As a major you will be expected to reach near fluency in your language skills and to gain an understanding of French literature and civilization. If you take part in the popular Hamilton in France, you will spend a year in Paris and pledge to speak no English with others in the program.

Jessica Sofen '16
Jess Sofen ’16

French? Vet school? A student says oui to both

As she contemplated college, Jess Sofen ’16 was unwilling to relinquish either of the passions she’d held since childhood – French and veterinary medicine. “Probably the primary reason why I chose Hamilton as a college was the open curriculum, because I knew I was going to be an interesting case for them as far as how I was going to work out my schedule of being a foreign language major but pursuing a field in medicine, because there are a lot of requirements on both sides of that,” says Sofen, a French major who takes many and varied science classes.

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With careful planning, Sofen has been able to get the coursework she needs and study abroad for a semester through Hamilton in France. She’s even found a way to connect her two interests: She discovered that Paris is home to a major epidemiology center, where animal-borne diseases are part of the scope of work. She’s attempting to set up a volunteer experience there and maybe even an internship.

“The longer I’m at Hamilton,” Sofen says, “I think the more it becomes apparent to me that it was the right choice.”

Elizabeth Collins '10 in the Alps.

A graduate’s progress: a passion and a Ph.D.

Elizabeth Collins ’10  follows her passion. She just started a doctoral program in French and Francophone studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. Her study abroad in Paris when she was at Hamilton College was a major influence on her career and academic path.

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Right after Hamilton, Collins taught English at a public high school on the island of Réunion—a French island in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Madagascar, where the French government hires young people to be language assistants in public schools. From there, she taught French for two years at a private schools in Ann Arbor, Mich. She’s also led trips to France and taught at summer language camps.

Collins studied French in part because it allowed her to pursue her many interests – history, literature, sociology, art history, government and more.

“Following your passion and considering your post-graduation future don’t have to be mutually exclusive,” she says. “The experiences I’ve had, the skills that I have acquired, and the connections I’ve made thanks to my study of French combined with Hamilton’s emphasis on communication and writing have opened many doors for me so far.”