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'm a recipient of the Ada Belle Winthrop-King award. I have presented at many conferences, two of which were in Haiti and the Ivory Coast. I also started an Irish band, and we had a very good run of regular shows. I've made great friends as well as professional connections. My proudest achievement is leading many students to appreciate the French language and advance in their proficiency.
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.