French Alumni + Friends



Keely Loh

Keely Loh, B.A./B.S. 
French and Cognitive Science

I studied French in high school and initially took French classes at UC Davis as a way to fulfill the language requirement to receive a B.A. However, I fell in love with the major through great learning experiences with the faculty and making connections with my peers! The courses captured my interest and the professors are all so engaging that I really enjoyed taking French classes each quarter! I would suggest that students who are new to UC Davis take a wide variety of classes to fulfill their GE requirements — it is a great time to explore different subjects and find new passions. For example, the French major introduced me to the subject of linguistics, which I never would have considered studying before, but it was one of my favorite things to learn about! The French major taught me a lot about how people communicate and pushed me to think critically about our increasingly globalized world. This is incredibly useful to me in my current work in education.
Studying literature, linguistics, and culture through the French major helped me practice many transferable skills (such as speaking, presenting, and analysis) and opened my eyes to many topics that inform my worldview. Classes on decolonization are especially relevant to me as an educator who is interested in culturally and historically responsive pedagogy! I absolutely recommend pursuing a major in French because it is so rewarding to study another language and it is so friendly to add as a double major. The faculty are amazing and the major makes up a very close-knit community that helps you feel more connected on a large campus like UC Davis! I made lifelong friends and really rounded out my education by completing the French major.


Brenna Gallagher, B.A. 
French and Anthropology
I was a double major in French and Anthropology. I have always loved the French language and culture and the diversity of people. The classes are fun and motivating, I recommend going to office hours. I’m currently finishing my Master's in Art and Cultural Management at ICART in Bordeaux, France. I’m working as a luxury travel manager in Bordeaux.


Aliyah Romero, B.A.
French and International Relations
French was my favorite subject throughout high school, so I knew I wanted to continue studying it in college. I took the French placement test at the beginning of my first-year of college and was able to skip the introductory series. Once I started taking classes, I just couldn’t stop. The French courses I took at UC Davis were some of the best, most memorable courses I took during undergrad. In addition, given my interest in working in global health, I knew that strengthening my French skills via the French major would be an asset given the high-demand for French speakers in the sector. 
Don’t compare your college experience to others. Yes, make the most out of your experience while you’re at UC Davis because it truly does go by so quickly, but don’t feel discouraged if it doesn’t end up feeling like “the best time of your life.” College has its ups and downs, so it’s important to have a support system, whatever that may look like for you (friends, professors, student organizations, etc.). Get involved if you can, but don’t feel like you need to over extend yourself either. Use this time to explore your interests, but also know that it’s okay if you realize halfway through your first semester that you’re in the wrong major. It happened to me, and I ended up finding majors that were more aligned with my interests: International Relations and French. 
I studied abroad at the University of Bordeaux for one semester as a Gilman scholar. It was a great experience given that I wanted to go abroad to strengthen my French skills and finally put them to the test. Being fully immersed in the language can be daunting at first, but over time your skills will strengthen dramatically. I also took a course in French with French students, which was a challenging, yet rewarding experience as it further cemented my French skills. I also made lifelong friends (both UCEAP and international) while living in Bordeaux and made tons of incredible memories. 
After college, I worked as an English Language Assistant through TAPIF where I lived in a small town outside of Lille helping middle school English teachers with their language instruction. Even though I was teaching English, I was utilizing French in all other contexts, including when I would help the teachers I worked with with the creation of lesson plans. Moreover, I currently intern for the Yale Global Health Leadership Initiative (GHLI) where I work on multiple Francophone programs related to health systems strengthening. My internship requires a significant amount of French-English and English-French translation, which I would not have had the skills to perform had I not taken French at UC Davis, studied abroad in France, and later lived in France again to work as an English Language Assistant. I will also add that the courses I took with Professor Warner exploring France’s colonial history and the lasting impact that it has had on their former colonies has also been useful as a MPH candidate at Yale concentrating in Global Health and throughout my internship at GHLI.


Georgianna Horton

Georgianna Horton, B.A. 
French and Economics
I double majored in French and Economics during my studies at UCD. I learned a lot about the world while doing a foreign language. The people in the classes are all interesting, professors and students alike and great resources. Anything you choose to learn about or really, anything you’re interested in will eventually come around again in your life; whether it be a foreign language that you take for 9 quarters or an archaeology class you randomly, sign up for. It comes back to be useful for you. After graduation, I worked with the TAPIF program, teaching English in Northern France for a year. Currently I’m in an M.A. program at Sacramento State.


Danielle Preston, B.A. 
I decided to be a French major because I felt an intuitional draw to it. I had not taken any French language courses previously because the schools I grew up in did not offer it as a foreign language. It was discouraging at first. I got some C's and was surrounded by students who had studied French for many years, but I stuck to it and graduated with a French degree. I followed a gut feeling to study French and just went with it and because I followed my heart, everything worked out in unbelievably beautiful ways. 
My favorite thing about UCD was the wide selection of courses I was able to take. As a French major I had to fill up my course requirements with 'random' classes, ranging from the tree class where we rode bikes around the whole city and learned about trees, to French cinema, to an entomology/art course where I got to make art about insects. As a language major I was able to do these things, I know from fellow friends in other majors that required more units specific to their major did not have as much time as I did to take other courses that were maybe considered random but were extremely interesting and fun. My other favorite thing about UCD was the cooperative housing, the Domes. Changed my life in beautiful ways. Would recommend visiting for a potluck any weekday at 7pm.
After graduating I applied to TAPIF, a program to teach English in France. I was accepted and was assigned to be an English teaching assistant in a primary school near Lyon in a little village where I lived with a host family. Incredible experience, I absolutely recommend it to all students in the French department! I met the most amazing, inspiring people while there this year and I have grown tremendously mentally and spiritually because of living in France for the year. I fell in love with Lyon and decided I had to stay for another year (maybe more). I applied to several schools, different jobs and also to TAPIF for round 2. I needed a plan A, B, and C, whatever it took to get a visa to stay there for another year. I ended up getting into a school and into TAPIF, so that is taken care of! I also met a French boy whom I fell in love with, and I'll be living in the raddest place in Lyon with my French artist friend. Wow, so thank you French department at UCD for teaching me French and all the beauty it has to offer.


Colton McCormick

Colton McCormick, B.A.
French and Economics
I was a double major in French and Economics while attending UCD. I enjoyed the feeling of a team and collaboration and positive energy. I have nothing but great things to say about colleagues, staff and faculty in the French Department. Take all the courses you can while on campus, study abroad if your schedule and time allows and take the time to get to know the French faculty and graduate students, they are amazing and helpful. I’m currently in sales; I was first with EJ Gallo and now I’m in Denver working sales with Sumo Logic.


Rebecca Berry

Rebecca Berry, B.A.
French and International Relations
I double majored in international relations and French and minored in Spanish. I've pretty much had one job since graduating, working at a non-profit in the inner city of San Francisco that provides services to those below the poverty line and dealing with homelessness. This environment led me to pursue a master's degree. I attended Crown College online & recently received my M.A. in global leadership with an emphasis in Biblical studies. 
Time on campus at Davis vastly expanded my worldview. I grew up in a somewhat diverse population, however the environment of students and professors at Davis utterly expanded that and helped me learn so much more about the world and different perspectives. As seen in the degrees I have pursued, I have a great interest in different cultures, and what it looks like to work effectively across cultures & how different people can learn from one another, etc. 
The French department opened the door to studying the history, culture & society of France overall which gave me a deep love and appreciation for the nation. This was amplified by spending a year abroad in Lyon, France--an invaluable experience. 
Be a sponge. I'm highly confident that most--if not all--students entering into Davis bring unique insight, ability, and are highly intellectual. Yet, there is always more to learn. There is always more you will not have realized, or a facet of a situation that you have not yet examined. Do not be too focused on what you believe to be true that you reject anything that falls outside the parameters of your worldview. Give yourself the freedom of open-mindedness, while also not blindly accepting all things as true simply because it is what you are taught. Think critically about the world and the things you learn, and know that you have valuable thoughts and perspective to offer as well. My hope is that new students entering Davis will see the joy in learning and that this will help develop them into thoughtful, compassionate, intellectuals.

Michelle Lee, B.A.
French and English
After I graduated from UCD, I took a year off to be part of the TAPIF program, where I taught English to French high schoolers for several months. Now I'm a French graduate student at UC Berkeley this fall. I never really knew I'd be a French major. It started off as a language requirement for my English major and I grew to love the language so much that I majored in it. The great thing about the French major is that it isn't very long and you can finish all your requirements in good time while still completing another major if you wish. I originally thought that French would just be a great complement to my English major, but now it's opened my life to much more exciting things like travel, more job opportunities, and the ability to immerse myself in another culture and make friendships I wouldn't have made if I didn't speak the language. UCD was a wonderful experience and if you're majoring in French, you're in for some of the nicest, caring, and encouraging professors I have ever met. Yes, the French department and major is small, but it gives you the advantage of being in a close-knit community and the professors will always have time for you. Make sure you practice your conversations and don't pass up the opportunity to travel or study abroad. I learned most of my French in Davis, so I was always shy to speak to native speakers or practice French with my classmates. Don't make the same mistake I did and not talk to anyone because you don't have confidence in your ability. Making mistakes is part of the learning process and you'll get the feel for the language quickly if you visit Francophone countries as well.


Michelle Halstead, B.A.
French and Animal Science
I hadn't planned on taking French at all in college, but was presented with the unique opportunity to live on a dairy farm in the middle of Normandy during the summer of 2012. I took my first French class the spring before I left to prepare for the summer. Since then, I've discovered a love for linguistics, thanks to Russell's FRE 109 class, and my bookshelf is full of French novels and plays that I've collected from used bookstores. French became much more to me than just a language. It was a different perspective, and the possibility of traveling, living, and working somewhere outside of the United States continues to excite me. Everyone in the French department has contributed in some way to tailoring my education to my interests, so thank you all so much!

Johanna Kanes, B.A. 
International Relations and French
I really enjoyed my time in the French major. Originally I pursued the French minor to keep up my language skills, however I liked the program an awful lot so I switched to a French double major with International Relations! I’m currently in consulting and missing Davis very much!

Zena Kolbe-Saltzman, B.A. 
My confidence and love for the French language flourished while studying French at UC Davis. Learning the history of the language as well as studying its literature and other art forms made me very aware of the impact of French society on the whole world. I pursued French because I did not want to lose the language and I had heard about the university's excellent French Department prior to coming to UC Davis.  I also minored in Environmental Horticulture because I realized my passion for plants late in sophomore year and have fallen in love with all things plants.  Now that I have graduated, I am back in San Francisco working at a flower shop and hopefully interning with Friends of the Urban Forest until December while plotting my move to France in the coming year or so.


Lauren Menagh, B.A. 
French and Psychology
After graduating from UC Davis, I decided to take a job with the nonprofit organization Boys and Girls Club. In this position, I facilitate several after-school programs that aim to help kids grow academically and socially. I have even initiated a French program! This job conveniently utilizes both my Psychology and French degrees, and I find myself thankful every day that I obtained degrees in my two passions from UCD.