Alumni News

Congratulations 2021 Graduates
Dear 2021 Graduates:
The Colorado College French and Francophone Studies Department would like to express to you its warmest congratulations on your well-deserved success!
Even though graduation looks different for you and for us all who are cheering for you, the achievement is still the same: you have put in the same smart hard work. And you have grown and matured intellectually beyond expectations!
We could not be prouder and more honored to have been part of your accomplishments.
Again, please receive our warmest congratulations and we send you our best wishes for your next adventure!
Professor Ibrahima Wade
On behalf of the French and Francophone Studies Department
Colorado College
Our French & Francophone Studies Majors:
Hanahan, Sara S.
Holt-Auslander, Shoshana M.
Spratley, Grace R.
Our French Language Minors:
Belgrad, Jacob L.
Herman, Zachari C.
Loucks, Ellen H.
Martinez-Vivot, Elena
Seaman, Molly L.
Smith, Isabelle K.
Vierling, Emily M.

Semester in France -- Students visiting the Rain Forest at Saut du Gendarne (Martinique, April 2018)

IMG_0406 -- Semester in France

Semester in France -- Students enjoying coconut water at Saut du Gendarme (Martinique, April 2019)

IMG_0459 -- Semester in France

IMG_0455 -- Semester in France


Semester in France -- Students experiencing the feeling of raw rum in their hands (Distillery Mauny, Martinique, May 2018)

IMG_0496 -- Semester in France

Semester in France -- Student practicing traditional dance and drum session (Martinique May 2018)

IMG_0564 -- Semester in France

Students from FR320 Block 7 and residents of the French House, celebrating Senegalese Independence Day at Haskel House, April 2019

IMG_1099 -- Senegalese Ind Day

IMG_1847 -- Senegalese Ind Day

Students from FR317 in New Orleans, visiting Congo Square and a cemetery, March 2019

IMG_0845_Original -- New Orleans

IMG_0864_Original -- New Orleans

IMG_0934_Original -- New Orleans

Margaret McCleskey, '13

Maggie has been accepted into the TAPIF (Teaching Assistant Program in France) in Martinique.

Alice Gallmeyer, '08

Beyond CC, I've continued to enjoy exploring the Francophone world. I spent a school year working as an 'Assistante de langue' in Guadeloupe in the French West Indies. There, I prepared and instructed English lessons for Elementary students. I also coordinated an English language discussion group for teachers in my school district who spoke English. This was a very rich experience, and Guadeloupe is a wonderful place.

I currently serve as Program Coordinator for refugee acculturation programs at Lutheran Social Services of Michigan in my hometown of Grand Rapids, MI. We welcome refugees from all over the world; some are French speakers from Central Africa, so I speak French from time to time with these clients.

Attached are a few photos: 1) me at my favorite beach in Guadeloupe, Grande Anse, with a bokit, a traditional Guadeloupian sandwich. 2) Gwoka dancers at Carnaval, which is huge in the Caribbean. 3) View of Terre de Haut, Les Saintes, Guadeloupe. 4) Les Chutes du Carbet in the Parc National de la Guadeloupe. 5) Posing in a Llama t-shirt with a refugee family from the Democratic Republic of Congo.

In Guadeloupe, Grande Anse, with a Bokit1) me at my favorite beach in Guadeloupe,
Grande Anse, with a bokit, a traditional
Guadeloupian sandwich.

2) Gwoka dancers at Carnaval, which is
huge in the Caribbean.

3) View of Terre de Haut, Les
Saintes, Guadeloupe.

4) Les Chutes du Carbet in the
Parc National de la Guadeloupe.

5) Posing in a Llama t-shirt with a
refugee family from the
Democratic Republic of Congo.

JJohnny Reedohnny Reed, '13

Johnny was a participant in the 2013 ACM Student Symposium on Off-Campus Study.




My name is Angela Smith Kirkman, and I am a CC alum from 1995. I graduated as a Romance Languages Major, along with my husband Jason Kirkman who graduated in the same year as a Bio-Chemistry Major.

We recently returned to the US after traveling for two years around the world and homeschooling our three children. We just unveiled our new web site ( in which we are posting travelogues and recipes from around the world. A number of our friends from CC have been following the blog and urged us to share it with you so that the CC community might be able to follow our adventure.

I still don't know what foolish notion possessed us to drop everything and drag our act to a dozen countries across five continents on a two-year, around-the-world journey. Despite the irrational notions that originally motivated the expedition, we somehow survived to tell the tale. We've had two years back in the States now to regroup and re-acclimate to life as normal people. During the time since our return, my husband, Jason, and I have both been working feverishly to document everything we learned along the journey. Jason has been perfecting the recipes he learned in each country, and I have had a chance to edit all of my photographs, videos, and travelogues. We're finally ready to share anew what we learned on the road, and we hope you'll come along with us for the ride.

Before we originally set off on the journey, Jason received a grant from a non‑profit in Santa Fe that had caught wind of our harebrained scheme and funded the creation of a website, which our children used throughout the adventure to post homeschool reports, photos, and videos. Though I'm rather partial to the idea of recounting our story in the format of a Rockumentary (ala The Partridge Family), we've decided that (for now at least) perhaps the web site is the most appropriate format to share our tale.

Hence, without further ado (drum roll, please), I am very excited to introduce The (new and improved) Big Field Trip:

We plan to use the web site to highlight a different country each month and post a new recipe and travelogue from that country each week until we make our way through the material from the two years we spent on the road. We will be posting material from our new travels as well (such as our trip to Istanbul later this month) and would love to share it with you.

Here's how you can help!


  • Web site: Check out and Like our website: On the web site you can enter your email address to subscribe to our mailing list and receive a new recipe each week from Jason. (Or just return this email and tell me to get you subscribed if that's easier for you.)
  • Facebook: Like us on Facebook: Get involved in the conversations and spread the word by re-posting our posts. Recommend our site to all your Facebook friends.
  • Recipes: Try out Jason's recipes that are posted on the web site, and enter your comments about how they turn out.
  • Spread the word: Send this email or a link to our web site to all the arm-chair travelers and epicureans you know.(And, of course, it wouldn't hurt to share it with any big-wig publishers you find yourself hob-knobbing with in the elevator.)

Listen, I figure that our friends are influential enough that, even if each of you visits our site only once, our traffic will skyrocket, and we'll go viral in no time, so help us make it happen!

We'll see you there… Angela

Dayan Hochman, '07

Since college I went to law school in my home state of New Mexico. Once I graduated and became a lawyer I really didn't have much use for French in my life. However, as of next year I will be attending McGill University in Montreal to to get my Master's in Law degree in Aviation Law at the Air and Space Institute. The program is bilingual, and I am very much looking forward to practicing and using my French again in a Francophone city. Once I graduate, I am hoping to get a job with Airbus Industries headquartered in Toulouse, France.

Henry Biernacki, 1996

About my life after CC, I shall state my travels began because I knew I was going to study languages in university, and I did. I also played football and baseball. When they cut the baseball team I moved over to France.

In 1997, I went around the world, sleeping in the streets. I spent $3,700Henry Biernacki that year and was with Mother Teresa three days before she passed away. I have not stopped traveling since.

Today, I am an airline Captain and novelist. On my own time I travel(ed), lived, and explored hidden parts of the world: North Korea to Kashmir. Again, it stems from my love of languages. I have appreciated each moment I have been able to speak other languages. I am grateful to have had wonderful professors are CC, but still very strange they cut football and baseball. A school, which prides itself on diversity, has become limited in the student athletes they attract.

If you would like to see some articles I have written and or written about my travels or my novel you may view the website below. If there is something more concrete I could answer I would be happy to respond.

Henry is the author of No More Heroes. His website is

Molly Moran, '09

I graduated from CC in 2009 with a minor in French. I am currently in my fifth year at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee working on my PhD in Mathematics (which was my major at CC). I will hopefully be graduating in May 2014 or May 2015.

Since Math has taken over my focus the past several years, I have (very unfortunately) not had a lot of opportunity to use my French skills, so my update might not be as interesting for the French Department Alumni page! But, I thought I could give a few cases when it has been very useful.

As part of the graduation requirement for a doctorate in Math, I had to pass a language exam in either French, Russian, or German. My minor in French helped me pass the exam with flying colors with a very minimal amount of studying. Most of my peers had no previous language experience and had to dedicate much more time to this exam. I have also come across a few papers written in French for my research, so knowing French has been a great advantage since I do not have to struggle a lot with the translation. I have stayed in contact with some of the students I met while studying abroad in Aix-en-Provence (through the CC sponsored study abroad program) and we always try to communicate in French to keep up on our skills. I am very grateful for the opportunity I had at CC to study abroad in France as well as the summer block I took in France.

Valerie Plesch, '02

French has certainly impacted my life- before and after CC. French was the only language I could communicate in with my grandparents who were from Vietnam and Switzerland. At CC I focused on Francophone studies as part of my French minor and continue to have a deep interest in Francophone countries around the world. I spent the last 10 years working in international development, a career that took me to many developing countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Vietnam and Indonesia. The last field assignment I had was in Haiti, which was a great opportunity to use my French skills to communicate with the staff and beneficiaries. I spent three months in Haiti.

I have recently switched careers so I could pursue journalism. My CC Venture Grant to research the Vietnamese community in Senegal (under the incredible guidance of Ibrahima Wade) had a huge influence on my decision, as I knew that I loved to be immersed in other cultures to tell their stories. I plan on continuing to document similar diaspora stories around the world, especially in West Africa, as a journalist. I am confident that my French skills will be very helpful when I travel to that region again.

I'd like to add that in 2000, I spent my spring semester abroad in Perpignan, France. I had always dreamed about coming back to Perpignan and finally did-- I am writing this narrative from Perpignan! I returned 13 years later to attend the famous Visa Pour L'Image photojournalism festival. It's been an amazing experience to come back after all these years to this charming Catalan city in my new role as a journalist and to reconnect with my lovely host family.

Nathanael Burt, '12

I am currently working at Translation Excellence, a language services agency in Aurora, Colorado, and living in Denver. I began at the company as an intern in July 2012 and was hired following the internship as a project manager. Since Translation Excellence is still a relatively young company I serve a variety of roles, including: translation, project management, linguist management, accounting, business development/sales, desktop publishing, audio technician, and more. As a Romance Language major focusing in French and Spanish I am using a lot of the skills that I developed at Colorado College on a daily basis. I took a French class on translation my junior year and for my senior thesis I translated Fahrenheit 451, by Ray Bradbury, into French. This has helped me a great deal with the translations I do with the company, understanding the process of translation, and understanding the linguists that we work with. I also do a lot of quality assurance on projects and my knowledge of Spanish and French helps a great deal with this. If you are interested in the language industry, or would like to get into it, please feel free to contact me at

Annemarie Ahern, '03

Since graduating from Colorado College in 2003, I attended Culinary School at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City and then worked a number of jobs in the food industry throughout the city. Below is my bio:

Owner and chef, Annemarie is a recent New York City transplant whose experience in the food industry and culinary travels have culminated in a deep appreciation for traditional methods of cooking locally sourced ingredients. Through the school she shares the pleasures that come from sowing, growing, preserving, foraging, brewing, stewing as well as eating locally raised and farmed dishes.

Raised in Milwaukee, Annemarie spent her childhood summers in Maine at her family's blueberry farm on Blinn Hill in the town of Dresden, where she and her cousins spent days picking blueberries and building forts in the woods. After attending Colorado College, her interest in food developed while living in Aix-en-Provence, where she studied Provincial cuisine and visited the open-air markets.

A few years later she apprenticed in the kitchen at Le Jardin Notre Dame in Paris. While in New York, Annemarie worked in the editorial department at Saveur Magazine and wrote a biweekly food column for The L Magazine, entitled the "Downtown Chef." After attending the Institute of Culinary Education she worked for Dan Barber at Blue Hill Restaurant, as personal assistant to Tom Colicchio of Craft Restaurants and as a personal chef in New York. She also worked at the Slow Food Headquarters, promoting the movement and helping to increase membership. More recently, she taught classes at "Cook and Taste," a small, recreational cooking school located beside La Boqueria, in Barcelona.

Salt Water Farm is an expression of Annemarie's travels & experiences and love of cultivating new relationships as well as sharing delicious meals.

More recently, I opened a Cafe & Market in Rockport Harbor Maine. We serve simple, seasonal food to the community, the those visiting beautiful mid coast Maine.

I first learned to cook in Aix-en-Provence from a Classic French chef, who taught me the importance of the quality of ingredients. The bread, cheese, vegetables, pastries and other staples of Provincial cuisine that filled the open air markets inspired me to take cooking more seriously. Two years later, I worked at a little traditional French Bistro beside Notre Dame for 7 Algerian brothers as an apprentice. I learned how to clean foie gras, properly dress salads, even deboned a sole table side for the priest of Notre Dame! I also learned French very quickly as a waitress, with detailed orders to remember and chefs to dictate them to. My time in France certainly impacted my later years as a chef in New York and now as a cooking school instructor in Maine. It was part of the foundation of my learning and I still teach people classic French technique in addition to instinctual and resourceful cooking.

Naomi Botkin, '07

My minor in French from CC has contributed towards many of my activities in recent years. First, I compose and perform vocals in a local band in Seattle and many of our songs are in French. Second, I lived and worked in Brussels during the first half of 2012. I was completing an internship requirement for a Masters in Public Administration from the University of Washington by working with the United Nations Environment Programme. My French language skills were instrumental in my enjoying my experience and helped me land a volunteer translation job translating French web content into English for the Green Up Film Festival.


I am attaching a photo of myself on the way to the re-enactment of the Battle of Waterloo in Waterloo, Belgium.Naomi in Belgium







Andre Schunk, 1998

I'm happy to confirm that my French studies at CC helped me a great deal in my life and career. After graduation, I moved to Florida to start my career in the sports marketing/sponsorship business. After 3 years in Boca Raton, Florida, I secured an unbelievable opportunity to live and work in Paris.

From December 2000 to May 2004, my wife and I lived in a small apartment in the 20th arrondissement and loved every minute of it. We integrated as best we could and somehow managed to navigate through the intricacies of French taxes, insurance, banking, visas, and even buying a Vespa.

Professionally, I had the pleasure of working in French as well as English and German and my job took me to pretty much every corner of the country.

It was a real adventure and I can say unequivocally that my studies at CC and semester abroad in Perpignan were a key factor in allowing me to seize the international career opportunities that have been presented to me.

Shawna Johnston, '04

I graduated in 2004 with a minor in French (I did the Avignon program in spring 2002). After CC, I attended Vanderbilt University and got a master's of science in nursing. I now work as a family nurse practitioner. Even though I only studied French and no other languages, I do find that this training helps when I encounter patients whose primary language is in any of the romance languages.

Big thanks to Michael O'Riley for helping me find the funding to study abroad! A decade later, I still think it was one of the most influential of my college experiences and helped broaden and shape my world views.

~Shawna Marion (formerly Shawna Johnston)

Carissa Look, 07

Since graduating in 2007, I have worked in urban planning and political consulting in both San Francisco and Denver and also conservation in South Africa. In 2011, I began a Master's in Foreign Service at Georgetown University, where I studied human rights and democracy building. In the summer between my first and second year of graduate school, I worked for Kiva microloans in Accra, Ghana. I graduated in 2013 and began work as a Senior Program Assistant in the Central and West Africa program at the National Democratic Institute. I use French every day to communicate with our offices in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Cote d'Ivoire. I remember professor Ibrahima Wade fondly and owe him a debt of gratitude for opening my eyes to the African continent and thereby broadening my career horizons. Of course, I also miss the Colorado College campus and community dearly!

Report an issue - Last updated: 05/25/2021