Awards and Honors

Faculty and Students


Department of Modern Languages and College of Liberal Arts Outstanding Senior, Spanish

Francisco Marqués-Vuelta , graduated Fall 2017

“Thanks to my studies at Wright State, I learned a lot about my own culture. I have been able to appreciate the history of Spain and Latin America from a more objective perspective than the one I had been taught in Spain, my home country. Sometimes things look clearer from afar. For example, I became interested in Afro-Hispanic history, one that still remains undiscovered in much of Spain and Latin America. I also learned a lot about Latin American culture from WSU organizations such as Amigos Latinos. Through my interactions with them, I continue to learn about the current situation of Hispanics and Latinos in the United States.”

Francisco Marqués-Vuelta obtained a degree in Private Investigation from the Criminology Institute, College of Law, University of Barcelona and developed his career as a private detective in his native Spain. There, he held leadership positions in several world detective organizations. 

Upon moving to the United States, Francisco enrolled in Wright State’s Spanish program and quickly earned a reputation not only for his stellar academics but also for his many thoughtful contributions to the Spanish program and the Department of Modern Languages.  For example, he generously shared his knowledge of technology by teaching a workshop on Prezi to other Spanish students in the class and by working as a Spanish Supplemental Instruction Leader.  An accomplished guitar player, he has generously shared his musical talents and a collection of indigenous Hispanic instruments. He served as a volunteer photographer of the Modern Languages events and presented at Spanish immersion days for several years.  As President of the Spanish Club, Francisco contributed dozens of Spanish movies, a pop-corn machine, and many other authentic Spanish artifacts. He also participates in several events related to Spanish and the Hispanic community in Dayton, such as PACO (Puerto Rican, American and Caribbean Organization).

Francisco’s many contributions have earned him a place on the Dean’s List, and honorary memberships in the Spanish National Honor Society Sigma Delta Pi, the Golden Key National Society of Leadership, and Phi Kappa Phi.

Francisco possesses a sharp and witty pen and has published numerous opinion pieces and columns in Spanish regional newspapers. Here in Dayton, Francisco publishes in the local Latino newspaper La Vanguardia, which circulates 10,000 copies in the Dayton-Cincinnati-Columbus region.

Upon graduating from the Spanish program in the Fall of 2017, Francisco enrolled in the WSU Master of Humanities Program to complete a thesis on African influences on Latin American culture and Hispanic music. He would like to expand the more traditional focus on the African-influenced Caribbean music by examining the previously overlooked African influences on lesser-known geographical areas. These include northern Argentina, which has traditionally utilized the bombo legüero, a large drum made of a hollowed-out tree trunk, and Peru, the birthplace of the cajón music, a genre that incorporates an empty wooden fruit box. This research will greatly expand our understanding of African cultural influences on the South American continent and beyond.

Francisco completed a study abroad program in Puerto Rico and he loves to travel all over the States to learn about other “foreign” (to him) cultures. Up to now, he has visited 17 states in the mainland USA.

Department of Modern Languages Outstanding Senior, Arabic

Karen Cover, graduated Spring 2018

Karen "K-dean" Cover was born in Kingston, Jamaica and recently graduated summa cum laude with an Arabic minor and a Mass Communications major.  Having lived in Dubai, United Arab Emirates for several years, she developed a sincere appreciation for the peaceful and disciplined local people, their language, and culture. K-dean discovered an innate ability for learning to read and write Arabic which inspired her to enroll in Wright State University's Modern Languages Arabic program. Cultural diversity and a large cross-section of native Arab students proved a powerful selling point in her choice of educational institutions. Throughout her scholarly endeavors, she remained a devoted member of the Arabic Club, relishing her every memory of each Arabic film and experience she enjoyed as a result.  With her bubbly personality and congenial disposition, K-dean was always ready, willing and able to assist or tutor her fellow students and was oftentimes credited for motivating others to improve and succeed with their efforts. Living to serve and uplift others remains her greatest joy. 

In reflection on her years with the Modern Languages department, K-dean references the impressive tutelage and pedagogical methods of Dr. Joshua Mabra and Instructor Amira Orr and credits her accomplishments on their behalf. With her newly acquired skill set and increased degree of confidence, she looks forward to returning to the Arab world on a whole new level, reuniting with good friends and business associates, with a much clearer understanding of her environment in great measure, thanks to WSU's Arabic program.

Aside from her academic achievements, she has been successful in pursuing her passion for music which began when she headed to Los Angeles where she was introduced to the iconic pop group The Commodores who signed her to an exclusive five-year publishing contract after recognizing her songwriting talent. Her first published song "I Wanna Rock You" was recorded and released by the Commodores on their 1986 "United" album.  Karen has collaborated with superstars among whom are Prince, Will Smith, and Fergie.  She has also made appearances in the film and television industry in, among others, Die Hard 2, Deep Cover and The Arsenio Hall Show.  Since the 1990s, she has toured all over from Europe, Canada, Malaysia, China, Central America to Dubai headlining shows and has garnered the moniker "The Entertainment Queen of Dubai" for her impressive performances.  

At Wright State, Karen hosts a radio show entitled "K-dean Vybz" on Friday nights from 9-11pm (EST) on WWSU 106-9FM while successfully maintaining a solid 4.0-grade point average.  After graduation, she plans to continue her education by attending Massachusetts Institute of Technology for a Master's Degree in Media Arts & Sciences. 

Department of Modern Languages Outstanding Senior, Chinese

Hailie Spradling, graduated Spring 2018

Hailie Spradling graduates with a Chinese Studies minor, an International Studies Major,  and a TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) certification.  She has a passion in learning foreign languages, with most of her time spent studying Mandarin Chinese and Japanese.  She is also learning Korean through self -study.  She plans to continue to study languages after graduation as she has learned so much already and wishes to continue while breaking down as many personal language barriers that she can. 

Through her time at Wright State, Hailie has found how much she loves to travel by traveling to South Korea and Japan.  She hopes to one day put her Chinese language skills into use by adding China to that list.  After graduation, she plans on teaching English somewhere in Southeast Asia. She is very grateful to have had professors Haili Du and Dr. Maan Broadstock as her teachers. She feels that they have both taught her much and she could not have done this without them. 

Department of Modern Languages Outstanding Senior, German

Ehron Ostendorf, graduating Summer 2018

Ehron Ostendorf is a Daytonian, graduating with a minor in German and a major in English, creative writing concentration. Ehron chose to study German because it’s in his heritage and he told himself that if he ever got the chance to learn a language, it would be German. After a trip to Germany and Austria with Wright State German professors Dr. Renate Sturdevant and Ms. Miriam Powers in 2017, Ehron fell in love with Germany, its people, and its culture, so he decided on a German minor. Ehron loves to immerse himself in the study of language and how it’s used in all its variances. He says, “Language is how we connect with people. It’s how we derive meaning and understanding in life.”

In addition to being awarded the German Program Outstanding Senior, he was also accepted into Delta Phi Alpha German honor society’s Wright State Theta Iota Chapter. He will take the Goethe Test for German language to add as a certificate to his résumé to help him in looking for a job, and because it’s a goal he wants to accomplish for himself.

After graduation, Ehron hopes to find work in Germany or work for an American company that has business ties to Germany. By learning German, Ehron feels like his job opportunities and future has opened up. He wants to combine knowledge of English and German in his work life.

Department of Modern Languages Outstanding Senior, French

Paige Bokman, graduating Fall 2018

Paige Bokman grew up in the greater Cleveland area and graduated from Olmsted Falls High School in 2015. She graduates from Wright State with a dual major in French and International Studies and a minor in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies in December 2018. She has been studying French since she was 14 years old and started studying Arabic at Wright State University in 2016. She will combine those interests through a research paper in French on the portrayal of Middle Eastern immigrants in French modern and popular culture. Paige has been on the Dean's List and is a member of the Honor's Program.

Paige is an active student in Modern Languages. She studied abroad for 6 months in Lyon, France, is a member of Pi Delta Phi, the French Honors Society, as well as the Wright State French club, and volunteered with French Immersion days. She tutors other students in French and spends her free time reading stories in French and watching French films to further her skills in the language. Though her Arabic skills are still elementary, she finds songs and films in Arabic to challenge herself and further her skills.

After graduation, Paige plans to continue her education by applying to multiple universities abroad, including some universities in North Africa. She hopes to continue studying French and Arabic throughout her graduate studies, which will likely be focused on her language studies or Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies. She plans to work with an international organization where she can put all of her language skills and education to use.


Department of Modern Languages and College of Liberal Arts Outstanding Senior, French

Jacob Alan Miller, graduating Summer 2017

We are proud to announce that the Department of Modern Languages has unanimously chosen Jacob Alan Miller as our Outstanding Senior for 2017. Jacob spent an entire academic year (2015-2016) in Lyon studying abroad with the USAC program, where he developed excellent fluency and cultural competency in French. He is a dual French/International Studies major, and will graduate in August 2017, after Summer Session A.

Jacob is a wonderfully polite and genuine person. He has worked hard to achieve an excellent GPA, and in his humble way, has earned the respect and friendship of his peers and professors. He has served as a TA in Elementary French classes, and is currently a paid French tutor for the Women’s Basketball Team and a Supplemental Instruction Leader for (FR 1020), recruiting many students to the French minor and major by offering extra study sessions to beginning French students. He is appreciated for his gentle guidance and consistently positive attitude.

Jacob’s hobbies include swimming, hanging out with friends, finding adventure, and snapchatting his niece. He currently volunteers at the St. Vincent de Paul shelter in Dayton, and recently signed a 2 ½ year commitment with the Peace Corps. He will be leaving in July for Guinea, Africa, where he will be teaching English in a high school and assisting with other projects that the community wishes to accomplish. He is enthusiastic about the prospect of using his French to help people in need, and is taking FR 3320 Francophone African Culture and Literature course in order to prepare for the experience. After his Peace Corps commitment, he plans to continue his studies in the aims of filming and producing documentaries in post-war countries.

In Jacob’s words:

“My French studies have allowed me to meet more people and connect with them in ways that I wouldn't have been able without knowledge of the French language. I have had the opportunity to see ways of life different from my own and to learn what people from different cultures, countries, and religions experience.  My experience in Lyon taught me that no matter who we are or where we come from, we all want the same things in life.  All human beings want to know that others care about them, and they want to be able to live a happy and fulfilling life.

As a student, the study of French has taught me to think deeper about the meaning of things. Whether reading a comic book or an African story, I am interested in the reason the author wrote it, what experience the author wished to share, and why he or she thought it was important enough to communicate to other people.

I'm really excited about living in Sub-Saharan Africa, and I can’t even begin to imagine my accommodations or new diet. I hope that I will be welcomed by the community and that they will teach me their customs and traditions, and that by being with them I will get to experience a completely different world. At the same time, I'm nervous that I won't be able to do as great as a job as I hope to.  I worry that if a student asks me a question, I won't be able to provide him/her with an answer.

My hero is Frankin D. Roosevelt because even through his problems with polio he was able to persevere and accomplish many outstanding feats. And the quote that defines my life experience is John 13:7 “Jesus replied, ‘You do not understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.’”  I am inspired by this passage because, in my own life, I never really have a plan for what I am doing, I just let things happen and so far I have been given amazing opportunities.

Department of Modern Languages Outstanding Senior, Arabic

Kirsten Smith, graduating Fall 2017

Kirsten Smith grew up in Springfield, Ohio, and graduated from both Clark State Community College with her Associate's of Arts and Northwestern High School in 2014. She will graduate with a dual major in Spanish and French and a minor in Arabic. She has been studying Spanish since she was 11 years old, and started studying both French and Arabic at Wright State University in 2014. She has completed a research paper in Spanish on terrorism in Central and South America, will be starting a research paper on the influence of the Arabic language in modern French rap, has been on the Dean's List, is a member of the Honor's Program, and will be graduating in December of 2017.

Kirsten is an active student in Modern Languages. She volunteers at all Spanish, French, and Arabic Immersion Days, has travelled to Paris and Normandy, France as a student in the Ambassador Program, will be travelling to Quebec for another Ambassador Program, recently participated in the Celebration of Research's plenary session where she presented her research, and goes above and beyond the classroom to improve her knowledge of Arabic culture and language. To expand her vocabulary and practice her Arabic, she spends hours in her professors' offices practicing conversation skills and learning about dialects. She volunteers in her professors' classes to help others with Arabic whenever she has free time during the school day, and spends her free time reading short stories in Arabic and Arabic poetry. Kirsten has also gone above the requirements for the Arabic minor, and continues taking classes to expand her knowledge of the Arabic language.

After graduation, Kirsten plans on continuing her education. She plans to apply to multiple universities abroad, including many universities in North Africa and the Middle East. She hopes to continue studying Spanish, French, and Arabic by majoring in French or Arabic and specializing in North African poetry and literature, while continuing to take Spanish throughout her educational career. She plans to receive her Ph.D. abroad, and afterwards become a professor, as she has been inspired by her wonderful professors here at Wright State University. 

Department of Modern Languages Outstanding Senior, Chinese

Deborah Rocheleau, graduating Spring 2017

 Deborah Rocheleau is a language fanatic. As a TESOL student, she’s had the opportunity to work closely with the LEAP program, helping students from all language backgrounds to succeed in college. A student of Spanish and Chinese herself, she believes languages provide an opportunity to see the world in a whole new way. Upon starting at Wright State in 2013, she quickly got involved in the Chinese club, a group which fosters intercultural friendships between Chinese international and language students. In 2015, she became president of the club, continuing its mission to promote Chinese culture and language learning on campus.

Her foreign language classes have heightened her skills in her native English, which she uses to write creatively. Her short stories and poetry have appeared in Tin House Open Bar, Flights, 100 Word Story, and Mock Turtle Zine. She currently has a novel under consideration with a literary agent. She will continue next year at Wright State as a graduate student and English TA, teaching an English 1100 course. 

Department of Modern Languages Outstanding Senior, Spanish

Emma Towe, graduating Spring 2017

Emma Towe will graduate with a dual major in International Studies and Spanish. She has been studying and practicing Spanish since her freshman year of high school and has always enjoyed learning about foreign culture and customs, even dabbling in other languages such as Mandarin Chinese and German.

Emma has been active in the Hispanic community in her area since she started learning Spanish. She has worked at El Toro Bar & Grill in Vandalia, Ohio, for three years now and thoroughly practicing her Spanish with coworkers. She regularly assists her manager by translating paperwork for him and resolving misunderstanding with customers. Since she began waitressing, she has become good friends with her coworkers and has helped them in their personal lives as well, everything from translating during doctor appointments to helping a friend go through the process of adopting a kitten! Emma could not be more grateful for the opportunities and friendship she has gained from learning the Spanish language.

During the fall of her junior year at Wright State, Emma had the experience of a lifetime during her semester abroad in Bueno Aires, Argentina. There she fully immersed herself in the language, culture, and cuisine of the “Birthplace of Tango.” She challenged herself and her language skills while travelling all over the country with her now-fiancé to experience the breathtaking news of glaciers, mountains, and even penguins. She brought home with her a new perspective on life and even stronger craving for learning more of the Spanish language.

After graduating in the spring, Emma will be attending the University of Dayton School of Law on a full-tuition scholarship to pursue her dream of becoming an immigration lawyer. She would like to thank her family, friends, fiancé, and professors for always supporting her and challenging her to be the best that she can be.


Department of Modern Languages Outstanding Senior, Chinese

Allison Mills, graduating Spring 2016

Allison Mills will graduate with an International Studies major, a Chinese minor, and a TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) certification. She first experienced her zeal for learning languages through studying Spanish in high school. Coming to Wright State, she knew that studying language would be an integral part of her future. As it turns out, learning one of the world’s most ancient languages became her new passion! 

Allison is vice-president of the Chinese club; she loved to help prepare for and participate in the annual Chinese Immersion Day. She also studied in China on the 2015 Ambassador Program to China with both of her professors, Haili Du and Dr. Maan Broadstock. They visited 5 major cities including Beijing, Chengdu, Xi’an, Shanghai, and Suzhou. From beholding incredible historical sites, eating delicious cuisine, practicing her beloved new language, and forming new friendships, she is eager to return!Allison Mills.jpg

After graduation, Allison plans to teach English in either Taiwan or China before attending graduate school. She would eventually like to pursue her master’s degree in either foreign language education or TESOL. Allison wants to become an educator because she believes that good teachers are a catalyst for change. “They are able to see who a student can become and invest themselves to change students’ lives for the better. If it wasn’t for the incredible teachers I’ve had, I honestly don’t know where I’d be. They’ve made all the difference in my life. If I can be even half as accomplished as the teachers I’ve had, then I will be a successful educator!”

Allison would like to thank her wonderful Chinese professors for all of their much-appreciated hard work, guidance, and encouragement. As well, she gives a heartfelt thanks to the entire Modern Languages staff as it has been an honor to both work with and learn from them. Lastly, she’d like to thank her family and friends for always loving and supporting her. “Truly, God has blessed me with some tremendous people! I am thankful for them everyday!”

Department of Modern Languages and College of Liberal Arts Outstanding Senior, German

Daniel Moody, graduating Spring 2016

Daniel Moody is a German major at Wright State. He’s had a passion for languages for as long as he can remember. When he was a small child, his grandmother and German-speaking grandfather came to live with his family. From this, the seeds for a lifelong love of languages were sewn. In high school, Mr. Moody took four years of Latin and fell completely in love with grammar. He finally took his first German classes (German I and II simultaneously) during his senior year of high school and decided that his future had to involve studying the language. Daniel.jpg

Thus, he began his academic career at Sinclair Community College, studying German, before transferring to Wright State in 2014 to continue with German and to finish his BA. For Mr. Moody, Wright State was the right choice, and he will always think fondly of the experiences he had and the people he met while completing his degree.

Department of Modern Languages Outstanding Senior, Spanish

Martha A. Conkel, graduating Spring 2016

Martha was born and raised in Dayton, Ohio where she was homeschooled throughout middle school and high school. She attended Sinclair Community College for two years before transferring to Wright State University, from which she will be the last of four children to graduate. She studied Spanish throughout high school, but her passion for it was inspired by her multiple trips to Colombia starting in 2012. During these trips, she was able to act as an English teacher, interpreter, as well as experience a new culture.Martha.jpg

During her time at Wright State, she has had the opportunity to improve her Spanish and practice cross-cultural interaction by working as an Orientation Leader for incoming international students as well as a Supplemental Instruction Leader. She has been an active member of International Friendships Inc. (IFI) for the past three years, where she has enjoyed building relationships with Wright State’s international students and learning about their many cultures. She is currently doing an internship with the Hispanic Catholic Ministry through the Department of Modern Languages where she is able to use her Spanish to serve the Hispanic population in Dayton.

Martha is honored to receive this award and would like to thank God for His grace and provision, her parents for their love and support, as well as Wright State’s incredibly talented Spanish professors for their guidance and encouragement. After graduation, she plans to return Colombia to teach English and then to become a medical interpreter here in the US. She currently works at La Colombiana Restaurante in Beavercreek where she enjoys practicing her Spanish, and meeting customers from all over the world.

Department of Modern Languages Outstanding Senior, French

Roufia Dehmani, graduating Spring 2016

Roufia was born in Oran, Algeria, and studied Civil Engineering at the University of Science and Technology in her hometown. She began her career working in building construction, moving on when she had the opportunity to complete a yearlong intensive course at the Algerian Institute for Advanced Railway Studies. After completing her certification, she worked for the Algerian Railway System for four years, traveling to sites all over the country at any hour of the day. After moving to Dayton, Ohio in 2008 and subsequently receiving an Associate’s Degree in Computer Science & Software Development from Sinclair College, Roufia realized that she would not be happy living in the world of numbers and codes, so she decided to follow her childhood dream of earning a degree in French in the aims of becoming a teacher.Roufia.png

Roufia has made the most of her short career at Wright State. In addition to earning her B.A. in French in record time, she has served Wright State and the local community in many capacities. In spring 2015, she engaged in service learning at Horace Mann Elementary School in Dayton, where she supported her cooperating teacher by tutoring children with special needs. In addition, she enrolled in two French courses at Wright State with service-learning components, taking on leadership roles during the Annual French Immersion Day, where WSU welcomed 250 high school students of French for a day of French speaking based on the theme of the French Caribbean, and during “Wright State French Days,” an annual spring event where WSU French students give interactive presentations and French lessons in local high schools.

In addition to her service, Roufia distinguished herself academically, with inductions into two prestigious honor societies (Phi Kappa Phi and Pi Delta Phi, the National French Honor Society). In Spring 2016 she was selected to be a Supplemental Instruction Leader for Elementary French 1010, and took a course on language pedagogy, giving class presentations and tutoring students outside of class. Her presentation on Algeria included a mint tea ceremony and home made Algerian desserts, which transported students to her beautiful home country.

Roufia's Departmental Honor's Project comprised a fascinating study of Algerian author Yasmina Khadra's novel À quoi rêvent les loups? [What Do Wolves Dream About?], set during the "Black Decade," a period of civil war that marked Roufia's childhood.

Roufia will be continuing her French studies at the University of Cincinnati, for a Master’s Degree in French. She plans to teach at either the high school or college level, where she will share her rich life experience and passion for French with her future students.


Department of Modern Languages and College of Liberal Arts Outstanding Senior, French

Jasmine Higgins, graduating Summer 2015                                            Jasmine pic.jpg

Jasmine Higgins is a senior dual-major in French and Mass Communications, who has been studying French language and culture since her freshman year of high school. Currently serving as the Vice-President of Wright State’s French Club, she organizes and participates in club events, including our first French karaoke night. Jasmine studied abroad through Wright State’s Ambassador Program led by Dr. Pascale Abadie and Dr. Kirsten Halling in the summer of 2013, where she took part in the first Ambassador Internship in Bordeaux, working in an at-risk high school. After returning from France, armed with confidence and enthusiasm, she increased her participation in the Modern Languages Department.

Jasmine is a proud member of the Theta Epsilon chapter of the National French Honor Society, Pi Delta Phi, inducted in 2014. Given her academic achievements, she has had the privilege of working closely with the Modern Languages Department as a Supplemental Instructor and an elementary language course assistant. She has also contributed to the success of the annual French Immersion Day for high school students.

Jasmine will graduate in summer 2015, after returning to France with the annual Ambassador Program, during which she plans to experience French media firsthand through an internship in Paris.

Jasmine is honored to receive this award, and wishes to thank the French section for their guidance. She is grateful for their passion and encouragement, which have inspired her to try new opportunities. She credits her success as an undergraduate student largely to her close involvement with her French professors and peers. She would also like to thank her family for their constant love and support.

Jasmine lives in Dayton and works at a local radio station. She plans to use her skills in French and Communications to begin a career in international broadcasting.

Department of Modern Languages Outstanding Senior, Spanish

Larissa Swartz, graduating Spring 2015                                                                                                   Spring break 006.JPG

Larissa Swartz is a Spanish major graduating in May 2015 who is also completing her certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). Spanish was her first cultural and linguistic love since high school when she first started studying it and traveled abroad for the first time.

Studying in the Department of Modern Languages has been an enjoyably enriching experience for Larissa as she has had the opportunity to garner not only linguistic and cultural knowledge, but pedagogical knowledge in second language instruction from her professors. After being inducted into the Hispanic Honors Society in fall of 2013, Larissa was honored to receive a scholarship through Sigma Delta Pi to study in Spain for a month in July of 2014.

In fall of 2014, Larissa also participated as one of the first modern language interns and spent the semester using her Spanish by serving Hispanic immigrants at the Ministerio Hispano Católico in Dayton. This spring semester, Larissa has enjoyed her TESOL internship in the LEAP program, as well as working closely with Dr. Serrano on her Honors project about the spiritual evolution of Spain.

Larissa has enjoyed the opportunity through Wright State to build lasting international friendships through which the mutual exchange of language and culture has expanded her world. After graduation, she plans to continue working with international students in Dayton through International Friendships Inc. (IFI) and to apply for an opportunity to teach English abroad through the Fulbright program.

Larissa is honored to receive this award and could not have accomplished so much in her undergraduate study if not for the grace of God and the love and support of her parents, sister, professors, Dr. Serrano, and close friends here in Dayton. She currently resides in Fairborn with her Cuban American friend and fellow musician, Caty.

Department of Modern Languages Outstanding Senior, Arabic

Hannah Simard, graduating Spring 2015                                                              Hannah photo 2.jpg

Hannah Simard grew up in Boston, Massachusetts, where she was exposed to a variety of cultures and languages.  It was during middle school that Hannah first discovered her love of languages, and by the time she graduated high school was fluent in Portuguese.  Hannah is also a fluent speaker of Spanish.  Once at Wright State, Hannah sought out a new linguistic challenge and began studying Arabic—and she quickly fell in love with the language and culture of the Middle East.  Hannah has studied four years of Modern Standard Arabic at Wright State, and through travel and self-study she has become familiar with the Egyptian and Moroccan dialects. 

In 2013, Hannah received a Gilman Scholarship to study Arabic in Meknes, Morocco for a semester, and since that experience she has been a great advocate for promoting study abroad on campus.  Hannah is an avid traveller, and in addition to traveling through North Africa, she has spent time in England, Scotland, Spain, Germany, Portugal and Italy.  Hannah currently works in the University Center for International Education (UCIE) at Wright State as a study abroad peer mentor and event coordinator.  Hannah will be completing her Bachelor of Arts in International Studies in the Spring of 2015, with a double minor in Spanish and Arabic.  After graduation, Hannah hopes to continue her study of Arabic while pursing an M.B.A.

Department of Modern Languages Outstanding Senior, German

Megan Ruter, graduating Spring 2015                                                  Megan Ruter.jpg

Megan Ruter is an International Business major and German minor. Her love of languages and cultures comes from her upbringing in an Air Force Family.  She has experienced a wide variety of cultures and languages first-hand from a very early age.  Megan has lived in the Republic of Korea and Portugal. Living abroad enabled her to visit many other Asian and European countries.  Thanks to these broad experiences, she pursued learning about other countries and their language and culture. This desire to continue learning encouraged her to take French throughout high school and pursue her degree in International Business.

Because of heritage she decided to add German to her repertoire and she undertook a German minor. While studying German, Megan participated in the Study Abroad Ambassador Program to Munich with Dr. Sturdevant in the summer of 2013. She is a member of the German Honor Society, Delta Phi Alpha.  Megan will graduate in May 2015 and hopes to continue developing her language skills by experiencing other cultures first-hand in an international corporation.

Department of Modern Languages Oustanding Senior, Chinese

Najee Woods, graduating Fall 2015                                                                     Najee.jpg

Najee Woods is a Political Science major and Chinese Studies minor. When he was 15 years old, he became interested in learning Chinese because he wanted to understand Taiwanese culture, politics, and society.  After graduating, he aspires to attend National Chengchi University in Taiwan for graduate school to improve his Mandarin skills. From reading Sun-Tzu’s Art of War to Tang Dynasty poems, Najee believes Chinese is one of the most interesting languages in the world. 

When Najee enrolled at Wright State in 2010, he was eager to learn Chinese and took his first class under instructor Marsha Markert who was impressed by his ability to use traditional Chinese characters. According to him, Mrs. Markert gave him stepping stones and the golden opportunity to learn the Chinese language.  “She was one of the best teachers I ever had at Wright State who pushed me to reach my capabilities, guided, and believed in me. Without Mrs. Markert as my teacher, I wouldn’t be here learning Chinese.  She is simply amazing.”

Najee attributes his motivation to continue Chinese to his girlfriend Jin Yu-Ching, his “mother” Haili Du, and Maan Broadstock who are by his side to support him. When in doubt, they steer him back into the right direction. With their guidance, support, and love, Najee continued studying Chinese for the next four years.  He also feels grateful for his classmates Katherine Grof and Chen Yun Fang for their friendship and helping him improve.

Being honored by Modern Languages is one of the biggest honors he has ever received. Najee feels humbled because his hard work, dedication, and passion for Chinese has caught the department’s attention. When Maan and Haili nominated him as the 2015 Outstanding Senior in Chinese, Najee wanted to cry because of this acknowledgment of his Chinese language achievement.


International Educator Award

Dr. Kirsten Halling

Associate French professor Kirsten Halling, who has helped spur the dramatic growth of Wright State’s French program, led the wildly popular French Immersion Days and nurtured an appreciation of France in the community, was named recipient of the university’s 2014 International Education Award.                                                                                Kirsten.jpg

Read the WSU Newsroom Article

Outstanding Graduate Scholar for the World Languages Teacher Preparation Program    yuppa.JPG

Marie Jergens M.Ed, graduating Spring 2014

Ms. Erica Marie Jergens (BA in French, 2011, WSU) is the 2014 outstanding graduate scholar from the World Languages Teacher Preparation Program in the College of Education and Human Services at Wright State University.  Mr. Joe Yuppa, World Languages Program Director, states that, "As a future teacher, Erica already demonstrates many qualities of a seasoned, best-practices teacher.  Not only is she highly competent in her field, but she has proven through her coursework and field experiences in K-12 classrooms that she can blend the art of communication and culture beautifully into her everyday lessons.  Her students will be lucky to have such an enthusiastic and highly effective teacher."  

Department of Modern Languages Outstanding Senior, Arabicbrenda.png

Brenda Hershey, graduating Spring 2014

Brenda Hershey was in the process of deciding which language to pursue for the next three years and beyond, and influenced by her cousin, spontaneously registered for Arabic classes a week late.  Her long term goal was to become fluent in a language she could utilize and incorporate into her broader interests: international peace, politics, and humanitarian rights.  As an international studies major with an area focus in peace and diplomacy, Brenda has diligently engaged herself on campus as President of the Arabic Club, created in the fall of 2014, and tutored LEAP students her freshman year.  She has become familiar with several dialects of the Arabic language, specifically the Gulf dialect, in addition to the Modern Standard Arabic taught in classes.

Brenda is greatly honored to receive this award and wishes to thank her Arabic instructor Amira Orr for guiding her through the past three years of Arabic.  Without Amira, the only Arabic professor at Wright State, there would not have been an Arabic program and Brenda wouldn’t have discovered her passion for this beautiful language.  She has very much enjoyed being a small part of expanding the Arabic program at Wright State with Amira, and hopes to see it continue to advance over the coming years.
Brenda wishes to travel and pursue Arabic by involving herself with the roots of the language: Middle Eastern culture, religion, and people.

Department of Modern Languages Outstanding Senior, Chinese

Ashley E. Binns, graduating Spring 2014                           ashley.png

Ashley E. Binns is a senior English-TESOL major who fell in love with the Chinese language by being a language partner to a Chinese student her freshmen year. She was a peer mentor this past Fall semester, is a member of the Golden Key International Honour Society, and the vice-president of the Chinese club.

Ashley is honored to receive this award and likes to thank her instructors for all their teaching and guidance. She would also like to thank all her Chinese friends at Wright State who have encouraged her and helped her not only with the language but also with the learning about the culture of China as well.

Ashley is currently working for Possum School and New Carlisle Elementary School during parent teacher conferences by translating for parents who speak Mandarin Chinese.

Ashley plans to go to China to teach English. She is also considering getting her Ph.D. in Chinese.

She resides in Huber Heights with her parents, two brothers, and her niece. ​​

Department of Modern Languages Outstanding Senior, French 


Kayla Schaub, graduating Spring 2014

Kayla Schaub is a French major graduating this summer who has been studying French language and culture since her freshman year of high school. As the Vice-President of our active French Club and a member of Pi Delta Phi, the French National Honor Society, Kayla has benefited from everything the Modern Language Department has to offer. Kayla looks forward to pursuing her master’s degree and doctorate in French and plans to dedicate her life to a career in teaching and service. Kayla has had the privilege to engage in experiential learning by working as a Supplemental Instruction Leader, attending the Ohio Foreign Language Association Conference in 2013 and designing and realizing her senior honors project, “French Learning Community: Linking Wright State French Students with High School Francophone Immigrants”. All of these experiences have provided ample proof that being a world language educator is her dream career.

Kayla is thrilled to receive this award and is grateful for the expertise and guidance of her Wright State professors, who have given her opportunities she never imagined as an undecided freshman. Her hard work has contributed to her success in Wright State’s French program, but without her famille française, these opportunities would not have been possible. The infinite inspiration and motivation from her professors continue to influence Kayla’s passion and dedication, and she hopes to one day have the same positive impact on her own students.

Kayla lives in Huber Heights with her supportive mom and cherished chien Penny, who have been loving and encouraging throughout her undergraduate journey.

Department of Modern Languages Outstanding Senior, German

Seth Warncke, graduating Spring 2014Seth Warncke Picture.jpg


Seth Warncke is a senior German major whose boots have been muddied with language since stepping in Ginsberg’s “Howl”. He was recognized by Wright State’s Writing Across the Curriculum program as an outstanding student writer in 2013, has a sound command of Spanish, and was recently inducted into Wright State’s chapter of the German National Honor Society, Delta Phi Alpha.

Seth is proud to receive this award and wishes to thank Wright State’s prodigious German professors for their patience, pedagogy, and the plethora of supportive powwows. He has developed his German and thinking during his undergraduate education at Wright State, and will move on to OSU this autumn for a graduate program in German.

Seth hopes to use his knowledge of language and literature to follow in the footsteps of Dr. Sturdevant and Dr. Serrano.
He lives in Dayton behind a bar that suffuses the neighborhood with the scent of cackleberries every morning.

Department of Modern Languages and College of Liberal Arts Outstanding Senior, Spanish

Kaitlyn E. Williams, graduating Spring 2014


Kaitlyn E. Williams is a senior Spanish major whose fascination with the language was sparked by her high school Spanish teacher and a trip to Honduras in 2007. She is a student in the University Honors Program, was recognized by Wright State’s Writing Across the Curriculum program as an outstanding student writer in 2013, and was recently inducted into Wright State’s chapter of the National Collegiate Hispanic Honor Society, Sigma Delta Pi.

Katie is honored to receive this award and wishes to thank Wright State’s talented Spanish professors for all of their instruction, inspiration and encouragement. She has thoroughly enjoyed her undergraduate education at Wright State and plans to enroll in the university’s graduate program for English with a concentration in TESOL this coming fall.

Katie desires to one day become a teacher in a Spanish, English, or bilingual classroom and would like to teach English in a Spanish-speaking country.

She resides in Beavercreek with her parents, four siblings and spoiled Cockapoo, Wrigley.


  • Sinclair Community College, Paul Laurence Dunbar Memorial Poetry Prize: Dr. David Petreman
  • Writing Across the Curriculum Faculty Recognition Recipients: Dr. Renate Sturdevant and Dr. Damaris Serrano
  • Brage Golding Distinguished Professor of Research and College o Liberal Arts Outstanding Research Award: Dr. Stefan Pugh
  • Presidential Award For Faculty Excellence, Outstanding Instructor and College of Liberal Arts Outstanding Lecturer/Instructor Award: Haili Du
  • College of Liberal Arts Outstanding Adjunct Award: Amira Ben-Amer Hollingsworth
  • College of Liberal Arts Outstanding Senior, French: Samantha Stewart
  • College of Liberal Arts Oustanding Senior, German:  Nathan Cardenas
  • College of Liberal Arts Outstanding Senior, Spanish: Colleen Demboski
  •  Presidential Scholar, French and English dual major and Spanish minor: Brandon Broadwater


Southwestern Ohio Council for Higher Education, Faculty Excellence in Teaching: Pascale Abadie


  • President’s Award  for Excellence, Outstanding Collaborative Units: Dual Enrollment Program
  • Ohio Foreign Language Association Ed Allen Award for Outstanding  College Foreign Language Instructor: Dr. Kirsten Halling
  • Presidential  Award for Faculty Excellence, Outstanding Instructor: Pascale Abadie
  • University Teaching Enhancement Fund, Connecting the Wright State Campuses Through Creation of German and Spanish Blended Learning Classes: Dr. Nancy Broughton and Dr. Elfe Dona
  • WSU Writing Across the Curriculum Program, Excellence in Teaching with Writing: Dr. Damaris Serrano


  • Award for Innovative Excellence in Teaching, Learning, and Technology: Dr. Elfe Dona
  • University Center for International Education, Education Abroad Academic Advisor Award: Dr. Elfe Dona
  • The Center for Teaching and Learning 2009 Award for Faculty Development: Dr. Marie Hertzler
  • Southwestern Ohio Council for Higher Education, Faculty Excellence in Teaching: Dr. Marie Hertzler
  • WSU Writing Across the Curriculum Program, Excellence in Teaching with Writing: Dr. Damaris Serrano
  • Sinclair Community College, Paul Laurence Dunbar Memorial Poetry Prize: David Lee Garrison


President’s Award for Faculty Excellence in Early Career Achievement: Dr. Damaris Serrano


Ohio Foreign Language Association, Outstanding Program Award: Wright State University French Program


Scott Dehart.jpgStudent Employee of the Year: Scott DeHeart

Scott DeHart is a 2009 graduate of Wright State University, where he earned his B.S. in Business with dual majors in Human Resources Management and Management and completed a minor in French. He worked as a Student Assistant in the Department of Modern Languages from 2006 to 2009 and was chosen as the 2007 Wright State University Student Employee of the Year. Scott was a member of the collegiate honor societies for French (Pi Delta Phi) and business (Beta Gamma Sigma) and served as President of Campus Crusade for Christ at WSU.  Scott also took part in the 2007 WSU Ambassador Program immersion experience in Paris.

After graduating from WSU, Scott relocated to Cincinnati, Ohio, where he accepted a position as an HR Generalist for CABVI, a private, not-for-profit agency providing comprehensive rehabilitation services for the blind.  In 2011, Scott was promoted to the position of HR Manager and earned his certification as a Professional in Human Resources (PHR).  He continued his education, enrolling as a part-time law student at Northern Kentucky University. On December 2, 2013, Scott will be relocating to New York City, where he is joining the staff of the Fu Foundation College of Engineering and Applied Science, at Columbia University.  Scott will serve as the school’s Associate Director of Human Resources, providing leadership for its recruitment and employee development activities.  He plans to resume his education part-time at one of New York’s schools and complete his law degree.

Scott credits his study of French language at WSU with helping to advance his career.  “Prospective employers have always wanted to hear more about my French minor during interviews; it helped me to stand out as a job candidate.  Business today happens on a global scale, and organizations are increasingly recognizing the value of employees who can navigate different languages and cultures.  By studying a foreign language at WSU, I sharpened my writing skills, learned to communicate across cultural barriers, became more confident with speaking in front of groups, and broadened my understanding of the world.”

Scott's advice for Students considering a Major or Minor in a foreign language: "Go and talk with an advisor about what sort of work you'd enjoy doing after college. Studying a foreign language has so many practical applications -- it might just be the right road to lead you to a career you'll really love!"


  • President’s Award for Excellence, Outstanding  Collaborative Units: Department of Modern Languages And Ambassador Program to Costa Rica
  • Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration Honoree: Dr. Damaris Serrano


  • President’s Award for Faculty Excellence, Outstanding Instructor: Dr. Elfe Dona
  • National Literary Prize for the Republic of Panama: Dr. Damaris Serrano


President’s Award for Excellence, Outstanding Collaborative Units: Department of Modern Languages


Presidential “Leg of the Stool” Award for Excellence in Teaching: Dr. David Petreman