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Jacksonville UniversityOffice of Admissions

2800 University Blvd. N., Jacksonville, FL 32211

Department of World Languages, Literatures, and Cultures

Division of Humanities

Jacksonville University
2800 University Blvd N.
Jacksonville, Florida, 32211

Tel. 904-256-7102

Designed by prof. Jorge. M. 2011. Jacksonville University.

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Many years ago I enrolled as a freshman at Florida State University (FSU), planning to major in French and Spanish. Halfway to graduation, my plans changed when I got married. This was the 60s, after all. In a couple of years I was back at FSU in a different major, leaving my dreams for French and Spanish behind. After graduation I taught science first in Gadsden County and then in Leon County before returning home to Jacksonville. Northwestern Junior High and Terry Parker High School were great places to teach and I learned as much about teaching as my students learned about science.

After earning a Master’s degree in science education at the University of North Florida (UNF) I began work at the district level as a science resource teacher. It was a chance to see the broad picture of science education from Kindergarten through graduation and to learn how a school district operates. Now my students were classroom teachers from elementary grades through physics, learning about a range of concepts and skills from the Everglades ecosystem to probeware for collecting motion data. French and Spanish were not forgotten, though, as I enrolled in community education classes at night and summer workshops to keep somewhat current in these languages. Along the way I never got rid of any of my French or Spanish books, hoping they would be useful one day.

When UNF began its doctoral program in Educational Leadership, I enrolled and was back in class at night and on weekends, finishing in 1999. Another role, district supervisor for science, presented itself in 2001. Over the past eleven years many interesting opportunities have come my way: helping to implement a federal Urban Systemic Initiative grant for science and math, guiding district science requirements and curriculum, building a strong science team. However, the most exciting part of the past five years has been working toward a goal I thought was impossible:  earning a degree in French at Jacksonville University.

Here’s how it happened… I audited French 201 and 202 with Dr. Thérèse O’Connell in 2007-08 to refresh some basic language skills such as reviewing the tenses of verbs and proper pronunciation. Then I jumped into the degree program, needing only 30 hours due to my previous degrees. Since Fall 2008 I have taken one course per term by taking leave time from my job (with the permission of my supervisor) and am on track to graduate in May. My husband, Dr. Fred Senftleber in the Chemistry Department, has been very supportive of my goal. Dr. O’Connell has been exceptionally understanding when my work duties require me to miss class and very helpful in directing my research in French literature. 

My special interest is French and francophone literature written in the period between World War I and II up to the present day. The first Independent Study that Dr. O’Connell guided for me was focused on a recently discovered novel by Irène Némirovsky, a Russian émigré to France and prolific novelist who was arrested and died in a concentration camp during World War II.  My current Independent Study explores the background of the Goncourt Prize in Literature (novels in particular), one of the most prestigious French literary prizes, and some of its current winners. Although each annual winner only receives a prize of 10 Euros, their success as an author is guaranteed.

While I have ties to JU through my husband and my mother (Class of 1959, Jacksonville Junior College), I could not have found a better place to complete a degree in French. The French program at JU has a breadth and depth that allows students to experience a wide range of important topics. We have learned phonetics so that we can pronounce French words correctly. We have explored French cinema, appropriately so since the French Lumière brothers were pioneers in early film making. We have read French and francophone literature from the 1800s through this decade. We have struggled with translating French idioms into English and vice versa (sometimes our carrottes were cuites!). And, of course, we have worked hard on grammar and composition so that we speak and write as correctly as possible. Along the way, Dr. O’Connell has provided serious examples and funny anecdotes from her deep background in all things French.

As you have gathered, I am not a traditional student, being quite a bit older than my classmates. I must say, though, that all the young adults I have encountered have been very supportive and being in class with them is always enjoyable. They keep me up-to-date (au courant for Dr. O’Connell) and I may have surprised some of them on a few occasions with some of my interests (Dark Angel, anyone?). In short, being a student at JU has been an exceptionally rewarding experience for which I am deeply grateful. With an encouraging environment and hard work, dreams can indeed come true.

by Ruth Senftleber, JU French major