FLL Alumni News
Judy Fisher Decourcey '83, French
I was a business major and a French minor at Skidmore. I recognized the names of the retired French professors and I believe I had most of them in my French studies at Skidmore. I was the second class to study my junior year abroad in Paris (1981–1982). I was recently at the web page reading about how the program has grown. My friend, Pam Mowry Guild '83, and I were on work-study together and for our work, we put together a booklet for future students to use (how to's, what to know before you go, etc.). It was a fun project. I will always remember the importance that year played in my life: the opportunity to live in and learn about different cultures, the opportunity to travel to other countries, to realize that there was more than just the "bubble" of the United States. I think it is even more important in these difficult times.
After Skidmore, I moved to Boston for six years and while living there, I earned my MBA at Northeastern University. I now live in Canandaigua, N.Y., (south of Rochester) and work at Rochester Institute of Technology in the Human Resources Department, where I am the senior benefits specialist. I don't use French at all in my work, and I know that I have forgotten most of what I learned, simply from lack of use. I have not forgotten, however, the importance of knowing about other languages and cultures. With two young children, overseas travel is really not a possibility for me now. But I hope to go overseas again in the future.
My interest continues. This year, I am serving on the Foreign Language Curriculum Review Committee as a parent representative for the Canandaigua City School District. It is great to be able to play a part in this review and make recommendations for changes in the future. While it was only a one-year commitment, it is a four-year project, and I think I will continue next year as well. I feel like I can make a contribution for the future students and hope to shape their lives by this learning opportunity as well.
Jocelyn Ditzel '99, French
I live in Washington, D.C., and I work at a private, nonprofit organization called Meridian International Center. I work in the Programming Division of Meridian, and we operate under a grant from the State Department to arrange professional programs for international visitors who participate in the International Visition Program sponsored by the State Department. We arrange programs for visitors from all over the world and oftentimes I work on projects that include visitors from French-speaking countries. I have had the opportunity to use my French skills not only at work, but when I have traveled abroad. In fact, immediately after I graduated from Skidmore, I moved to Paris for a year to teach English at a public high school.
Stephen Doff '91, Spanish
Graduated an inter-departmental degree in government and Spanish. I graduated from Binghamton University in 1997 with a master's degree in secondary education and Spanish. I currently live in suburban Baltimore, Md., with my wife and daughter. I have been a foreign language teacher at Centennial High School since August 1997. Currently I teach both Spanish and French. I am proud to be the Spanish AP teacher at CHS and have developed an incredible AP program. To date, the program has an excellent success rate. Out of 31 who have taken the test, 27 of those students have earned a 3 or higher.
With the foreign language education I received at Skidmore, I have been able to bring my own foreign language students to a new height in both language study and cultural understanding. The high standards set by my professors at Skidmore enable me years later to promote critical thinking, hone various problem-solving skills, and give students the confidence to function in authentic real-world settings using Spanish. Many ex-students of mine who are now at the post-secondary level, have called, written letters of thanks, and come back to Centennial, to let me know that they are now majoring in Spanish, studying abroad, and using their Spanish abilities to springboard into the study of other languages. Ironically, these students were the ones who were only taking Spanish "for the credit". Now they have realized just how valuable they really are in today's ever-shrinking world. Now they not only study it to further their own careers, but for the joy of truly knowing another culture.
In addition to teaching, I tutor and have a translation service for local businesses. During the summer, I work with other foreign language teachers in Howard County Public Schools to develop and implement new and exciting foreign language curriculum.
Sarah Donovan '96, Spanish
Location: Hoboken, N.J.
Occupation: Professor of philosophy, Wagner College (starting Fall 2003)
Graduate Education: M.A. (1998) and Ph.D. (2002) in philosophy, both from Villanova University
After graduating from Skidmore with a double major in philosophy and Spanish, I pursued graduate studies in philosophy. My graduate program required me to take two language exams—one in French and one in German. Although my graduate exams were not in Spanish, the techniques for learning a language that I acquired at Skidmore prepared me to learn a second and third foreign language. In addition to helping me with my graduate studies, speaking Spanish has enriched my life experiences both abroad and at home. I have used my language skills in situations as diverse as traveling in central America to conversing with Spanish speaking friends in my apartment building.
Erin Dunlevy '01, Spanish
My name is Erin Dunlevy. I graduated with a double major in Spanish and English in 2001. I am currently teaching Spanish in a public high school in the Bronx, N.Y. I work with a student population that is over 60% Spanish-speaking, so I use my Spanish every day, both in and out of school. This past year I directed a Spanglish version of Romeo and Juliet that reflected some of the changes that are happening in the Spanish language. In the coming year I plan to continue working while earning a master's degree in Spanish.
Marie Ellsworth '75, French
I graduated from Skidmore in 1975. I am now director of the Caldwell-Lake George Library. In my spare time I am an avocational archaeologist and am educator/outreach coordinator for the Adirondack Chapter, NYS Archaeological Association. I often participate in excavations at French & Indian War sites. (Ft. William Henry Military Cemetery and Fort Edward, N.Y.) and often use my French in doing documentary research on the sites. My background in French is also useful in library work, whether answering reference questions or assisting students from France who work in the village during the summer.
Joanna Foyle '98, French
[I] graduated a double-major in psychology and French in 1998. I currently live in San Francisco. I went straight into work for a marketing agency and have not pursued additional education.
I work for MPG Media Contacts, a global internet marketing company with 17 offices in 13 countries around the world. As an account director, I manage the San Francisco team and am ultimately responsible for the client relationships and work product coming out of this office. While I do believe that as the world economy and business become more global my French will become more integrated into my profession, I don't currently use it very much. We will sometimes need to purchase ad space from French websites, in which case I'm sent in to decipher the site for contact information. We do have an office in Paris (and our parent company, Havas, is headquartered in Paris). There was talk at one point of relocating me to that office, but I was reluctant to leave the States at that time (having studied in the Skidmore-abroad program in Paris, I know moving there permanently isn't as simple as just having a job!).
I still read as much French as I can get my hands on, I keep in touch with my French family with whom I lived on the Skidmore program, and I translate menus for my boyfriend in the French restaurants I drag him to! I have returned to Paris once since my stay (spring of 1999) with my aunt, who had never been, and we had a blast; my boyfriend has never been, and Paris is definitely on our list!
I graduated in 1998. After graduating, I spent a few years traveling around the U.S. I spent one year working with Mexican sixth and seventh graders as a bilingual teacher's assistant. I later traveled to China to study martial arts. I happened to meet my "wife to be" on the airplane. We have a 5-year-old daughter, Mariana. Along the way, I managed to get two graduate degrees in business. I currently own two wine/liquor stores in Boston.
My Spanish studies have certainly helped me in several circumstances. The knowledge attained from learning another language and understanding another culture has helped me to communicate better with people from many different cultures and backgrounds. For example, my wife is from China. She learned English as a second language. She says that I was the first person she met in America that truly understood her. Since I studied another language, I was able to understand the difficulties in expression via a second language and work through those difficulties.
Esther A. Goldschlager '00, French
I graduated in 2000. I work in the public relations department of a French advertising agency in New York City. I was a French/psychology major at Skidmore. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Paul Goldsmith '05, French
I did travel abroad to Paris my junior year, the spring semester of 2004. It was the highlight of college for me. I can't begin to count the ways in which I benefitted from my trip to Paris. My speaking and listening skills increased greatly, and my listening skills have stayed at a fairly high level since leaving, even without the daily interaction with French. The confidence gained from being forced to speak French on a daily basis, and around the clock cannot be replicated by simply taking high-level courses. I was also subjected to another culture, which gave me a different perspective on how societies can function differently. Studying abroad was an amazing experience (as anyone who has done it will tell you), but it is something that needs to be done in order to understand why everyone loves it.
I do not use my French in the workplace, although the majority of law terms are French, which allows me to understand certain terms without asking. I do use French on a fairly daily basis however, as my girlfriend is French, and we watch the French news together, and read the French newspapers.
Bettina Graves-Muto '83, Spanish
Después de graduarme de Skidmore, asistí a Boston College donde obtuve un M.A.T. (Master of Arts in Teaching), con especialización en literatura hispana y española. En realidad fue una continuación de los estudios que había empezado en Skidmore, pero también se me dio la oportunidad de obtener experiencia en la enseñanza. Durante los dos años que estudié en Boston College, pude enseñar varias clases del primer año de español mientras cursaba mis estudios.
Al recibir mi diploma de Boston College, obtuve una posición en una escuela secundaria llamada Brooks School. Durante los ocho años que trabajé en Brooks, tuve la oportunidad de enseñar todos los niveles de español desde el primer año hasta la clase de "Advanced Placement Spanish Literature", una de mis clases favoritas. Por razones familiares, dejé la enseñanza durante un período de 6 años para dedicarme al cuidado de mis dos hijas. Hace tres años que estoy de regreso en Brooks, enseñando varias clases de español. Debo mencionar que durante los 6 años que dejé la enseñanza, trabajé en la empresa de mi esposo en mi tiempo libre. El es un distribuidor de marcapasos y también un consultor en computación. Tuve muchas oportunidades de usar el español con sus clientes y pacientes. Vivimos en un área donde hay una gran población de hispanohablantes.
Nací y me crié en Venezuela de madre venezolana y padre estadounidense, pero como asistí a una escuela internacional, nunca estudié literature hispana o española hasta que ingresé a Skidmore. La base que recibí durante aquellos cuatro años me dio un impulso excelente para continuar mis estudios, y al mismo tiempo fue la primera vez que pude apreciar la riqueza literaria del mundo hispano. Es más, frecuentemente utilizo la información que aprendî en aquellas clases de Skidmore, con mis propios alumnus.
Jane Baldwin Henzerling '97, Spanish
I live and work in Phoenix, Ariz. After graduating from Skidmore, I served as a Teach For America corps member in Phoenix, where I earned my teaching certification with a bilingual endorsement. Currently I am pursuing an M.Ed. in educational leadership at Northern Arizona University.
Every day I put my knowledge of Spanish language and Hispanic culture to use as a bilingual elementary school teacher. Not only does my command of the language enable me to communicate with my students, help them acquire academic content, and aid them in improving their literacy skills in Spanish and English, it shows them and their families how much I value them and their cultural backgrounds. Given that Spanish is not my native language, it also models for students and families the importance and enjoyment of acquiring a second language.
In addition to my teaching duties, I serve as the Bilingual Program coordinator at Ed & Verma Pastor School. In this role, I coordinate language programming, student assessment, and staff development workshops related to language acquisition. I also work to influence district and state language policy to better meet the needs of English Language Learners.
Katie Huss '05, German
I graduated in 2005 with a double major in German and art history. I am currently living in Vienna, Austria, working as an English language teaching assistant with the Fulbright Commission. I received the position in 2005 when I graduated and chose to remain a second year because I was enjoying myself so much. I am certainly using my language skills now, although not so much in my job as in my day-to-day life. I studied abroad twice while at Skidmore: once in the summer of 2003 on the SACI program in Florence and with IES in Vienna in the fall of 2003. I found both experiences really just whet my appetite so to speak for living and working abroad and were a major factor in my decision to apply for jobs overseas after graduating.