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Graduate Alumni

Samar Miled Heading link

Samar Miled

I was born and raised in Tunisia where I studied and taught French literature for many years. In 2017, I moved to Chicago to complete an MA in French literature. My research at UIC explored the image of Muslims in French and Francophone literature and arts, and diving into such a topic allowed me to build a stronger relationship with North African literature. My inspiring experience as a teacher and a graduate student at UIC was the starting point for my academic trajectory in the US. In fact, right after I completed my MA in Chicago, I joined the Romance studies department at Duke University as a PhD student in 2019. Today, my main interests are: postcolonial studies, feminist studies, and resistance and social movements in Tunisia and the Maghreb. In December 2020, I published my first poetry book: Tunisie Sucrée-Salée. I wrote many of my poems during my stay in Chicago: travelling and studying abroad helped me reunite both poetically and academically with my country.

Carissa (Wilson) Coons Heading link

Carissa Coons

There are really not enough words to describe how valuable UIC’s Master of Arts program in French has been for me – both personally and professionally. My original goal in pursuing a master’s in French was to gain a better command of the language and a deeper understanding of Francophone culture in order to improve my skills as a high school French teacher. There is no doubt that I graduated from UIC with greater confidence in my teaching abilities, but what I did not expect were the additional opportunities that would come my way as a result of all I gained through this program.

After graduating and spending a few years teaching French, I pursued a master’s in international higher education and took a position at an international organization overseeing its youth protection efforts in over 150 countries around the world. I later spent time working with the U.S. Center for SafeSport, managing the implementation of a comprehensive set of policies aimed at preventing child sexual abuse in athletic organizations affiliated with the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic movements. And most recently, in my current role, I oversee youth protection for the University of Southern California, where I am working to strengthen and support hundreds of youth-serving organizations to operate safely and protect minors engaging with the university.

I’ve learned that having a background in French is not only useful if you want to be a teacher. In fact, it led me to new opportunities and it’s been essential in every position I’ve held – from holding presentations or conducting onsite audits in French, to using the intercultural competencies I developed to work with people from a variety of different backgrounds and cultures. It goes without saying that I will always be incredibly grateful for this program for so many reasons. And much of this is due to the passionate faculty and staff who supported me during my time there; not only are they talented and knowledgeable experts in their fields, but their love of teaching and desire to help students grow truly sets this program apart. I mean it when I say that I can’t imagine where I’d be if not for French at UIC!

Sarah (Kaye) Whalen Heading link

I completed the MA program in French and Francophone Studies at UIC in 2011, and I was incredibly fortunate to have participated in an exchange program in Paris for the second year of the program.  During my year in Chicago, I had the chance to teach beginning level French to undergraduate students, and while each day presented itself with new discoveries and challenges, I found myself motivated by their desire to learn and communicate in French.

My year abroad in Paris taught me invaluable lessons in French both in my personal and professional life.  I consider this time abroad the best experience of my life, and without this opportunity, I would never have been able to compete in today’s job market.

I am so thrilled to currently be the Assistant Director of the French Institute of the North Shore, a language school specializing in teaching French to adults, and the French School, an immersion pre- school and kindergarten program for children aged 2-6.

Mary Guidone Heading link

I completed my MA in French at the University of Illinois at Chicago and my BA with Honors in French and Spanish from Central Connecticut State University in New Britain, CT. After graduating from UIC, I was offered a full-time position there as a Visiting Lecturer. I have also taught at Coastal Carolina University and Eastern New Mexico University.

My experience in the French and Francophone Studies department as a graduate student at UIC was one that not only broadened my knowledge of French language and culture, but helped me share these new discoveries with the undergraduates in the basic language courses I taught; as a result, many of my former students have gone on to declare French majors or minors and to study abroad in France and other French-speaking countries.

I am currently a Continuing Lecturer of French at the University of California, Merced, the newest of the UC campuses. My time as a graduate student at UIC, as well as my experiences teaching there and at other universities, make me an important resource to the student community and a valuable addition to the faculty at UC Merced.

Julie Hugonny Heading link

I earned my M.A. in French in the Department of French and Francophone Studies at UIC in 2008, and I couldn’t have dreamt of a better place to live, work, study and grow as a scholar. The classes were challenging, and the professors teaching them knowledgeable and engaging. As a graduate student, I was given the opportunity to research my own areas of interest, Monsters in French literature and Science Fiction films, and have in the process created course syllabi I still use to this day in the French courses I teach. Studying at UIC gave me a strong foundation in teaching methods and experiences, and pushed me to develop my skills as a researcher, a scholar and an instructor. The professors of the Department strike the right balance between intellectual rigor and creative freedom and foster their students’ intellectual curiosity. Since then, I went on to earn a PhD from New York University in 2014, and have continued my academic career, teaching French language, literature, culture and cinema, as well as history, translation and sustainability in places such as the College of William and Mary (VA), Yale University (CT), and the Georgia Institute of Technology (GA). I am currently a Lecturer in French at the University of Stirling in Scotland, and I continue building on what I learned in the Department of French and Francophone Studies at UIC. I wouldn’t be where I am without the opportunities offered to me by UIC and the fantastic team of scholars teaching there.

Ana Sekler Heading link

Ana Sekler

I graduated from UIC with an MA in French in 2008 and from DePaul University with a BA in Secondary Education-French in 2002. After graduating, I taught French as an adjunct instructor at Loyola University, Columbia College, and Harold Washington City College for 10 years. While I enjoyed teaching, I grew tired of the adjunct circuit and switched gears in 2014, when I decided to pursue an MA in New Arts Journalism at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

I continue to work in higher education, currently at UIC for the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Advancement, where I create and manage content. Studying French at UIC taught me how to communicate and research effectively. Whether it means preparing for a French class or communicating via the content I develop in my current role, clearly organizing, stating, and researching my ideas were skills cultivated during my time at UIC.

I keep up my French by reading novels, watching films, meeting with Francophone friends, and traveling. I am grateful for the professors and friends I met while at UIC who remained people I could connect with and learn from during the various paths my professional life took.

Adéwolé Faladé Heading link

I was born and grew up in Cotonou, BENIN. After graduating from a French high school, I moved to Paris and graduate with a Master’s in Anglophone Literature, Civilization and Language, with a specialization in literary translation and a minor in linguistics at La Sorbonne. My curiosity then took me to Chicago where I attended the University of Illinois at Chicago and graduated with another Master’s in French Literature. During the 3 years I spent at UIC, I was giving the opportunity to take seminars in culture, globalization, national identity, post colonial theories. That period also allowed me to teach the French language as well as the French and Francophone culture. Following my graduation, I started working for a private language school, culture center and translation agency as a French ambassador. I diffuse the French and Francophone culture through the classes I teach to adults and children. I help my students acquire a tool they will use for their work, or for their personal lives (communicating with their in-laws for example). I use my free time to volunteer as a French interpreter at the Marjorie Kovler (part of Heartland Alliance), center for the treatment of the survivors of torture. I mainly work in collaboration with West Africans. They appreciate my commitment and help to facilitate their integration in their new “home”. Mastering English and French comes in handy. This is a perfect chance to practice French and help at the same time.  Studying at UIC was also an excellent opportunity to quench my passion for languages. I took Spanish and German classes. (I speak and/or understand Fon, French, English, Spanish, German, Portuguese, Arabic). My position as a French ambassador at Multilingual Chicago definitely opens doors to many different languages and experiences in a multicultural environment.