Here you'll find profiles of all the people that have made Modern Languages a great place to learn, teach, and grow.
November Profile of the Month- Liam McConnell
My name is Liam McConnell. I am a senior at K-State, graduating in Spring 2022 with a degree in Operations and Supply Chain Management and minors in Biology and Chinese.
My interest in the Chinese language started through pure circumstance – my father had an opportunity to contract with Huawei and spend a few months working in Shenzhen. To celebrate Christmas, my family and I went to visit him for two weeks. Meeting the friendly locals, eating some of the best chicken ever, and walking around the painting-lined streets and alleys of the local art district are just a few of the many impressions China left on me. This started my curiosity toward learning the Chinese language.
When entering my freshman year at K-State, I figured I would sign up for a Chinese class. After all, if I didn’t like it I could drop out. Luckily, it didn’t come to that! Though I struggled to adapt at first, under the guidance of the Chinese Program’s amazing professors, my curiosity grew to become a hobby and a passion for the language. I am currently planning to further my language skill though a Spring semester abroad, and am excited to see when my career and my second language will take me.
If you have ever considered Chinese or a foreign language, absolutely give it a try and don’t give up! Not only is Chinese a very important and beautiful language, but learning a foreign language opens your eyes to new perspectives that are needed in a globalizing world.
Hello! My name is Taylor Billings, and I am an alumni of K-State. While at K-State I minored in Chinese language. I chose this language because I knew that there was potential for a lot of career opportunities if I could speak Chinese. During my time at K-State, I really enjoyed my professors because they were always more than willing to help and, out of that, flourished friendships. Having the ability to speak some Chinese also gave me the opportunity to build relationships with my Chinese residents in Jardine at the time. There was one family that I will never forget, because even though it was a very simple conversation, it was so exciting just to get to relate to them through the language! What was amazing about meeting this family in Jardine, though, was that they were from the same city that I was going to move to in China! After teaching English in China for about two years, I returned to Kansas and decided to get my masters in East Asian Languages and Cultures with a concentration in Chinese Language and Literature. I realized that continuing my learning would help me get to my career goal of working with Chinese immigrants. I would love to use my Chinese to work with international students on a college campus or with immigrants outside of the college realm. Being able to translate and help them get settled into the country would be such an exciting opportunity. For students who are going into their second or third year of studying a language, choose to put yourself in situations where you can learn, speak, and practice more. If I have one regret, it was not seeking out opportunities to speak as much Chinese as possible. Immersion is everything, especially with Chinese, so do your best to give yourself those opportunities.
The skills I learned in my German classes enhanced my ability to think quickly and creatively, to be flexible, and to problem solve. These qualities are essential to my profession because, as a microbiologist, I am often asked to investigate abnormal results. This process reminds me of a puzzle—like piecing together nonverbal communication and inventive descriptions to express myself when I don’t know a word in German. Though I didn’t expect it, I also use German for translation purposes at my job. I find myself surrounded by German products on a daily basis, as German scientific equipment is known for being of exceptionally high quality. When the English instructions for some equipment were lost or difficult to read, I was able to save time by translating the instructions from German.
My name is Cecilia (Cec) Potts-Moore, I majored in German with a minor in Gender, Women, and Sexuality Studies!
I chose German because I had fun learning it, and felt like it was a chance for me to open myself up to other cultures and travel to other countries. My favorite thing about learning a language at K-State was the sense of community that the Modern Languages department gave me, I felt like I really got to know my fellow students and professors, I wasn't just another face in the lecture hall. I spent a lot of my time in college surrounding myself with all things Modern Languages, from working in the main office to being president of the German Club, most of my day was about Modern Languages and I loved every second.
I graduated May 2021, and since then I have been working in Kansas City as the Executive Assistant to a CEO of a dentistry company. While I don't get to use German much at my job, my boss said that the reason she hired me was because of my ability to learn a new language. It showed her that I was willing to take on a new challenge and that I was worldly.
For students that are considering learning a language at K-State, I say go for it! There's tons of study abroad opportunities, the Modern Languages Student Association, and a bunch of other ways to get involved with a language at K-State. I don't really know where I would be if I hadn't learned German, and I'm glad I chose this path.
Regional Sales Vice President, Comfone AG, Kansas City
K-State majors: French and Accounting
Study abroad: Aix-en-Provence, France
My name is John Dubois. I graduated from Kansas State University with degrees in accounting and French. After completing two years of French at KSU, I was 20-years old when I went to Aix-en-Provence, France to study French and business. I studied for a semester, worked during the summer and traveled in the fall. I then returned to KSU and completed my studies. Studying the French language and culture changed my outlook and my life in many ways. I am very comfortable and adaptable to living and working in different cultures and this has created many opportunities and enriched my life. I have also learned how to communicate effectively across different cultures.
Hello! My name is Tess Fairbanks, and I am a sophomore studying Secondary Education and Spanish. At K-State, I enjoy participating in the University Honors Program and serving as Secretary for the Success Ambassadors with the Academic Achievement Center. In the future, I would like to be a high school Spanish teacher. I enjoy the community aspect of language learning at K-State. After two years, I now recognize multiple members of my classes and feel comfortable reaching out to them for help. Also, every professor demonstrates a genuine desire to help their students learn. Their passion for education is inspiring, and I appreciate the opportunity to learn from such knowledgeable experts. In my future career, I will certainly focus on building community with the classroom. My best advice for studying a language (or for college in general) is to never be afraid to ask for help or admit that you are struggling with something. Language learning requires hard work and determination and simply reaching out for guidance can assist greatly. At Kansas State, we are lucky to have amazing professionals teaching in the Modern Languages Department and seeking their help when necessary has been key to my language learning journey.
I am grateful to have been awarded the Megan Elizabeth Taylor Memorial Scholarship for Fall 2020. This scholarship has assisted me by lessening the financial burden of my college education. It has allowed me to be able to live in Manhattan, even during the pandemic, and create a space where I can focus on my academics.
I’m a sophomore from Topeka, Kansas, double-majoring in Spanish and Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics. I plan to enter dental school after graduating from K-State in 2024! I’m majoring in Spanish to become fluent, but by the time I graduate I’ll also have minors in Chemistry and Biology. I decided to learn Spanish because I’ve always loved speaking it in high school, but also because in Kansas, I’ve seen hundreds of Hispanic patients while dental shadowing who can’t communicate with their dentists. They’re forced to bring in translators at their own expense, and I hope to eliminate this communication barrier.After college, I plan to become a dentist and offer a professional, bilingual healthcare experience. The most important piece of advice I would give to anyone entering college is to study a new language, even if only for a while! It’s been such an incredibly rewarding experience, and it’s an excellent break from all my science classes.
I earned the Taylor (Megan E) Modern Language Scholarship. It’s allowed me to limit my part-time work and dedicate some of my free time to my extracurriculars. For example, I serve as the K-State Student Governing Association’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness director, working to improve bystander intervention in our local bars and advocating for a more inclusive and trauma-informed Title IX process for our university.
Kwasi Ndjokunla Ketchore
My name is Kwasi Ndjokunla Ketchore. I finished my Master's degree at K-State in the Department of Modern Languages in spring 2020. I am from Ghana, West Africa.
Why French? First of all, I like the French language. I developed love for this language from childhood. I decided to go to college to become a French teacher in order to share my knowledge with others and meet with people from different cultural background.
Secondly, I love teaching. I enjoy interacting with students. Before joining Kansas State University to pursue my master’s program, I was teaching French in high school in Ghana. My stay at K-State went very well, thanks to the very dynamic faculty who are very welcoming. I found myself in a family away from home. I cannot forget the contribution that all the professors made during my academic years. Thanks to their teaching and encouragement, I am now at Penn State studying a dual PhD program in French and Francophone literature and African Studies.
I am focusing my research on, among other areas, African Francophone literatures, oral literature of Sub-Sahara Africa, the image of griots in contemporary world. Living in the US, I have developed personal interests in the African American diaspora and would like to explore how culture migrates within time and space.
I am encouraging everyone to learn a second language in order to live up to globalization. If you ask me, I would recommend you study French. I am proud to be a product of K-State Modern Languages department.
I am a senior at Kansas State from Wichita (Northwest High School). I have been studying Spanish for 8 years now. I am hoping to continue studying the language while also pursuing a graduate degree in Political Science. I felt that Spanish would be the most useful in the United States, and given my interest in Latin America, I felt that learning the language would give me a better understanding of the culture and society of the region as a whole.The modern language department (both professors and students) are all incredibly friendly and want you to succeed. There is an environment that promotes positivity while also challenging oneself that I have loved to be a part of. Specifically, my courses relating to translation have been extremely useful for my understanding of the language but also are relevant in a variety of job markets.
I earned the Thomas E. Stamey Memorial Scholarship and the Johnston/Hollis Modern Language Scholarship. Both greatly helped me as a student to be able to focus on my academics given the unpredictability that we have seen in 2020.
Project Architect, BNIM, Kansas City
I chose to take several Spanish courses because I believe that the ability to communicate in a second language- especially Spanish- will become more and more important in the near future. Communication is such an integral part of what we do professionally. The ability to understand others and be understood is critical. The ability to communicate in another language opens up more opportunities. Increasingly, job postings that I see in Architecture give preference to people who can speak a second or multiple languages. Especially if their work is in larger, more diverse cities or they work in international markets.
I am glad for the time I spent studying Spanish while at K-State. It was one of the few non-architecture course loads that stayed constant in my curriculum. I appreciated then & now the exposure it gave me to different perspectives and possibilities. Even now- I have been able to research work from Spanish and Latino architects/firms direct from their words and websites; and I can connect with people who speak Spanish in and around the office and at the construction site.
My name is Matthew Swords, and I am currently a junior studying Accounting and French here at K-State! Outside of the classroom, I serve as Vice President of Union Governing Board, Treasurer of Rotaract Club, Judge for Judicial Branch of SGA, and Ambassador for the College of Business. I am also employed as a French Tutor and Teaching Assistant for the Mathematics Department. I love reading, drinking coffee, and learning new things, and I am so lucky to be here at K-State where I can do all these things! I chose to start learning French as a freshman in high school, and I have never looked back. I decided to continue French into college because I not only saw the value in having an extra language in my toolkit, but also because I genuinely learning new things about the language and culture. French classes are my favorite part about college, and I am so glad that I decided to continue with it and seek a major.
I was awarded funds from the Popkins Scholarship in Modern Languages, the James L. Hollis Memorial Scholarship, and the Wilma Johnston and Jean Hollis Modern Language Scholarship. This scholarship has benefitted me in numerous ways. For instance, it has allowed me to really focus on keeping my grades up without having to worry as much outside of the classroom about how I am going to pay for things. I believe that by taking away some of my financial worries, I am a better French student because I can really dive deep into the material.
Use of Spanish is not required in my current job, but that doesn't mean I don't use it. When I work with people who have a background in Spanish, it can pique their interest if I start speaking to them in Spanish, allowing for a more productive therapy experience.
I also use the knowledge I learned with my Spanish minor at KSU in my personal life with travels. I have used it to navigate through areas in Puerto Rico and Peru, opening the door for richer traveling experience.
Hello! My name is Alexander Vonderschmidt. I am currently a researcher in epidemiology at Cornell University, where I received my masters. I started my degree in dietetics at K-State with the intent of becoming a registered dietitian, wanting to transform our food systems to be more in line with human health. However, I noticed that a lot of nutritional research was happening on the international stage and additionally, the World Health Organization had headquarters in Lyon, France and in Geneva, Switzerland. So, I thought having a French degree could potentially open doors in the future in regard to research and this felt like an appropriate continuation of my prior, pre-university French studies.
Aside from simply becoming more familiar with French language and culture, what I didn’t realize was how well my French classes would prepare me for epidemiological research at the graduate level, a seemingly unrelated field entirely. However, the skills that I gained from my French degree: analysis and appraisal of research, critical thinking and problem solving, academic collaboration, how to generate accurate, well-tuned hypotheses; these are all features that I have used daily in my epidemiological studies and will carry with me throughout my academic career.
Due to my minor in Japanese, I was able to achieve my lifetime dream of working in Japan through the JET Programme. In addition to improved language skills, I have gained a unique perspective of culture and society which has changed my outlook on life. I am much more confident now. Facing the challenges of life abroad and communicating exclusively in a foreign language taught me not to be afraid of failure, and that anything can be accomplished with enough perseverance. Because of the sheer number of unexpected challenges in my day to day life, I feel I have become more adaptable and now I am more capable of seizing opportunities as they arise.
I wanted to learn German originally because my family used to speak it, but more importantly, it's fun. I love making German sentences, getting all the genders and cases just right, putting everything where it needs to go... German is a puzzle, but a truly melodic and satisfying one when you get it right. K-State has been a great time! The culture of helpfulness makes language learning approachable and fun, as well as effective. German is also a very useful language to learn, being spoken in so many situations and places in Europe and worldwide. When you combine that with its wealth of art and literature, German is an indispensable language for both international business and cozy fairy tales. After K-State, I’m going to graduate school at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies for an MA in French Translation and Interpretation. I hope to be a translator one day, especially of fantasy & sci-fi novels. I would also love to interpret at international political events.