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Distinguished Alumni

College of Liberal Arts graduates exhibit many fascinating paths to success. Each year we celebrate the accomplishments of our alumni at an Outstanding Alumni Awards Ceremony.

 

Laura Skidmore (2016 Recipient)

B.A., Modern Languages; M.A. Spanish (Hispanic Linguistics)

Laura Skidmore received a B.A. in Modern Languages from Wright State University in 2001 and an M.A. in Spanish (Hispanic Linguistics) from the Ohio State University in 2010. She was a Rotary International Ambassador to Spain in 1998-1999.

She has used her language skills in a variety of positions, including as an entrepreneur, a private Spanish coach for professionals, a teacher in public and private schools, a university instructor, and a translator.

Laura often works with entrepreneurial and non-profit ventures. She previously served as Executive Director at the Dayton International School and as President of the school’s board of directors. She is currently working with the non-profit group Mothers Out Front to launch their efforts in Ohio. Mothers Out Front mobilizes mothers, grandmothers and their allies to ensure a livable planet for all children.

Laura lives near Yellow Springs, Ohio with her family.

Read Laura's tips for Modern Language students (PDF).

Vanessa Walton (2015 Recipient)

BA, French; BA, International Studies

Vanessa Walton graduated from Wright State University in 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts in French and one in International Studies as well.  During her time at Wright State University, she was a member of the Model United Nations team for three years, studied abroad in Costa Rica and France, and worked with faculty and students as a peer advisor in  the University Center for International Education.

After graduation Walton left Dayton to work for SIT Study Abroad in Brattleboro, Vermont, where she served as Program Coordinator for college-level study-abroad programs in Europe and Latin America. Three years later she left to work for the Learning Abroad Center at the University of Minnesota, the largest study-abroad office in the country. In her position as Associate Program Director, she manages programs in Thailand, Senegal, London, and Sydney. Walton works to make study abroad more accessible and meaningful to both underrepresented students and STEM students. Recently she was selected to co-lead a volunteer program and will travel to Senegal in the upcoming winter.

Read Vanessa's tips for Modern Language Students (PDF)

Justin Goney (2014 Recipient)

'05 B.A French

Justin Goney earned his B.A. in French from Wright State University in 2005. During his years at WSU he spent two years in France, where he both studied the French language and worked as an English language teaching assistant. Upon returning to Wright State, he completed his TEFL certificate as well as a summer teaching internship in Okayama, Japan. He went on to earn a Master of Arts in French philology/computer science from the University of Helsinki (Finland) in 2012. His thesis project there examined the use of Anglicisms in the French press, which involved designing and implementing his own word classification algorithm, and compiling a completely original French-language corpus of 78+ million words.
Professionally, Mr. Goney's been very successful in combining his education in the humanities with his technical competence. At his current job as a software engineer at NVIDIA, he builds support software to aid in the development of new microchips while also managing internal technical documentation. In his previous position as technical researcher at the University of Helsinki, he built a web-based concordance search tool for performing corpus linguistics research. He is also an experienced educator who has worked in many different teaching environments. In 2005-2006 he was director of English studies for Centre Régionale d'Études Françaises (CREF) in Moscow, and subsequently taught English in Finnish companies before moving on to be a classroom teacher at the International School of Vantaa (Finland). Finally, since 2006 he's worked as a freelance writer, including contributing to the local publications Helsinki Times and SixDegrees.
Mr. Goney's zest for life and all things creative show up both in his work and in his pastimes, which include playing music, photography, and cooking.

A word from Justin (PDF)

Concetta Haldeman Blechschmidt (2013 Recipient)

'06 B.A., French and Spanish

Concetta Blechschmidt holds a Master of Arts in Spanish Literature from The Ohio State University and a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and French from Wright State University.  Ms. Blechschmidt has a wide range of experience teaching Spanish at the university level and in non-traditional corporate and public agency settings.  In 2012, Ms. Blechschmidt started up a company, Traveling Professor, Inc. through which she recently authored an introductory textbook, workbook and video program specifically tailored to the needs of a large company that does a significant portion of its business with Spanish-speaking clients in the US and abroad.  Currently she continues to explore the needs of professionals to effectively communicate with all of their clients or patients.

Ms. Blechschmidt has been serving as a Visiting Spanish Instructor in the Department of Modern Languages at Kenyon College since 2010 and this year is serving as their Director of the KILM (Kenyon Intensive Language Model) Program.  In fall 2014 she will begin working on her doctorate in Foreign Language Pedagogy in the Department of Education at The Ohio State University.

Tips for a Successful Future in Foreign Languages

Nicole Wall (2009 Recipient)

'98 B.S.Ed. K-12 Education-Language

Nicole Wall (Niki) was born in 1963 in Thessaloniki, Greece, and moved to the United States in 1982. She graduated from the Wright State University College of Education and Human Services with a BSed, K-12 Ed--Language in 1998.

After graduation she began teaching German at Springfield High School, building a program of about 20 students into one of up to 120 students! She developed the German program course of study in the district and created an Advanced Placement curriculum for German levels III and IV. For two years she was the chairperson of the foreign language department and also served on and chaired the high school’s faculty advisory council. Currently Niki is the student council advisor for the class of 2009 and the advisor for German club, which is becoming very active in the Springfield community, particularly in promoting environmental responsibility. For several years, Niki has also been organizing student exchange programs in Germany and in Austria, hosting a total of 16 students from abroad. She has been invited to teach English in Austria next school year for English immersion week, and will also be taking several of her American students so that they can attend the school in Austria and stay in the students’ homes. Niki has organized eight student educational trips to Europe, traveling with over 75 students to various countries like Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Greece, and France. Niki is a member of the American Association of Teachers of German and a certified International Baccalaureate teacher; as a future graduate of the Ohio State University’s Master’s program in German, she intends to continue to grow professionally.

Niki says: “Wright State has instilled in me a passion for foreign languages and for teaching!”

Sue Fox (2008 Recipient)

'81 B.A. Modern Languages, '87 M.A. Humanities

At Wright State, Sue Ann Fox majored in Spanish and history, with teaching certification. She graduated summa cum laude as both a University Honors Scholar and a Modern Language Honors Scholar. Sue earned a Master of Humanities Degree from WSU in 1987 and then took additional graduate courses in order to earn her permanent teaching certificate.

At Beavercreek High School in 1983, Sue helped introduce the advanced placement Spanish language course into the curriculum. She accompanied her students to the annual Spanish Immersion Day program at WSU and invited WSU Spanish professors to share their literary and cultural expertise with her students. Many of her students chose to attend WSU and, according to their professors, they were very well prepared for their Spanish courses. She was chosen as one of Beavercreek's Outstanding Teachers of the Year in 2002 and retired from teaching that same year.

Sue devotes a great portion of her time to serving as chair of the worship committee at St. Andrew United Methodist Church. As a volunteer tutor for the Miami Valley Literacy Council, she teaches English to native Spanish-speakers. Sue enjoys cross-stitching, reading history, and taking vacations spent driving along the old state routes rather than the interstates. Sue is an inveterate collector of note cards, and she makes good use of them by writing at least one letter a weekthe nice, old-fashioned kind with envelopes and stamps!

Sue passed on December 11, 2014.
Read Sue Ann Fox Obituary 

Sarah Ross Crabtree (2007 Recipient)

'03 B.A. French

After leaving Wright State University with a major in French and a minor in Spanish, Sarah Ross married Dennis Crabtree and began her career as a language teacher in rural Southeast Ohio. In addition to teaching French I, II, and III as well as Spanish I at Wheelersburg High School, she also teaches elementary Spanish at Shawnee State University. Sarah co-sponsored Wheelersburg High School's Foreign Language Fair, in which she gave Latin dancing lessons and introduced the Tour de France project, a bicycle race modeled after 'la vraie chose.'

Sarah's motto: "You live a new life with every new language you speak," comes from a Czech Proverb, and is one she supports enthusiastically both as a life philosophy and in deed. Last year WHS took their maiden voyage to Europe with Sarah's encouragement, and this year they are organizing a study abroad trip to France and Spain for May of 2007! Sarah is also a member of the 7 Nations Celtic Club, a connection that gave her students the opportunity to carry Brittany's flag in the local St. Patrick's Day Parade.

Even while preparing her Masters of Education in Classroom teaching with a concentration in Fine Arts from Rio Grande University, Sarah made sure to spread her goodwill to others. With Rio Grande, she traveled to China and taught a Rubric workshop to English teachers in Xiían. In addition, she has volunteered with VOSH and KIWANIS international and worked in eye care clinics in Nicaragua and Peru. Sarah is a splendid ambassador for Wright State, bringing her students to campus.

Carl Anthony "Tony" Blau (2006 Recipient)

'82 B.A. German

Tony Blau is a native of Ohio and a graduate of West Carrollton High School. He began learning German in high school and developed his fluency as a Rotary exchange student to Germany. While at Wright State from 1978-82, Tony took all of our advanced German courses and completed a German major in addition to his pre-medical studies. He was also inducted into Delta Phi Alpha, the National German Honor Society, and graduated summa cum laude.

After leaving Wright State, he earned his M.D. degree at The Ohio State University and completed an internship and residency at Duke University. Since 1989, Tony has been at the University of Washington, Seattle, where he is currently professor of medicine in the Division of Hematology. He is author or co-author of seven book chapters, forty-two articles, and dozens of abstracts. His current research is focused on developing a new generation of cell-based therapies. Until recently, Tony was an active soccer player; he continues to enjoy swimming, biking, and racquetball. He and his wife, Sibel, an oncologist and president of a private practice, have four children: Benny, Manya, Elif, and Melisa.

Derek Petrey (2005 Recipient)

'92 B.A. Modern Languages

Derek Petrey was born and raised in Dayton, Ohio. He attended WSU for the last three years of his Bachelor of Arts in Modern Languages and since graduating has been passionately working with language. Derek has taught Spanish and Portuguese languages, literatures and cultures since 1993 when he started his post-graduate work at the Ohio State University. He defended his dissertation in August 2000 and has had experience teaching at various institutions across Ohio. Sinclair Community College hired him in a tenure-track position in the Fall of 2003 and since then he has created a series of successful Spanish language courses for the professions, including Spanish for Law Enforcement, Health Care, and Social Work. David has also received one of 1,000 national NISOD (National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development) awards for excellence in instruction for 2004.

David enjoys poetry and music of all kinds, and loves international travel, having visited Chile, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Guatemala and a few countries in Europe. He still attends the church he grew up in, Eastmont United Methodist, where he chairs the Staff-Parish Relations Committee and sings in the choir.

Colette Thompson Stockum (2004 Recipient)

'83 B.A. Modern Languages

Colette used her language skills for many years; first as a translator and copy editor for TV Guide, and then as a senior editor at Time-Life. In 2002, she decided to go into teaching and started at the Dayton Academy, teaching Spanish to first, second, and third graders and opening up the world of another language and culture to inner-city children.

She went to back to school full time for a M.Ed. degree and is now teaching Spanish in kindergarten through sixth grade at Patterson-Kennedy Elementary School.

Michelle Streeter-Ferrari (2003 Recipient)

'97 B.A. International Studies and Modern Languages

Michelle's honors at Wright State include induction into the national French and Spanish honorary societies, Golden Key, and Phi Kappa Phi; she was elected vice-president of the WSU chapter of Phi Delta Phi, the Honor Society for International Scholars. After studying abroad in Spain, England and Argentina, she returned to WSU to work first in the College of Business and then the University Center for International Education. She started at the Center as Coordinator for Exchange and Study Aboard programs and is currently serving as Director of Curriculum Development and Inter-Institutional Relations.

Ana Maria Douglas (2002 Recipient)

'79 B.S. Spanish Education

Ana Maria Douglas, a native of Spain , received an M.A. in Spanish from Bowling Green State University in 1985 and has done extensive graduate work in French. She has been an instructor and then a lecturer of Spanish in the Department of Modern Languages, teaching a wide range of courses. In 1997, Wright State's Greek Affairs Council gave her an “Outstanding Faculty Member of the Year” award.