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Why Study French?
In the global environment in which we live, French is a valuable asset to careers in many fields. Students in French at SLU are preparing careers in medicine, business, law, politics, and the humanities, to name a few. Below you will find some insight on the role French plays in the lives and future careers of SLU students.
Amir Zakhary (Class of 2017)
"My name is Amir Zakhary, and I am senior who is a dual French and Biology Pre-Med student. Coming into college, I actually wanted to take Arabic as my language core requirement; yet, Arabic was not offered so I took a French course instead. After this one very interesting class, I decided to take one more class. Then, I decided to Minor in French because of how enticing the courses were and how engaged the professors were in my success. After a couple more courses in my Minor that really challenged my thought process, I decided that I really needed to Major in French. My story is unique in that I never had planned to Major in French, but it was one of the best decisions I have made. Biology gave me the resources to understand the physical world around me, but French opened me up to business, immigration, health, and global issues. I always say that biology shows me what I can do, but French has allowed me to see what I should pursue.
"I was offered two interviews to Medical School this Fall semester, and when I mentioned that I was pursuing French, both interviewers were absolutely shocked that I was studying French. When I was asked about my most challenging group project in college, I mentioned that it was in my French & International Relations course, where three students and myself represented Algeria and spoke in French about global issues, akin to the UN. When asked about my biggest successes and challenges, I mentioned the challenges of leading a group as special as Pi Delta Phi, the French Honor Society, but overcoming the struggles by having a passionate board of students and mentors who have contributed to the great turnouts at the events. From fulfilling the Core Curriculum requirements, to Minoring, to Majoring, to leading Phi Delta Phi, French has grown in my heart as not only a subject, but also a different way of looking at the world and a new reason to pursue medicine.
"I will say that between Biology and French Majors, the latter has been the more challenging. It has challenged me to get out of my comfort zone of English and start thinking in ways that could help people. For example, how to offer a clean, sustainable water source to an isolated population in central Africa or how to prevent the spread of Zika and Malaria. I encourage people to pursue French because it helps one better understand the world and to be more prepared to help our planet in any form that one wants. French also helps a person achieve his or her goals.
"As someone who has recently been accepted to Medical School, I am confident that a big part of the reason that I was accepted was because of my interest in French. As a French Major and as one of the leaders of Pi Delta Phi, I am glad to say that I have 5 "advisors" in the French Department. These are professors who let me meet with them with no appointment necessary. College is certainly a challenge, but as I reflect on the last three and a half years, I am thankful that I had French and the French program by my side."
Margaret Veale (Class of 2016)
"I was accepted to Saint Louis University's entry-level physical therapy doctorate program as a freshman and I was informed that I needed to have a minor with my degree so as to remain a well-rounded student. Many students picked psychology or special education, as they often have applications in the various fields of health care. However, I was the only person to pick French as my minor. I did this because I had always loved French and I was very active in the French club at my high school, and I figured I would always find pleasure in French whether it applied directly to my degree or not.
"At this point in time French has become a second major thanks to credits I attained while studying abroad and I could not be more pleased to have kept a personal interest of mine so central in my academic career. I would often be bogged down by the mandatory prerequisites like Biology and Chemistry where I was one of 400 students in the lecture hall. I enjoy science classes, but it's different in college where it verges on the impersonal and systematic. However, I always had my dear French class to look forward to during the week every semester. Each French course I was enrolled in had no more than about 12 students, was very personal, and every day had something new to teach me that I would probably never learn in a general education class. There was something special about this environment where I could briefly escape from my rigorous program and talk about something other than labs and data.
"I've always had a wide range of interests and majoring in French allowed me to remain well-rounded and learn a lot about myself and the world as a whole. Fortunately I had the opportunity to take a semester abroad in Poitiers, France. I learned a lot about how people in different cultures may think differently than I do in similar situations, a very applicable skill for physical therapy. I took only French culture and language classes which allowed for a pause in my PT program curriculum. I am so grateful for this experience because while I love my PT courses, it gave me a different educational dimension that helped prevent getting too burnt out before the professional phase of the program began. Now I have returned from France and I am pursuing my PT degree with energy and excitement!
"Vital characteristics of a health care professional include the ability to be open-minded, flexible, and notably for PT, creative. My experience with the French program here at SLU has truly helped me develop these aspects in myself and to apply them to other parts of my education. By becoming involved in a substantially different major I was able to keep a fresh perspective as I continued with my studies. I was never too caught up solely by my Core courses because I was always able to come up for air in my French classes and be able to pursue my other interests. For this I am exceptionally thrilled with my decision to Major in a field that at first did not seem to apply to my profession. Fortunately it does apply and will certainly continue to apply in an area where openness to others and the ability to see from different perspectives are crucial skills."