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David Birdsong, Chair 201 W 21ST STREET STOP B7600, HRH 2.114A, AUSTIN, TX 78712 • 512-471-5531

2013-2014 Walther Scholars

Amanda Dalola
Audrey Doussot
Yasmina Fawaz
Viola Green
Nicholas Holterman
Pia Lara Carrillo
Adrien Lavergne
Elizabeth Mayne
Caitlin O'Neil
Rebekah Post
Stephanie Russo
Ryan Swankie
Ashley Voeks

Amanda Dalola
I grew up in a cowful small town outside of Ithaca, NY and completed my BA in Linguistics and English nearby at Cornell University. I never started learning French until I got to college, but I originally issued it to myself as a challenge to see if I could learn a foreign language more efficiently through linguist glasses.  One semester led to another, which led to studying abroad during my junior year at Paris VII and La Sorbonne. A bunch of great cultural experiences and a boatload of francophone friends later, I was hooked. 

After my BA, I decided to combine two of my passions (Linguistics and French) and do a Masters at Penn State.  There I met my future advisors and was given the chance to flourish in several unique teaching and research opportunities.  After the MA, I spent two delicious years on exchange teaching English in Strasbourg, France. A year and half later, I transferred to UT to continue working with my MA advisor. 

The Walther Fellowship has been a wonderful opportunity for me because it has allowed me to pursue my dissertation research on phrase-final vowel devoicing in both the US and France.  Last summer, I was able to collect native speaker data in Lyon, Strasbourg and Paris, France, and the following spring, I continued my data collection with second language speakers in Austin, TX and Portland, OR.  The freedom the Walther fellowship has given me has allowed me to focus on my research round the clock and complete the PhD program in a timely fashion.  I have no doubts that both the quantity and quality of my research has benefited from this generous award.

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Audrey Doussot
Born and raised in France, I have, from an early stage in my education, been interested in the nineteenth-century period, in pictures, and, of course, in literature. I have spent some time studying English and then teaching it as a second language in France before coming to the United States. I greatly enjoy teaching foreign languages, whether French or English, through the use of both verbal and visual materials. My interest in visual media studies and in text/image relationships has therefore expanded over the years and I am really glad that I have found a place where I can combine and go even further in the study of my three main interests : the nineteenth century (in France and in Great Britain – maybe one day in the whole of Europe!), the use of pictures in media and art, and the teaching of a foreign language.

Receiving the Walther has been a very pleasant surprise, making it possible to spend my first at UT focusing on research and on taking courses to expand my knowledge in fields like French literature or film studies. This generous financial support  means a lot since it is evidence that some people and some institutions still believe that the humanities, and more specifically the study of language and literature, are still worthy of interest. Thank you, Mrs Walther. 

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Yasmina Fawaz
I was born in Ivory Coast where I spent most of my childhood and moved to several countries before I found my way to the U.S. for my college education. I earned a BA in English Literature and in French from Andrews University in Michigan as well as a Master of Arts in French Literature from the University of Georgia. My decision to come to UT for my PhD was a difficult one but was motivated by the generous and comprehensive offer the department of French and Italian proposed. More than an excellent education and the opportunity to work with inspiring scholars as well as many professionalization opportunities, our department encourages its students to work with faculty across campus, promoting inter-disciplinary research.

The Walther Scholarship is an invaluable tool that allows for the academic development of its students without the worry of finances. Moreover, while my experience as a TA and AI at UT has been enriching, I am most grateful for the Walther scholarship at a critical time in my program. I’m currently in my third year in French Studies and am preparing for my Comprehensive Exams. The Walther funds are allowing me to devote my time to preparing for this important step, as well as take a course in geography that will deepen my understanding of some of the issues that I intend to pursue in my dissertation, namely the question of identity construction in West African Literature and its dynamic relationship to space, place and culture.

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Viola Green
As a second year Ph.D. student in French Linguistics, I have research interests in the areas of Second Language Acquisition, Bilingualism, Multilingualism, and Cognitive and Psycholinguistic Approaches in SLA. The Walther Scholarship provides me with the unique opportunity to further explore my linguistic interests. I am using this opportunity to assess my broad scope of interests and select a specialty area to pursue in preparation for my Ph.D. thesis and dissertation.

After receiving a B.A. in Modern Foreign Languages with an emphasis in French from Minsk State Linguistic University, I taught languages in public and private school settings and at the university level in Europe and the USA. I have also been a translator and completed linguistic QA projects for commercial enterprises.

While these were excellent opportunities to share my passion for languages and language acquisition, I wanted to deepen my expertise and continue to experience intellectual and academic challenges. This lead me to complete a Masters Degree in Language Pedagogy at the University of Utah, and then to pursue a Ph.D. in French Linguistics at the University of Texas in Austin. UT has been a great environment for me to teach, to study and to grow as a scholar. I am very grateful to have been selected for the Walther Scholarship.

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Nicholas Holterman
I am thrilled to be a recipient of the Walther scholarship. Indeed, this generous award has allowed me to acclimate to graduate studies here at UT Austin without worrying about teaching in my first year; coming from upstate New York, a bit of acclimation was certainly expected. Since I am a Walther scholar, I have been able to take a course outside of the department in order to further indulge my passion for medieval studies. Outside of academics, the fellowship has allowed me to explore the various cultural elements that Austin has to offer. I am grateful to have been a recipient of this scholarship and for the opportunities that it has afforded me.

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Pia Lara Carrillo
I was born in Mexico City and raised in Xalapa, Veracruz, where my passion for French began. During my high school years, I moved to Dallas, Texas, where I stayed to pursue a BBA in Management and a BA in French at Southern Methodist University. One year after graduation, I realized I belonged in the academic world, and was thrilled to decide that I would be pursuing the MA/PhD in French Studies at the University of Texas at Austin as a Walther Scholar. I am interested in Francophone Literature, postcolonialism, and 20th and 21st century French Literature. I am very grateful for being a fellow this year because I am able to take four courses in literature and theory, which will be important for the research that I will be conducting later on, and also because I have been able to make a smooth transition into graduate school without teaching concerns. I am very grateful for the many doors this fellowship has opened for me.

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Adrien Lavergne
I have been interested in French since I was very young. I was fascinated by the fact that my grandmother and many of my relatives could speak French. I was eager to start learning the language as soon as I could. I never thought I would end up studying French Linguistics at the graduate level and, quite frankly, I wouldn't be without this scholarship. By funding my education, this scholarship allows me to achieve what would otherwise be impossible. 

Graduate coursework is very time consuming. Austin can be a relatively expensive city. As a result, it really is not possible to work enough to support yourself while studying enough to advance in your course work. This scholarship eliminated the need to work and allows me to concentrate on my studies. I am very grateful to be a recipient of this scholarship and a student at the University of Texas!

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Elizabeth Mayne
The program in French Linguistics brought me back to Texas, the state where I grew up, after eight years away. I studied French at Bowdoin College in Maine, and then spent four years teaching foreign language – teaching English in Brittany and French in Virginia. From personal experience of learning French at a young age in France, I am now interested in studying issues in bilingualism, relating to both language acquisition and language contact. The Walther has allowed me to concentrate on my studies and to contribute to the department by directing the annual French theatre production.

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Caitlin O'Neil
I graduated from Willamette University in 2010 with a B.A. in French. During that time, I had studied for a semester in Angers, France. This left me itching to return, so after graduation, I earned a position as assistante de langue vivante in a high school in the Jura. This is the year that I decided that I wanted French to be my career, although I was still unsure about the details.

Upon returning to the U.S. I took a position in a French-immersion elementary school classroom. Watching the students grapple with the acquisition process interested me in linguistics, and I started looking for programs to learn more about what I feel is an important subject. I was so happy to find a program that would allow me to continue to specialize in French, and I was thrilled when I was told that I would be funded through the Walther Fellowship. I am enjoying learning more about the subjects that interest me, and it is truly a gift to be able to do that without worrying about financial matters. Thank you!

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Rebekah Post
After finishing a BA in French, I wanted more experience in a Francophone country in order to immerse myself in the language I had studied for so long. With limited funds, an adviser pointed me to a paid internship in Tunis, Tunisia where I could use French with co-workers and clients. During a nine month stay, I was exposed to Arabic and found fascinating the local habit of mixing the two languages. On arrival to UT the following year, I realized that the mixing, or code-switching, to which I had become accustomed is an important area in Linguistics and one I could focus on for current study. In developing my Master's thesis, I recognized the utility of speaking both languages in order to truly understand the phenomenon. For this reason I have been working on Arabic for the last two years in addition to coursework and comprehensive exams. The inter-disciplinary nature of the French Linguistics program at UT Austin has allowed me to take courses in other departments to complement required coursework and prepare to contribute to the field.

After five invaluable years of teaching experience, I am excited to be completing field work in Morocco this year, funded in part by the generous Walther scholarship. I am incredibly grateful to be able to spend an extended period of time in the field in a French-speaking country where I can use both languages daily and study the local use. When I return to Austin I will be able focus on analyzing the data collected without worrying about finances. This award allows me the freedom to focus on an important topic that would otherwise be impossible due to its time-consuming nature and the associated costs while finishing my degree in a timely fashion. I am thankful for this scholarship and the opportunities it provides to those in our department.

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Stephanie Russo
Language evolution is a complex phenomenon that remains a central issue in linguistic research. How and why do languages change? Can linguists account for such a mysterious process in a comprehensive manner? In order to provide some answers to these questions, my research focuses on the restructuring of verbal paradigms in French and Romanian in relation to both human cognition and social processes.

The Walther Scholarship has come at a crucial time in my studies since I am preparing for comprehensive exams as well as my dissertation research on language evolution. Since receiving such a generous gift, I have the time and resources to fully engage with the literature in my field and prepare a well-developed outline for my future dissertation work. Thus, the Walther funds have been essential to my success as a doctoral student and to obtaining a PhD in a timely manner.

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Ryan Swankie
I am very grateful to receive Walther fellowship support. I feel this experience is helping me understand the life of a university professor. I have come to learn that being a professor is not just about teaching. Research, publishing, grant writing, conference attendance, and university committee involvement are all equally important aspects relative to advancement and tenure tracking. As a doctoral student, my two years so far have trained me well for my future career. My first year I taught introductory French and received course evaluations of the highest standard. Now I am in my second year. The financial assistance of the Walther fellowship allows me to focus on all the other important aspects of professorship listed above. Therefore I am receiving a great balance of experience and training that is essential for my future success as a university professor of French literature. I want to thank the Walther fellowship donors for the generous scholarship. I love UT! Hook 'em horns!

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Ashley Voeks
I am very happy and appreciative to be a recipient of the 2013-2014 Walther Scholarship. As a first-year Ph.D. student in French Studies at the University of Texas at Austin, this award will allow me to focus on my studies and further develop my own areas of interest, before beginning my work as a Teaching Assistant. In addition, the Walther Scholarship provides recipients with the opportunity to take more than one course outside of the Department of French and Italian, which is helpful in that it allows a student to make valuable connections between multiple disciplines, and to gain new perspectives on topics related to our field of study. I look forward to continuing my work at this university, and I am thankful for the outstanding support provided by the Walther Scholarship.

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WaltherPortrait

Portrait of Julia E. F. Walther in Austin, TX, c.1927

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Julia E. F. Walther at the University of Texas at Austin, 1944

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