Graduate Success Stories

Ever wondered what it would be like to live in another country? Is it your dream to land a career in international politics, finance, science, or education? Or maybe you’re looking for a way to challenge yourself while opening new worlds of possibility for your academic and professional careers?

Graduates from our program have come from all walks of life, but they all leave the UAF French Program with marketable skills and, for many, international experience.

See what the UAF French Program is all about, told firsthand by our fabulous grads themselves:


Thomas Newman

“[Dr. Matusevich] was completely right when she told me, ‘Learning French will do you wonders…'”

Abigail Marie Steffen

“My time in this program secured my desire to work internationally and learn foreign languages to aid me in achieving that goal…”

Jalil Jacallen

“My time in France kicked off a journey that has led me to live in 5 other countries and master their languages…”

Benjamin Reed

“Dr. Matusevich was instrumental in helping me to achieve my goals, worked around my schedule and mentored me closely for the last 3 years…”

Hannah Gerrish

“The UAF French program gave me community, many opportunities to learn, and a chance to follow a passion…”

Katelyn Bushnell

“The chance to be part of the French Program was one of the primary reasons I chose to attend UAF…”

Chanelle Fournier

“From my experience, I would say the UAF French department offers a broad range of rigorous and engaging opportunities for study…”

Lakeidra Chavis

“While at UAF Lakeidra took an active part in the French Club and in the French program’s theater…”

Viviana Caceres

“Looking back at my time as a French student at UAF I can say that my overall experience was excellent…”

Shania Perkins

“Over the past few years, I have gained the confidence in my language abilities to do so many things that I never imagined being able to do…”

Hannah Carlile

“I started learning French just for fun, but the courses and instructors were so amazing that I couldn’t stop…”

Tabitha Rogers

“The French department is a gem at UAF, with students that thrive under the excellency of well-educated professors…”

Solomon Shildler

“It was my privilege and honor to be a part of the French program for the three years that I was in it…”

Marcel Soubkovsky

“The French program at UAF introduced me to the French culture…”

Allison Sanders

“Allison Sanders has lived in Paris for the past 8 years…”

Nathaniel O’Connor

“I wanted to thank Dr. Matusevich for pushing me in my French classes and encouraging me to look into exchange programs…”

Laura Walters

“Laura actively participated in French theater performances at UAF and received a PhD in Art History, from St. Andrews University, UK…”

Maureen Heflinger

“As String Coordinator for the Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival, director of Chamber Music and Sectional Coach at Josiah Quincy Orchestra Program…”

Theresa Budnik Combs

“I remember my French classes with Dr. Matusevich fondly and I appreciated the diversity of topics offered in them…”

Samai Munoz

“Choosing to finish my degree in Foreign Languages and Literature at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks was one of the best decisions I have ever made…”

Ian Hendren

“The French Program provided me with more than just a solid education…”

Daniela Wilner

“I originally came to UAF in 2009, planning on majoring in either Biology or Art…”


Debbie Tilsworth

“The UAF French program has added a wonderful dimension to…”


Makenzie Demmert

“The French program at UAF afforded me one of the best and richest opportunities…”


Adrian Raymond

“I have been living in France for the past 4 years studying and working…”


Ashley Paris

“The Language department at UAF helped my dream of living abroad come true…”


Bella Yiwen Fan

“…I got my answer when I first set my foot in Paris.”


Bethany Essary (Sweet)

“Having learned a foreign language myself, I can relate to my [bilingual] students as language learners…”

Brian Sweeney

Brian Sweeney

“A person opens their own door: language just gives you more doors to choose from!”


Elizabeth Galles

“I fell in love with the beauty and fluidity of the language…”


Harlee Stuart

“I knew about exchange programs before college, but I never seriously considered one until I entered UAF…”

Heather Maas

Heather Maas

“…my degree from UAF has provided me with a satisfying livelihood and enriched my life beyond my expectations.”

Heather Olson

Heather Olson

“I felt more camaraderie with my French classmates than with almost any other class.”


Jayme Currie Norum

“…taking French really helped shape my college career.”


Joyce Beelman

“When I took French cinema class I could not imagine where it would lead me.”


Justin Parish

“I landed, upon my graduation, a job teaching French and English in Beijing, China.”


Keri Iles

“[Studying French at UAF] was a jumping off point for my further travels, adventures and language studies…”

Mandara Nott

Mandara Nott

“For a bush kid from Alaska, heading to France was definitely an adventure…”


Margaret Ransdell-Green

“…what I liked the most was the language and the process of becoming fluent, which I found to be easy at UAF.”


Mark Winterstein

“…This proficiency was the result of the emphasis placed on pronunciation and
grammatical detail while studying French at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.”


Michelle Risse

“Because of the global adventurous knowledge that French professor Dr. Matusevich promoted in all of her classes,
I was able to muster up enough courage to go abroad…’


Sara Ruth Harriger

“I’ve met desert nomads, kings and queens, prime ministers and rural rice farmers.”


Shaun Nesheim

“…the time spent living in a foreign country taught me to bear the burdens of a different public system…
which, in turn, prepared me for my current service in the Peace Corps.”


Sheila Swanberg

“My study abroad in Québec actually influenced my decision to look for a job abroad…”


Tricia Bates

“…I have already had three jobs that specifically involved the French language…”


Tyson Hansen

“…big changes can happen from seemingly small choices.”


Sean Clark

“My language skills will definitely come in handy during my travels.”


Lisa Perrault

“…my love for French has only become greater throughout my years of being in the French program.”


Claire Ashmead

“I learned about French culture in a way that is impossible in a classroom…”


JR Ancheta

“Seeing others progress semester after semester by attending the club
in addition to their classroom instruction has been phenomenal.”

John Quinones and Daniela Wilner

John Quinones

“Thank to the French program I discovered a prestigious Political Science Institute in Rennes, France…”