The Citadel

The Military College of South Carolina

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Why Learn French?

Graduate Testimonials
The following endorsements are from Citadel graduates whose language degrees have afforded them exceptional opportunities. To include your testimonial, e-mail Dr. Strobbe.

Bonjour à tous et à toutes! Back in my day as a cadet, we had to declare our major prior to arriving for Knob Week. I chose to major in French, one of my favorite classes back at my high school in Interlachen, Florida. In our first week, we were marched off to meet with our faculty advisors, when I soon learned that I was the only French major in our class at that juncture. Happily, others of my classmates later joined the major, but there were never very many of us in the upper-division classes, so we got plenty of attention from our faculty members (Drs. McRae and Emory). I benefitted from a study-abroad program between my sophomore and junior years, with a one-week stint in Limoges, another week in La Rochelle, capped with a month in Paris. In addition to French, I also began studying Spanish, while still a cadet.

After my graduation in spring of 1987, I began working on my M.A. in French at the University of South Carolina the following fall. While there, I was able to take advantage of another study-abroad opportunity in which I worked for two years as a lecteur d’anglais at a French university in Mulhouse, France, before returning to Columbia to complete my master’s degree in December 1992. After taking a year off from my studies to teach as a French and Spanish lecturer at the University of Virginia’s satellite campus in Wise, Virginia, I began work on my doctorate in French at the University of Florida, which I completed in spring 1999, while also taking graduate classes in Spanish. I specialized in Eighteenth-Century Studies and French literature.

While working on my dissertation, I taught in an I.B. French program at a high school in Ocala, Florida, after which I landed my first tenure-track position at Georgia Southwestern State University in Americus, Georgia, where I taught both French and Spanish and where I stayed for four years before moving onto Clayton State University in metro Atlanta. I have been at Clayton State for twelve years, and am a tenured, full professor of French and Spanish. While there, I have served as the chairman of the Department of Language and Literature and then later the Department of Humanities, and am currently the department’s foreign language coordinator.

In my scholarly career, I have been very active in the Southeastern American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, and have served as a board member and the society’s president. I recently became the co-editor of the society’s journal XVIII New Perspectives on the Eighteenth Century. I have published one monograph, edited four volumes, and published multiple scholarly articles, with ongoing projects in the works. My primary contribution to the world of letters, however, has been as a translator from French to English: I have published many scores of translations, especially of French comic books for the North American market. The latter have come in all manner of genres, ranging from a revived Classics Illustrated series replete with Jules Verne adaptations to new translations of Peyo’s Smurfs volumes.

2015 Testimonial, E. Joe Johnson '87


I thoroughly enjoyed my experiences as a French and Spanish major at The Citadel.  As a freshman, I was encouraged by supportive faculty to pursue a double major in French and Spanish and the department did an amazing job to rearrange schedules so that none of the classes I needed overlapped one another.  I had the opportunity to take many classes that highlighted many different fields of study in each language.  From film classes to writing classes to literature classes to music classes, I was able to immerse myself in both the French and Spanish worlds of culture.  I learned about many countries and was even able to visit some of them by studying abroad. In the summer of 2008, I was fortunate enough to visit the town of Montpellier, France and study French at L’ Institut Linguistique du Peyrou. It was a dream of mine to study abroad and our experience was wonderful. With Dr. Toubiana, we traveled to many cities in Southern France on the weekends and got to see so many historical and important areas of the country. I was able to meet many international students, some of whom I am still friends with today, and was able to better my French by living with a host family. In the summer of 2009, I traveled with Dr. Medina and Dr. Urroz’s group to Alcalá de Henares outside of Madrid, Spain and where Miguel de Cervantes was form. Again, I stayed with a host family and studied Spanish History of Art and Spanish History at the University of Alcalá. We enjoyed many adventures to historical sites, beautiful art galleries, and got to try so many delicious Spanish foods.

I have benefitted from my study of languages at The Citadel because I had a much more individualized learning experience with smaller classes and professors who deeply cared about their fields of study and their students. Because of my experiences studying abroad and learning languages, my husband’s two-year move to Japan was much easier to me and thus, on our family. There, I was able to use the knowledge I gained from The Citadel to teach French, Spanish, and English to Japanese students. I highly recommend The Citadel’s Modern Language Department to anyone hoping to pursue a very well-rounded study of language and I am grateful for the opportunity to graduate from such a valuable program. Learning a language opens so many doors of possibility, whether it is new friends, new ways of thinking, or a window to a culture different to one’s own, learning languages connects us to the world and I am thankful to be part of that. 

Sarah Moore, Double Major French & Spanish, 2015


As a recent Citadel graduate and French major, I can attest to the effectiveness and quality of the section and honestly say that I would not be where I am today without the guidance and support of the superior faculty.

I graduated in the May of 2008, having majored in both history and French, minored in international relations and non-Western studies, and studied in London, Paris, and Istanbul. Professor Toubiana first recognized my abilities as a freshman and encouraged me to build on my foundation in French, eventually instructing me in the literature of the philosophes as well as the common words and phrases in business in the Francophone world. Professor Emory began as my supervisor for my part-time job in the Modern Language Lab, but over the years became a teacher, advisor, and valued friend, who improved my knowledge of the French language. Professor Jellenik worked with me as advisor to both the Modern Language Student Council and the French Club, always keeping her door open to cadets who wanted to practice their French or just needed a kind word of encouragement. Without her encouragement and support, I doubt that I would have accepted my MA candidacy here at Johns Hopkins Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies. While other professors believed the cost of the program to be too much, she saw that it was a necessary step for me to take and pushed me to follow my dream.

Today I am beginning my second year at SAIS, concentrating in international economics and European studies. I have just completed a year of study in Bologna, Italy and a summer as a full-time intern at the State Department here in Washington DC. I have been able to continue my internship as a part-time Co-Op student, which drastically improves my chances of fulfilling my dream of becoming an area analyst at DoS, specializing in Turkish affairs. The French section gave me the credentials to receive a Critical Language Grant to Turkey during the summer of 2008. None of this would have been possible without my knowledge of foreign language and cultures provided through the French Section at The Citadel.

The section is a manifestation of the tradition of excellence The Citadel strives to uphold.

John Lathers, '08

In my short time at The Citadel, I finished a four year French program in three and a half years while graduating Magna Cum Laude. In addition to my French major, I also took four semesters of Spanish along with my normal French classes. I was able to study abroad twice in college as well. I spent a lot of time on the second floor of Capers Hall. None of this would have been possible without the support of the professors of the French Section.

I took the majority of my major classes with Drs. Jellenik, Toubiana, and Emory. Dr. Emory was also my academic advisor. The first time that I mentioned that I wanted to study abroad, Dr. Emory provided me with a wealth of information. He stayed late on several occasions to help me find places to live and which classes I needed to take while I was abroad. When I said that I needed help paying for it, he said that he recommended me for the Olmstead Grant. Within a few months, I received the grant and spent the summer of 2007 in Lyon, France.

In the spring semester of 2008, Dr. Emory informed me that I could finish my degree a semester early if I did a Maymester course. I spoke to Dr. Jellenik rearranged her schedule to include an upper-level French course for Maymester 2008. Also during that semester, Dr. Toubiana invited me to join him on the study abroad program in Montpellier, France for the summer. He also helped me earn a scholarship that paid for my instruction. I cannot begin to describe how much I learned that summer. The instruction in the Maymester course was excellent preparation for my third study abroad experience. Not only did I discover many new aspects in my field, I also found out many aspects of other cultures. During my final semester, I saw the same care and passion from Drs. Jellenik and Toubiana as I did from Dr. Emory. They were always available for help, very willing to offer any kind of instruction they could, and would stay as long as needed.

It is in no small part because of the knowledge and ardor of these instructors that I was so successful throughout college. I have been on active duty in the US Air Force for almost six months now and I am about halfway through Phase I of Undergraduate Pilot Training. Our military trains many foreign students how to fly and my base is no exception. In fact, my class has two Japanese students, one Jordanian, and one Peruvian. My experiences in studying languages, cultures, and international relations at The Citadel have helped me interact with and even help several of these international student pilots already. Many of them do not come from NATO countries. Because I know what it is like to be learning a new language and be in a situation that required me to use it, I have helped several of these individuals with getting acclimated to this country. It has been like a reverse study abroad experience.

I could write a book about how the French Section has helped shape my life. I hope that future students are able to gain the same perspective and insight that I have, all while enjoying the same successes. Thank you for your support.

Bryan Hladik, '09
2nd Lieutenant,USAF

The Citadel's Modern Languages, Literatures & Cultures Department is an important institution, serving not only student interests but also those of the School of Humanities and ultimately the Citadel itself. The French Section excels in providing a basic tenet of the social sciences, the study of a living foreign language. Moreover, exposure to unique ideas and diverse people is an invaluable part of any school of humanities. The French Section at the Citadel distinctly succeeds in representing Charleston as a historic city, participating in a well-entrenched Charlestonian Huguenot tradition and a French-American friendship that is important within areas of military, politics, and business during modern times. For example, South Carolina's deep involvement in playing host to Michelin exemplifies a close bond and profitable interest between South Carolineans and Frenchmen alike. Within the military, UN alliances and coalition efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq over the past ten years have proven that French-English communication is crucial in all stages of coordinated combat. It is in this way that the French Section's mere existence promotes the legitimacy of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences to outside entities who may be competing for allocating resources. It is in the quality of its professors and their instruction that pushes the French Section at the Citadel to the forefront of modern languages study.

My personal experience as a student of the French language at the Citadel, and now as a graduate holding a bachelor degree in French, has afforded me considerable insight into the inner workings and outside successes of the Citadel's French program. My experience with the French program started with an accurate diagnostic test, which verified my high school efforts put toward the French language and capitalized on them in order to strengthen and deepen my understanding of not only the theory of the French language, but also its practical uses. I was placed in French 301, Advanced cConversation. My early advanced placement provided helpful one-on-one time with professors and a smaller class size that was more conducive to correcting specific language misunderstandings.

During my four years as a French major, I was fortunate to encounter the talent and dedication of four excellent professors who all provided theoretical, practical and experience-based approaches to understanding and using the French language. Among them were two natural-born French professors, Dr. Toubiana and M. Glacet, and two professors who have spent considerable time abroad and have an exceptional grasp of the mechanics and practice of the French language: Dr. Jellenik and Dr. Emory.

The quality of their careful instruction, as well as their availability after-hours and their scrupulous testing techniques probed my general knowledge of the French language and then invited me to consider multiple areas of specific study. I found my courses to be enjoyable and challenging. Courses such as medieval French Literature expanded my cultural and historical knowledge of France as well as explained the complex and technical evolution of the language itself. Courses like business French trained my understanding of French to a more specific area of study, involving transactions, applying for company promotions, and drafting business orders.

Due to the quality of instruction I had received in three semesters of study at the Citadel, I was able to successfully participate in a semi-autonomous study abroad program at the University of Grenoble, France, in spring of 2007. I lived in an apartment in the middle of a bustling French city while attending classes such as economics, translation, and literature, all taught in French. I even found a side job as a bartender during nights at a local pub. Because of my technical understanding, I successfully earned As in all of my classes that semester. Because of my practical understanding of French, I still have many friends in Grenoble to call upon.

Despite my unforgettable experience abroad, I returned from France to attend the Citadel once more in the fall of 2007. My proficiency in French was sharpened further during the next two years with class discussions that merged into areas of French politics, literature and culture. I was elected to participate in extra-curricular clubs such as the French Club, Pi Delta Phi, and the Modern Languages Student Council. The dedication of teachers and students alike was palpable in the organization, encouragement and administrative networking that were involved with events such as the Modern Languages Awards Banquet, movie nights and inter-collegiate meetings. Combined efforts afforded unique opportunities for cadets to practice leadership and achieve meaningful goals within a language-specific learning environment, as well as branching out to connect with College of Charleston's similar efforts.

I am confident that my study of French has also spurned an interest and distinct insight into the English language. Many of my classmates and peers will agree that a Latin-based understanding of any Romance language will provide an invaluable perspective on the English language. The study of a language's mechanics, meaning and usage is a useful tool for any area of the social sciences. My personal interest has led me to apply to the South Carolina School of Law, to which I have been accepted. However, I plan to begin studying law following a year-long teaching assistantship in Argonay, France. I will be an aid to a French professor teaching English to fifteen-year-olds in a high school outside of Annecy. Dr. Gurganus', Dr. Emory's, Dr. Toubiana's and Dr. Jellenik's efforts were particularly useful and encouraging in helping me achieve this prestigious goal. They wrote warm and accurate recommendations in a very timely fashion, and helped me through the French Ministry of Education application process when bureaucracy got thick and tiresome. At every opportunity, I plan to promote The Citadel and its educational merits upon those whom I meet. I would be proud to introduce new francophone members into the Citadel family. It is the French Section's talent and dedication that I owe my success at The Citadel and abroad. It is because of them that the Department of Modern Languages, Literatures & Cultures will remain a bastion of tradition and enterprise for the social sciences at The Citadel.

Julius G. Siler V, '09

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