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Students and Alumni

We have many accomplished students who are active within the department and elsewhere. They are extremely enthusiastic, study—and often also work—hard, show an exceptional level of ability for foreign languages and interest in foreign cultures, actively participate in honor societies, clubs, and other student organizations, and generally contribute to the betterment of Keene State College, our community, and the world.

Our graduates are a living testament to the importance of the study of foreign languages and cultures in a liberal arts education as well as to the many academic and professional doors it can open in a wide variety of fields. We have alumni who have gone into teaching, government services, social work, marketing, USAid Senegal and the Peace Corps in Africa. Others have enrolled in graduate programs at prestigious institutions such as Middlebury College, the University of Massachusetts, Lesley University, the University of Michigan, and the University of Connecticut.


James Cahan ‘13

James Cahan '13 at Pont des Arts, Paris, France
James Cahan '13 at Pont des Arts, Paris, France

James Cahan was a sophomore film major at Keene State College in the summer of 2010 when he decided on a whim to apply to a volunteer program as a private English tutor in Provence, in the south of France. He was accepted and spent two months, he said, "in the most beautiful parts of the world I’ve ever seen. It revolutionized my life and made me absolutely fall in love with French culture."

When he returned, all he thought about was how he could return to France. So he switched to a double major in French and Education. "I’d taken French all through high school and wanted to be an English teacher," he said. "And I knew if I was a French major I’d have to go to France for a semester."

He considers Thomas Durnford his most influential French professor. "He sets up an environment in which the amount of work you put in is the amount of work you’ll get out of it," he said. "He facilitates discussion, sharing of experiences…He doesn’t teach textbook French - we speak slang in class. And he’s living what he’s teaching still. He’s not done being a student of French. His amount of knowledge about French and world history is so inspiring - I always wanted to be a teacher like that."

Cahan spent two months following his graduation as a French and English volunteer classroom teacher for children aged 9 to 18 in Morocco; and next he’s headed to Embrun, a city in the French Alps to teach English as a second language at a high school for eight months. The teacher’s assistant program is facilitated through the French Ministry of National Education. "Tom (Durnford) wrote my recommendation," he said. "He’s given me the platform to succeed on my own," he said.

He credits learning a second language with changing the course of his life completely. "It’s opened doors for me I never could have imagined," he said. "It’s helped me become more globally aware, more compassionate and understanding of differences in the world. As a teacher I’ll try to inspire my students to do the same."

Deanna Garceau ‘11

Deanna Garceau earned her bachelor of arts in French and Spanish and her bachelor of science in Secondary Education from Keene State College, where she was also awarded the prestigious Frank H. Blackington Jr. Award for proficiency in foreign language study.

While a Keene State student, she also received an Outstanding Senior Service Award in 2011 for service to the college and its community and for outstanding leadership and exceptional contributions to the College; the Peter H. Batchelder Memorial Scholarship in 2010 for academic excellence in French, German and Philosophy; and the Michael J. Watters Memorial Scholarship in 2009 for leadership and volunteer service. When she graduated, she had earned recognition in and affiliation to the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, Kappa Delta Pi (Education Honor Society), Pi Delta Phi (French Honor Society), and Sigma Delta Pi (Spanish Honor Society).

During her four years at Keene State, Deanna was able to practice and improve her language skills on a number of occasions. She studied abroad in three countries over the course of two summer sessions, fulfilling the requirements of the language program but only giving her a taste of what rewards traveling has to offer. She flew to Europe in the summer of 2009, where she spent 12 weeks studying with the E.F. International Language School in Paris and found a great appreciation for the French culture. The following summer Deanna studied Spanish in Quito, Ecuador and Playa Tamarindo, Costa Rica with the same language program, each time living with a host family with whom she still remains in contact. She also spent a week with Amizade International on a service trip during winter break in 2009 in Puerto Morelos, Mexico, where she helped her team to rebuild a school playground, build garden boxes and plant vegetables for the community to grow and teach English to the young children at the local school. Her travels abroad prepared her for her time in the classroom, providing her with many incredible experiences to share with her students.

Over the past two years, she has been teaching French and Spanish at Alvirne High School in Hudson. She traveled with 20 students in February of 2012 to Bilbao, Spain, for a week-long exchange program with the Azcartza Claret School. When the Spanish, French and German exchange programs came to Alvirne, she welcomed the students into her classroom and accompanied them on field trips around New England. She has also worked in conjunction with the department to create a remediation program for students struggling with language study. This fall she is teaching three Spanish classes at the high school each morning and two French classes at the middle school in the afternoon. This school year she will also serve as an advisor for the senior class at Alvirne High School. She is looking forward to sharing her leadership skills with the executive board and hopes that many of the 2014 graduates will continue on to become teachers like herself.


James Lavimoniere ‘13

James Lavimoniere '13

Political science major James Lavimoniere decided to take a few elective courses his senior year and chose German 101 and 102. "I’ve always been interested in foreign languages, and German wasn’t offered when I was in high school. I took Spanish instead," he said. "I thought, ‘Why not? I’ll take German.’ "

What started as a way to learn a foreign language led to an acceptance by the ongress-Bundestag Youth Exchange Program and a year in Germany - Lavimoniere leaves in July of 2013. For the first two months, he’ll attend a German language school and go on to study at a German university for four or five months before working as an intern at a German company for the remainder of the year-long stay.

Lavimoniere, an Airman 1st Class in the Air National Guard, is one out of 75 students nationwide selected for the program this year. More than 600 students applied. He would like to work in international relations and said his military background will help.

He credits his German professor, Alison Pantesco, for inspiring him to continue with his German studies. "She told me about the exchange program," he said. She also made her courses interesting, he added. "She told stories, sang songs and explained their lyrics, did German dances and explained some of the culture," he said. "You speak the language a good amount. It’s not just textbook work."

Kyle O’Brien ‘11

Kyle O'Brien '14

When Kyle O’Brien graduated from Keene State College in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in history, he realized he wanted to expand his horizons.

"The ability to communicate with someone else in a foreign language opens opportunities for work, travel and making friends," he said. "I realized I wanted to make German part of everything I do."

The German minor will spend his final semester studying in Austria. When he returns in July of 2014, he plans to earn his master’s degree in German and his doctorate in history before going on to teach at the university level. "I want to teach modern European intellectual history, from mid-18th to mid-19th century." he said.

His German professor, Allison Pantesco, he added, made German his favorite language to study. "She understands different learning styles and brings so much energy to the classroom - you just can’t sit still," he said. "She makes you stand up and sing in German and showed a documentary film on the modern German language and how it’s evolved over the past century. I’ve learned so much in the past year with her (in her German 101 and 102 courses)."

Most importantly, O’Brien’s experiences in his German course has given him the ability to step out of his comfort zone. "I want to experience the world at large," he said.


Jaclyn Efraimson ‘14

Jaclyn Efraimson '14 with host family in Seville
Jaclyn Efraimson '14 with host family in Seville

Since her high school Spanish classes, Jaclyn Efraimson always knew she would teach Spanish at the secondary education level.

When she enrolled at Keene State College, it was her Spanish professors, Dr. Hawes and Dr. Ware, who influenced her to major in Spanish.

It wasn’t until she spent her Spring 2013 semester earning 12 credits studying in Seville that she became fully immersed in Spanish culture. "I couldn’t speak any English," she said. "I didn’t know what to eat so I took a Spanish cuisine class there and a Spanish society class to learn about how they live."

Before her trip, she didn’t want to leave home. The day she arrived and moved in with her host family, she knew the semester was going to be amazing. "They took me in like their own," she said. "Family is very important there."

Of the significant cultural differences she learned was the pace of life in Spain. "In America, we’re always working," she said. "We live to work - they work to live."

Efraimson will be certified to teach grades 5 through 12 when she graduates next year and plans to teach Spanish at the high school level.

Going to Spain completely changed her outlook on foreign culture. "I was more closed-minded when I left for Spain," she said. "Coming home I realized there’s so much more out there - so many different kinds of people."

Corey Henderson ‘07

Corey Henderson '07
Corey Henderson '07

Corey Henderson’s passion for the Spanish language was lit when he was 8 years old when he read "Arroz Con Leche," a book of children’s songs and nursery rhymes. He learned them all, and by the time he was in 2nd grade in northern Vermont, he was learning to speak the language in school. After a Spanish teaching internship his senior year of high school, Henderson knew he wanted to continue at that level. "I needed a program that would really impact my teaching," he said. "Keene State College is known for its exemplary teacher prep."

He credits Dr. Barbara Ware for preparing him for his future career. "She was so inspiring and supportive," he said. "She talked about current events; she was always connecting things to the modern world. She shared her professional research, invited us students to dinner at her house and came to every Spanish Club event."

Dr. Ware was especially supportive when he was apprehensive about studying abroad. "I’d never traveled internationally and came from a small town - I was nervous to go," he said. "I’ll never forget what (Dr. Ware) said to me. She said, ‘You’re so ready for this - this is perfect for you.’ I had the best time of my life."

Henderson has taught world languages at Inter-Lakes High School in Meredith, NH, since 2007, the year he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish and Secondary Education from Keene State College. While a student at Keene State, he was awarded the prestigious Blackington Achievement Award for outstanding proficiency in Spanish by Dr. Ware herself.

He is an active member in the New Hampshire Association of World Language Teachers (NHAWLT), the Modern Languages Association (MLA) and the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese (AATSP). In 2011, he published his article entitled, “Once Upon a Time: Using Children’s Literature to Enhance Second Language (L2) Reading Comprehension” in the New Hampshire Journal of Education.

Later that year, he was named “Best of New Hampshire” at the 2011 New Hampshire Association of World Language Teachers State Conference, and then went on to present at the Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Languages Regional Conference in 2012 and lived in Buenos Aires, Argentina during the summer of 2012.

The support from his professor continues. "Dr. Ware is there in the front row when I present at conferences. She always tells me how proud she is of me. She’s so much more than a teacher - she’s my mentor."

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Department of Modern Languages and Cultures
Anne Freisinger Cucchi
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Keene, New Hampshire 03435