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

2014-2015 Walther Scholars

Sarah Anderson
Stephanie Brynes
Joshua Griffiths
Karina High
Maxence Leconte
Rozen Neupané
Megan Oprea
Clémence Ozel
Christopher Reimels

Sarah Anderson
I grew up in Auburn, Alabama, a small, university town, where I also stayed for college. As an undergraduate, majoring in French was a natural choice; and I was fortunate to both study abroad in Paris and write an undergraduate thesis, experiences which made me sure I wanted to pursue graduate studies in French. (I was so impressed by the churches and architecture in France that I wrote on the topic of the Gothic cathedral in France as symbol.) After graduating with my B.A., I spent six months as a teaching assistant in a French high school in the Champagne region, immersed in the language and culture and living with a French family. I then spent several years working at the university library back home, which, while not directly related to French, was an enjoyable introduction to (a piece of) the academic world which I hope to join.  

When I decided to apply for graduate programs, University of Texas was a top choice for me for many reasons - and to be honest, one of them was the incredible support that I would be offered if I were to receive the Walther fellowship. I'm appreciative that the fellowship provides for a year of preparation and acclimation before I begin teaching, as well as one to devote fully to dissertation work later on. Most of all, I am very grateful that this fellowship will allow me the liberty to dedicate myself to researching, teaching, presenting at conferences, and learning about the academic profession these coming years. It is a wonderful gift to be provided the financial support to further my education and to make possible an eventual academic career. I am thrilled to receive the Walther fellowship and eager to begin the French Studies graduate program at UT!

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Stephanie Brynes
I am overwhelmingly grateful for the opportunities the Walther Fellowship has provided me at the University of Texas at Austin. When I earned my Bachelor of Arts degrees in English and French from the State University of New York at New Paltz in 2013, I wasn’t convinced I would have the funding necessary to complete my life goal of continuing my education in French Literature and earning a PhD. I decided to spend a year working as an English Language Teaching Assistant in Draguignan, France, to gain work experience and determine if higher education was in my future. As a Walther Fellowship recipient, I am delighted to say I can not only continue my studies in French, but also explore the multiple interdisciplinary options encouraged by the Fellowship, such as Italian studies and linguistics. The Walther Fellowship provides me the support I need to focus on my studies while I develop as an academic and as a person, and for that I am incredibly thankful.

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Joshua Griffiths
I am incredibly thankful to be a recipient for the Walther Scholarship.  Most of my training from Gettysburg College in linguistics until this point has been in English and Spanish linguistics, so with the Walther scholarship, it’ll be much easier for me to apply what I already know to French linguistics before starting my teaching here at UT.  This will allow me to much more easily develop the scholar aspect of being a teacher-scholar.  Without the Walther Scholarship, my graduate work at UT would only be a dream far from reality.

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Karina High
The Walther Fellowship has given me the truly unique opportunity of further pursuing studies in my specific areas of interest and at my academic institution of choice.

 I was born in Vienna, Austria, to American-Canadian parents who fostered my inclination toward languages. My interest in French linguistics was sparked in high school when I attended stimulating French classes taught by highly competent native-speaker teaching assistants. Later, I enrolled in the Romance Studies program at the University of Vienna with a major in French and a minor in Italian. I finished with an M. Phil. in 2013. The same year, I received a BA at the University of Vienna, Austria, with a major in Ancient History and minors in Papyrology, Epigraphy, and Numismatics. As distantly related as the two fields seem, they have become deeply intertwined and developed in me a keen interest in historical linguistics, language variation and contact, morphology, and sociolinguistics. These are components the doctoral program at UT will allow me to build upon and enhance.

I am very thankful to be among the recipients of the Walther Fellowship since it will enable me to dedicate yet more attention to my studies and my research.

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Maxence Leconte
The French language and culture have been a daily part of my existence since the day I was born, and after my first experience abroad, I understood that there was nothing comparable to sharing someone else’s own language and culture.For the past three years, I’ve studied and taught French both in Europe and the United States. Discussing, thinking about my culture through the eyes of people coming from different places and backgrounds has offered me a new perspective and a broader understanding of what it means to be a scholar, and gave me the will to work for the future of the French heritage. 

Starting a Ph.D in French Studies is a tremendous chance, and also a great responsibility. Graduates students always need to go the extra mile, in order to get better. But this can be time consuming on the long run, and as a first year graduate student – receiving a scholarship is one of the most helpful way to sign the beginning of an academic career.  I am very grateful to be a Walther scholar. Such an award will give me the opportunity to strictly focus on my studies and research, allowing the French language and culture to relentlessly grow and move forward. Thank you Mrs. Wather for contributing to my education at UT, for supporting knowledge and therefore power. Hook’em!

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Rozen Neupané
I spent most of my life in Kathmandu, Nepal before coming to the US for college education. I completed my undergraduate studies in Mathematics and French in a small liberal arts institution in the East coast. While I have always been passionate by francophone cultures, it was during my undergraduate years that I realized my strong inclination towards pursuing a career in French linguistics. While at the University of Texas at Austin, I have been awarded the prestigious Walther Fellowship. I am incredibly grateful to have received this opportunity. On one hand, this allows me to spend more time getting acclimated to graduate school while on the other it provides me with a great financial support. During my time as a Walther scholar, I intend on exploring my interests and enhancing my knowledge in French linguistics and in other facets of the French speaking world.

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Megan Oprea
Born and raised in the Detroit area, I wanted to live in France since I was young. I did not learn French until I was a college student, and my interest in the language, particularly in its structure and use, developed from there. Advanced French grammar was my favorite course. After college I took time off, moving around the country studying dance and playing in a band. After four years, I longed for more intellectually stimulating work. I applied and was accepted to the PhD program in French linguistics at the University of Texas at Austin in 2009.

After completing my Masters in 2011, I spent a year on a lecturer exchange at the Université de Montpellier-Paul Valéry in the south of France. It was during this time that I began to have an interest in language choice for Arabic-French bilinguals from North Africa. This developed into a more nuanced interest in language attitudes and their correlation with religion and national identity, what has become my dissertation topic. Having successfully completed my PhD course work, my comprehensive exams, my application to candidacy and my prospectus defense, I have begun the writing phase. I am so very grateful to have received the Walther scholarship for this last year of my graduate career. It will allow me to focus solely on my dissertation and to complete it by my intended graduation date, May 2015. 

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Clémence Ozel
I was born and grew up in the Champagne-Ardenne region in Northeastern France, and I moved to the nearby town of Dijon in Burgundy to complete my degree in English. At the time, my goal was to become an English teacher in France so I spent my first year abroad at the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, MA. Instead of going back to my home country, I spent two more years at Pomona College in Claremont, CA, where I acquired more experience in teaching French as a foreign language. When I first came to the University of Texas, I wanted to specialize in French and Francophone literature, but after seizing the opportunity to take classes outside the French Department, I realized that I could use my passion for film and develop it in my own research.

For the past three years, I have been taking classes in multiple departments, and I have taught two different levels of French classes. This year, thanks to the Walther Fellowship, I will be able to focus exclusively on my research, prepare my Comprehensive Exams, and write my prospectus. The freedom that the Walther Fellowship will give me is invaluable, and I am looking forward to completing more steps toward my PhD.  I am extremely grateful for this fellowship, and I would like to thank the donors for the generous support they offered.   

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Christopher Reimels
I was quite fortunate to discover very early that I had a passion for languages.  I have studied French and Spanish since I was in high school.  I have spent most of my life in Texas, and in 2010 I received a B. A. in history from Midwestern State University in Wichita Falls, Texas.  My degree also included extensive work in French and Spanish.  In the summer of 2010, I attended the summer French Language School at Middlebury College in Vermont.  Most of my professors were from France, and I came to understand that the acquisition of a new language means the discovery of new peoples and new cultures.  Such knowledge can promote more understanding between people.  With these fundamental concepts in mind, I realized that I wanted to make French language, literature, and culture my life’s work.  In 2012, I received an M.A. in Romance Languages from Stony Brook University in New York.  My master’s program instilled in me a desire to continue my education by pursuing the Ph.D. in French Studies.

This is the point at which the Walther Scholarship enters my story.  It will allow me to focus completely on my studies, which will help me immensely as I continue to develop my career.  The exceptional generosity of this award will enable me to continue my life’s work and to achieve my goal of becoming a French professor.  

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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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