French Scholars Prepare for Prestigious Scholarships, with HelpJune 9, 2014

Preparing to study abroad can be a difficult time, with preparations ranging from arranging lodging to attaining a passport to brushing up on the culture all typically part of the process.

Thankfully for two Rockhurst University students now preparing to travel to France for the summer as part of prestigious scholarships, some of those resources are available in their own peers.

Jessica Murray, a junior studying French and secondary education, and Lillian Barrilleaux, a junior studying psychology and French, will both be leaving for France in the coming weeks. The recipient of the Joseph W. Yedlicka Award from Pi Delta Phi French Honor Society, Murray is bound for a summer semester studying at the American University in Paris. Barrilleaux, the recipient of one of two annual scholarships from the American Society of the French Academic Palms, plans to study this summer at the Sorbonne, also in Paris. The recipients were congratulated during a recent visit by members of the French Cultural Attaché’s office in Chicago.

Barrilleaux said she hopes to sharpen her French language skills, while Murray said she is also interested in the way different influences from around and outside of Europe play off of one another in the French metropolis.

“I think this will be a once-in-a-lifetime chance to study how those cultures intersect in Paris,” she said.

No matter what they intend to focus on, both are high-profile honors for both the students and the University, according to Katie Madigan, Ph.D., professor of modern languages at Rockhurst.

“The criteria for both of these scholarships, really, is pretty tough,” Madigan said.

Even more impressive, Madigan said, is the fact that Murray and Barrilleaux are the second pair of Rockhurst students in recent years to earn those scholarships, after graduates Amy Keating and Ann-Marie Knecht. Keating has also since been chosen by the U.S. Embassy in France for the U.S. Teaching Assistant Program to teach English in France.

Keating and Knecht both still live in the Kansas City area, and Madigan said both have been more than willing to share what they learned with their younger peers.

“The fact that we have four recipients in such a short period is fantastic,” Madigan said. “It’s great for the students to have someone to go to for advice.”

It’s been a resource that both Murray and Barrilleaux welcomed.

“With my scholarship, I set up my own housing and just having someone around who has had to navigate those same things is awesome,” Barrilleaux said. “She’s helped me along and given me some idea of what might be best.”

But in addition to tips on logistics, Knecht said she passed along lessons she learned that were less obvious.

“Being over there ourselves, I definitely had experiences that I’ve shared with both Lillian and Jessica,” Knecht said. “I told them not to be afraid to immerse themselves in the culture while they’re over there.”

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