Jami WatsonName: Jami Watson
Graduation year: May 20​17
Major: French
Minor: Political Science
Why did you choose to study this area?
Long story short—I was undecided my first semester going into CMU. I struggled to figure out what I wanted to study. I took the tests, I had many advising appointments, and none of it felt right. It finally hit me when I started registering for my courses for the next semester that the one thing that was sticking with consistently and that I really enjoyed were my French studies. I signed my French major by the end of my first semester at CMU.

How did the language program in WLC prepare you for your future?  
The Department of World Languages and Cultures has given me so many tools in preparing for my future. The professors not only help with in-class learning but also spend enormous amounts of time mentoring and guiding students to success outside of class. The French professors have guided me through my coursework to help me develop my language skills. They’ve also taught me how to use my skills in an effective way by advising my Honors capstone research project within a humanities context. Finally, they’ve encouraged me and have built confidence in me to help prepare graduate school applications after CMU. They’ve given me the aide and resources to create my route through my academic career.

What was your favorite thing about learning a language? What is your favorite thing about studying another culture in depth?
My favorite thing about learning a language is probably the abilities gained to speak with others within that language. There have been multiple circumstances when I met people who spoke French and was able to immediately connect with them. Language has a way of eliminating the superficiality of cultural encounters proceed to make connections with people that you may have never been able to communicate with on a monolingual basis. 

One of my favorite things about studying another culture in depth, in particular francophone culture, would be the variability of the people and the countries that speak French as an official or co-official language. French culture isn’t all about France, but it’s a link that has formed many connections with other parts of the world over time. In studying this culture, it’s cool to be able to meet people from many different countries and speak with them in French while talking about completely opposite aspects of culture. 

What advice do you have for fellow students in WLC classes?
My advice for my fellow students studying a world language is to explore the subject outside of class. Spend time attending films, go to plays, find art exhibits, and read books. Whatever it may be, find what motivates you within the language. Once you find what drives you crazy with passion is when you will discover your motivation for studying the language and how you can use it. Along with finding your passion within the language, spend time on the language outside of class—not including homework. I know, it’s difficult to find time but even 10 minutes of reading before going to bed or listening to a podcast in the car helps to keep you continuously learning and thinking in the language.

What’s next for you?
After CMU, I plan to pursue a master’s degree in Intercultural Communication either in the U.S. or in France. I want to use Foreign Language and Political Science together in harmony to work in diplomacy and create communication between France, Japan, and the U.S.

What else should we know about you?
I’m a first-generation student. This is something that I was aware of upon my arrival to CMU but never thought it carried great meaning. Most of my family members only have a high school diploma so I went through my first few years of college taking whatever advice I could get because I had no other access to the needed information. It was very difficult navigating the university and finding a consistent support base but I managed to stay motivated and kept moving forward. With the help of the relationships I created with my professors and mentors on campus, I stayed engaged. Many of these relationships formed within WLC at CMU—I’m not sure I would’ve ended up in the same place without the immense support that I received from my professors, staff, and colleagues.