature of the sixteenth, seventeenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries, I continue to marvel at the richness of French language, culture, and literature. Continuing my studies at the graduate level has been a dream come true.

Secondly, I have become acutely aware that receiving the Walther scholarship has given me the freedom to truly pursue this dream, without worrying about financial issues while in school or having to work several jobs. The award means that I will be able to focus on my interests in studying Seventeenth Century French literature and the role of women in French literature. I hope that someday, as a French professor, I will be able to share with my students the experiences and knowledge that I gained as a result of this generous award.

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Adam McBride
Receiving Walther support has profoundly changed my graduate experience here at UT. The difference that it has made for me can be summed up in one word: time. Instead of having to spend several hours a week holding tutoring hours or correcting quizzes as a TA in order to support my studies, I am able to focus more on my coursework in French linguistics; I am able to take on more credit hours each semester, thus accelerating my progress towards graduation; and I am also able to take more time to conduct my own research, which brings real experience, substance to my CV, and will hopefully build the reputation of the university.

I find it difficult to adequately express my gratitude for this opportunity. I only hope that someday I'll be able to give back, and extend this opportunity to another. Thank you for your support!

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Clemence Ozel
I was born and grew up in the Champagne-Ardenne region in Northeastern France, and I moved to the nearby town of Dijon in Burgundy to complete my degree in English. At the time, my goal was to become an English teacher in France so I spent my first year abroad at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA. Instead of going back to my home country, I spent two more years at Pomona College in Claremont, CA, where I acquired more experience in teaching French as a foreign language. When I first came to the University of Texas, I wanted to specialize in French and Francophone literature, but after seizing the opportunity to take classes outside the French Department, I realized that I could use my passion for film and develop it in my own research.

For the past three years, I have been taking classes in multiple departments, and I have taught two different levels of French classes. This year, thanks to the Walther Fellowship, I will be able to focus exclusively on my research, prepare my Comprehensive Exams, and write my prospectus. The freedom that the Walther Fellowship will give me is invaluable, and I am looking forward to completing more steps toward my Ph.D.  I am extremely grateful for this fellowship, and I would like to thank the donors for the generous support they offered.   

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Marylise Rilliard

I grew up near Grenoble in the French Alps, and by the end of high school, there were two things I was sure of: I wanted to travel and become a teacher. This is how I decided to pursue a degree in English and American studies. I had the chance to study abroad at the University of Sydney during my last year of undergraduate studies, and ever since, I have never been able to settle in one place, one country, and more importantly, I have never been able to be satisfied with speaking just one language in my everyday life. It is also during this year abroad that my interest in linguistics ignited, but not having any certainty about what I wanted to do as a career, I took a year off and continued my quest in South America. When I came back to France, I did a master's degree in English Studies and Education, and passed the CAPES to become a secondary school English teacher. Although teaching had always been what I wanted to do, this job was not a good fir for me, so I took on a lecturer position at the University of Virginia, where I taught French for two years. Teaching my own language made me realize how little I knew about it, and how much I wanted to understand it, after years of running away from it.

This is how I ended up in the French Linguistics program in the Department of French and Italian at the University of Texas at Austin. I am pleased to have the chance to be part of this program, and incredibly grateful for being a recipient of the Walther Fellowship. It is a wonderful opportunity, as it gives me one full year to adjust to graduate school in the United States, a world I am still not very familiar with.

Ryan Swankie

I am very grateful to receive Walther fellowship support. I feel this experience is helping me understand the life of a university professor. I have come to learn that being a professor is not just about teaching. Research, publishing, grant writing, conference attendance, and university committee involvement are all equally important aspects relative to advancement and tenure tracking. As a doctoral student, my two years so far have trained me well for my future career. My first year I taught introductory French and received course evaluations of the highest standard. Now I am in my second year. The financial assistance of the Walther fellowship allows me to focus on all the other important aspects of professorship listed above. Therefore I am receiving a great balance of experience and training that is essential for my future success as a university professor of French literature. I want to thank the Walther fellowship donors for the generous scholarship. I love UT! Hook 'em horns!

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Ashley Voeks

I am very happy and appreciative to be a recipient of the 2013-2014 Walther Scholarship. As a first-year Ph.D. student in French Studies at the University of Texas at Austin, this award will allow me to focus on my studies and further develop my own areas of interest, before beginning my work as a Teaching Assistant. In addition, the Walther Scholarship provides recipients with the opportunity to take more than one course outside of the Department of French and Italian, which is helpful in that it allows a student to make valuable connections between multiple disciplines, and to gain new perspectives on topics related to our field of study. I look forward to continuing my work at this university, and I am thankful for the outstanding support provided by the Walther Scholarship.

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Amelia Wells

I am so honored to accept a Walther Fellowship from UT Austin. I grew up in the Kansas City area and since my very early childhood years attending a French immersion school, my passion for the language has never wavered. The seriousness with which I pursued my education made creative outlets like French and the performing arts an essential part of my identity, as they contributed to my personal sense of equilibrium. As an undergraduate at Princeton University, I began to realize that I could combine French and the arts after joining a francophone theatre troupe on campus, L’Avant-scène, which ultimately led to a post-graduate year abroad in Paris studying voice and acting at CNSAD conservatory. I subsequently returned to the U.S. to complete my Master's in French at the University of Kansas, and when I was deciding where to apply to Ph.D. programs, UT's immediately stood out as a fundamentally interdisciplinary program. One great example of this characteristic is FIGSO's annual French play, a project that I really hope to get involved with and contribute to as soon as possible. The Walther has made it possible for me to attend UT and I know it will allow me to not only continue striving for a balanced intersection of my interests, but also to push myself even further.

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Jocelyn Wright

I was born in New York but have lived in many places: Austin, Vancouver, and, most recently, Houston, where I received a B.A. in French Studies and History from Rice University. I am thrilled to be able to return to what is without a doubt the best city in Texas to pursue my passion for French literature and culture at one of the best research institutions in the world. I am honored to be spending my first year at the University of Texas-Austin as a Walther Scholar. This generous scholarship has allowed me to focus entirely on my studies without the distraction of financial concerns or teaching. The ability to take an extra class this semester has also familiarized me with new methodologies and critical approaches that I look forward to incorporating into my research. Most importantly, immersing myself in my studies has helped me narrow my research interests; I will be studying immigration and expressions of the other in 20th and 21st Century French and Francophone literature.

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


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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