To be honest, FSU and Penn State were my two choices. FSU offered better opportunities, and I felt closer to some of the professors' research.
Motivation to pursue a graduate degree
My main motivation comes from my first encounters with postcolonial francophone studies during my first M.A. in the United States. I realized I had a lot to learn about my own language, and this realization progressively drove me toward exploring different francophone authors. This experience in turn convinced me to start a PhD program in French and Francophone studies.
Importance of research and work
I believe that understanding other cultures and frameworks where one language exists is crucial to understanding the complexity of this language. In the case of French, I have heard too many times people focusing on Paris due to its gravitational cultural effect. While I do not despise this fact and do believe it also is important, I think that the same importance should be given to other cultures and places where French is spoken. One of these places is the region around the Congo River, which is the center of my research.
Accomplishments during graduate school
I enjoyed receiving financial support from the Winthrop-King Institute, allowing me to nourish my doctoral studies with grants to travel to international conferences and refine my research, including the MANSA conference in Abidjan (Ivory Coast), the Haitian Studies Association in Port-Au-Prince (Haïti), and several research trips to Paris to connect with the Congolese diaspora in Europe.
Furthermore, the Institute provided me with yearly scholarships that allowed the purchase of books and other research-related material. The Institute also organized many events where I could meet, interact, and sometimes even work with writers and other important members of my field.
Advice for prospective graduate students
Do not waste time. Jump on every single opportunity from day one. Time flies!
I would like to continue teaching languages (and music, if possible), anywhere in the world.