A sampling of alumni from LLC programs and where they are now.

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Aldrete, Diana - PhD 2014, Spanish

Alumna Diana Aldrete is working as a Visiting Assistant Professor of Hispanic Studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. She is currently working on her first manuscript based on her dissertation regarding the feminicides in Mexico and its literary representation.

Dissertation: “El cuerpo femenino ante la violencia en la literatura sobre los feminicidios en Ciudad Juárez.” (2014).

Ali, Farah - PhD 2019, Spanish

Farah Ali earned her Ph.D. in Spanish linguistics in 2019. Her dissertation, Language Attitudes among Muslim Women in Barcelona, examines the intersectionality of gendered and religious identity among Muslim immigrant women, and how these identities are brokered through language use and attitudes in a multilingual context.

Ali joined Gettysburg College in 2018 as Visiting Assistant Professor of Spanish. Her current research projects focus on the role of language in perpetuating social inequality.

Dissertation: “Language Attitudes Among Muslim Women in Barcelona.” (2019).

Almas, Bridget - BA 1991, French and Chinese

Bridget Almas moved to New York City after graduation and became a software programmer. Her language skills were essential to landing her first job in the software industry managing software localization projects. She worked in localization until 1997 on French, German, Spanish, Italian, Chinese and Japanese products. She subsequently held various positions in the field of software development, eventually becoming a programmer in 1999. Around the same time, she also returned to the Albany area with her husband to begin raising a family.

In 2007, she was given a wonderful opportunity to bring her love of languages back into her work as a senior programmer on a software project designed for reading and learning languages. Ms. Almas is a founding board member of the non-profit The Alpheios Project, Ltd. which is developing open-source software tools for language learning. She has worked as an XML Data Architect for the automotive industry and is currently employed as a Senior Software Developer for the Perseus Project at Tufts University. Her current work in digital humanities revolves around the classical languages.

Asked about her time studying at UAlbany, she said " Looking back on my time at LLC, I think what really stands out for me is the breadth of coverage of not only the languages, but also the culture, literature and history. I have particularly fond memories of my French sociology classes with Professor (George) Santoni and Francophone literature with Professor (Eloise) Briere, and of the summer I spent at Taiwan Normal University at the encouragement of my Chinese professors."

Aloush, Abeer - PhD 2013, French

Dr. Aloush specialized in multiculturalism, the theory of integration, immigration and Islamism. Her research explored the different complexities of the post-colonial situation that impact Muslim integration in France. Dr Aloush was selected by the “Banlieue Network” research group at Oxford Brooks University, Oxford, to participate in a 5-day seminar on culture in French suburbs in Paris in July, 2013. She is currently a Lecturer in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Pennsylvania.

She tells us, "I am deeply indebted to the outstanding professors who guided me down the path of knowledge and research. Their care and close attention led me to explore on my own new venues of research. Also, the connections I have made over the years with my professors, colleagues and LLC staff are invaluable and have enriched my life both personally and professionally."

Amegashie, Komla - PhD 2017, French


Amekudji, Anoumou - PhD 2012, French

Dr. Amékudji defended his dissertation, “La problématique du Retour dans les films et romans africains: analyse comparative d’œuvres pré-indépendance et contemporaines”, in May of 2012. He has a special interest in the themes of migrations, exile, identity, political power, distinctions between documentaries and fictional films, adaptations of novels in films, and other forms of cultural expression in Africa like drama, music, and press.

Dr. Amekudji is currently Chair of the French Studies Department at the Université de Kara in Togo.

Amzallag (Barone), Olivia - PhD 2017, French

Olivia Amzallag, PhD, specializes in French Studies with a focus on Applied Linguistics and Pedagogy. Dr. Amzallag is continuously publishing and presenting and is currently Assistant Professor of French at the U of Delaware coordinating/training the TAs and is section supervisor for the 100-level. She was previously working for the Defense Language institute in Monterey CA for 3 years, which was an amazing eye-opening experience! Her dissertation, The Effects of Increasing Object Pronoun Input Frequency on the Oral Comprehension of 3rd Person Object Pronouns among Second Semester Classroom Learners of French, was published in 2017.

Baginski, Maureen - BA 1977, Russian & Spanish, MA 1979 Russian

BA (1977) Russian and Spanish; MA (1979)- Russian Linguistics and LiteratureHonorary PHD (2005)

After graduating from UAlbany, Maureen Baginski went on to work in government and the private sector, including the National Security Agency,(1979-2003) where she held positions as Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) Director, Senior Operations Officer in the National Security Operations Center; Executive Assistant to the Director of NSA/Central Security Service, Chief Officer of the Director; Assistant Deputy Director of Technology and Systems; and lead analyst for the Soviet Union.

Eventually Ms. Baginski headed the FBI's Office of Intelligence and, after retiring, held positions in business and government including National Security Advisor at Serco Inc.,(a provider of professional, technology, and management services to the federal government). She is currently President of National Security Systems at SPARTA.

Bonilla Conejo, Marina - PhD 2022, Spanish

Immediately following completion of her PhD in Spanish Linguistics Dr. Marina Bonilla Conejo started her position as Visiting Assistant Professor of Spanish at Rollins Collins in Orlando, Florida.

Dissertation: "Entre la Ciudad y la Provincia: Variación Sociolingüística en Málaga" (2022).



Bouhet, Élise - PhD 2017, French

Élise Bouhet defended her dissertation "L'espace du jeu dans les émeutes de 2005 en France" in 2017. Specializing in contemporary French society and culture, her research interests include, riots, the banlieue, forms of protest in relation to theater and performance, intertextuality, « la crise/crisis » in French cinema, literature, performance, the media and critical theory. Her most recent article on trash cultures in French cinema was published in French Cultural Studies: After teaching as a language lecturer at New York University for two years, she accepted a position as Visiting Assistant Professor of French and Francophone Studies at Union College, NY.

Boitchenko, Slava - MA 2004, Russian

After graduating from UAlbany, Slava Boitchenko worked mainly as a freelance translator while also interpreting for the New York City courts system and the Attorney General’s office.

He is currently working at Lionbridge Technologies in Massachusetts as a Russian Language Lead. This job involves quality assurance, editing, proofing as well as urgent in-house Russian translation tasks and Slava enjoys working with various CAT and translation memory tools as well as working on projects for major software and industrial companies.

Callahan, John - MA 1991, Russian

John Callahan finished his Masters Degree in Russian in 1991 and is currently teaching Russian at Staten Island Technical High School.

His students have participated in the annual Olympiada of Spoken Russian contests hosted by LLC's Russian Program for several years now. About studying Russian, he says there are many reasons to learn the language. It is impressive on resumes and you stand out when applying for college. He adds "There are a lot of Russian people in Staten Island. Students have told me, ‘I was at work today, and I was able to help someone because I can speak Russian.’ "

Centeno, Yaima - PhD 2015, Spanish

Dr.Centeno is currently working as Senior Linguist - JPMorgan Chase & Co. She has become an active member of the American Translator Association (ATA) and the National Language Services Corps (NLSC) and plans to expand her knowledge and expertise in translation, editing, proofreading and transcribing. Dr. Centeno considers her time at LLC as a professional growing experience.

Dissertation: “A Sociolinquistic Study of the Liquids in the Spanish Spoken in Guantanamo City (Estudio sociolingüístico de las líquidas en el español hablado en la ciudad de Guantánamo)” (2015).

Corbett, Cecily - PhD 2017, Spanish

Cecily Corbett graduated with a PhD in Spanish Linguistics in 2017. Her work and research focus on Spanish sociolinguistics, with a specific interest in Spanish in the United States. Her dissertation  addresses the phenomenon of accommodation—a process by which a speaker adjusts the characteristics of their speech in response to those of the individual he or she is interacting with—during interactions between native and nonnative speakers of Spanish.

She is currently working as Institutional Effectiveness Data Specialist at Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. 

During her graduate studies at the University at Albany, Cecily received the Dissertation Research Fellowship Award (2016-2017) from the Dean of Graduate Education and the Excellence in Teaching by a Spanish TA Award (2015-2016) from the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures.

Dissertation: “Sociophonetic accommodation as a function of interlocutor target language competence: The case of New York Dominican Spanish.” (2017).

Correa, Leonardo - PhD, Spanish

Currently working as Spanish Lecturer at UAlbany, SUNY. 

Dissertation: “Variación y cambio en el español de Bogotá: Análisis de dos variables  sociofonéticas.” (2017).

Devitt, McKew - PhD 2006, Spanish

McKew Devitt started teaching at the University of Vermont while finishing his doctoral dissertation at the University at Albany and is currently a Senior Lecturer there.   He teaches intermediate and advanced Spanish language, an introductory literature course and has also designed two study abroad programs. Every March for the past four years he has led a group of students on a service-learning trip to the Dominican Republic and also led a group on the Camino de Santiago, hiking from León to Santiago de Compostela.

He tells us "The literature classes that I had the pleasure to attend at UAlbany introduced me to a number of authors unknown to me up to then and opened my eyes to the multiple ways of reading various texts.  I continue using the valuable lessons that I learned from the professors there in my own research and in my classrooms.  One of the things I enjoyed the most in my experience was the interactions with the other teaching assistants and the friendships we developed along the way."

Domond, Evens - PhD 2017, French

Congratulations to our new French PhD graduate, Dr. Evens Domond, who successfully defended 11/10/17!  “LA NOTION DE LA TRANSVERSALITÉ DANS L’OEUVRE LITTÉRAIRE D’ÉDOUARD GLISSANT”

El Guennouni, Nabila - PhD 2018, French

Congratulations to our newest French PhD graduate, Dr. Nabila El Guennouni, who successfully defended 4/23/18!

Figueroa, Nicholas James - PhD 2017, Spanish

Dr. Nicholas J. Figueroa is currently working as a Full-time Lecturer of Spanish at Columbia University.  Since graduating Dr. Figueroa has also been a Spanish Lecturer at Princeton University. He also founded the Latinos Urban Book Club focusing on Latino/a authors. In addition, he created and gave several scholarships to middle school students/families who are in academic/financial need in the Bronx, and was one of winners of musical artist Bad Bunny’s Deja Tu Huella contest. His dissertation focused on U.S. Caribbean Heritage Spanish Speakers’ variable pronunciation of liquid consonants in syllable-final position. His research and teaching interests include: Spanish Linguistics with a concentration in Caribbean Phonology and Heritage Studies, Caribbean Dialectology, Contact Linguistics and Bilingualism and Latin American/Caribbean Studies.

Dissertation: “Retention and Change of /?/ in the Speech of U.S. Heritage Spanish Speakers of Puerto Rican and Dominican Descent.” (2018).

Giguere, Undine - PhD 1997, German

Dr. Giguere is a retired lecturer of German at UAlbany and Siena College.

Guadalupe, Gabriel - PhD 2021

Gabriel Guadalupe earned his BA in Spanish and Russian, his MA in Spanish Linguistics, and his PhD in Spanish Linguistics from the University at Albany. His dissertation title was “Dominican Spanish in New York: Language Attitudes and Variation of Final /ɾ/ and /l/.” He also earned his MA in Russian from Middlebury College.

Hart, Heather - BA 2011, French and Anthropology

Ms Hart graduated with a BA in French and Anthropology. While at the university she lived in La Maison Francaise, a Living-Learning community where students use French outside the classroom. Ms. Hart also spent a year studying in Paris.

She says "My French studies at the University at Albany have prepared me for my fast-paced position with the New York City council, which serves a diverse community. I use French every day at work. My knowledge of the French language allows me to communicate with our large francophone constituency on a daily basis." 

Jabaut, Greg - MA 2007, Spanish

After graduating, Greg Jabaut quickly found a job as a Spanish teacher at Brown School in Schenectady, NY.  He says his experience as a teaching assistant and the knowledge and expertise attained in graduate courses helped him a great deal as he began his career as an educator.  "The time I spent as a graduate student in the Department of Languages, Literatures & Cultures has proven to be extremely advantageous both professionally and personally.

Currently, Mr. Jabaut is Associate Director of International Programs at Siena College. He advises students on study abroad offerings in more than 50 countries on six continents, develops new study abroad sites and partnerships and helps to facilitate new international exchange programs.

My time as a student in LLC was truly invaluable; the linguistic, intercultural, writing and speaking skills I cultivated at UAlbany have served me incredibly well in my career. Students who study other languages and cultures, in an environment as collegial and collaborative as LLC, are at a distinct advantage after graduation. They have the interpersonal/intercultural skills that translate into success in almost any field in any corner of the globe!”

Kane, Elizabeth - MA 2009, Russian

Ms Kane came to LLC's Russian Program in January 2008. She graduated with a Master's in Russian Literature and writes that she "had a great time studying her passion, 19th century poetry, while working with the wonderful faculty" (Professors Baran, Hoogenboom, Rougle and Sergay).  While studying in LLC she was challenged to expand her understanding of theory and her ability to write and analyze scholarly writings, all the while becoming very well versed in 19th and 20th c. Russian literature. 

After graduating from U Albany Ms. Kane participated in the highly competitive Critical Language Scholarship program, fully funded by the Department of State, (Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs) which allowed her to spend two months in Tomsk, Siberia. She also received government funding to study in Moscow from June-August 2011.

Ms. Kane currently lives in Moscow with her husband, Pasha Kulikov, where she tutors children and translates from Russian to English on a freelance basis. She worked at a school in Moscow for 2 years before branching off on her own.

Kassel (Scipione), Ruth - MA 2003, PhD 2012, Spanish

Ruth (Scipione) Kassel is employed as Assistant Director of the Office of Academic Community Engagement and Academic Service Learning at Siena College.

As part of her position, Dr. Kassel works with faculty to develop courses, coordinate internships, run trips to Bolivia and other developing countries and develop curriculum as well as teach.

She tells us, " There are two aspects of my education at LLC that helped me get to where I am. First, I taught my own classes very early on. This helped me to develop as a teacher and take leadership roles. Second, I was able to explore the type of research I was most interested in, which led me to a somewhat interdisciplinary dissertation topic. My dissertation topic and teaching/curriculum design were the deciding factors in my being hired in my current position."

Keegan, Karen - PhD 2014, French

Dr. Keegan defended her dissertation, “From Pamphlet to Melodrama: The Resacralization of the Queen in Dumas’ Marie Antoinette Romances”, on November 20,, 2014. She is currently a lecturer in French at UAlbany.

Kellett, Cate (Catherine) - MA 2007, Spanish

After graduation, Ms. Kellett taught Spanish at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, while earning a JD and MA in Library and Information Science. She now works at Yale Law School as a Catalog and Government Documents Librarian, where she catalogs foreign language materials, assists patrons at the reference desk, and teaches introductory legal research sessions.

Ms. Kellett was the guest speaker at the LLC Commencement ceremony in May of 2014.

She tells us, “I’m grateful for the skills I learned as a student in LLC. The two years I spent as a TA there helped me earn an assistantship to teach Spanish while I was in law school and library school. My current position requires knowledge of at least one European language, so I use my language skills every day at work.”

Krause, Alice - PhD 2013, Spanish

Alice Krause is Assistant Professor of Spanish at SUNY Delhi where she teaches courses on Spanish language and US Latino Studies. Her current teaching and research interests are instructed second language acquisition and technology applications in second language pedagogy.

Dissertation: “Optimal Diphthongs: An Optimality Theoretic Account of the Acquisition of Spanish Diphthongs.” (2013). 

LaBoda, Ashley - PhD 2015, Spanish

Ashley LaBoda earned her Ph.D. in Spanish linguistics in 2015. Her scholarship focuses on bilingualism and language contact among Afro-Costa Ricans in Limón, Costa Rica. Ashley's most recent work analyzes Spanish borrowings and code-switches in naturalistic Limonese Creole speech, and also considers speaker attitudes toward language use. Other research interests include language acquisition, language documentation, dialects of Afro-Central America, and language variation and change. She is currently working as Assistant Professor of Spanish at George Washington University. Washington, DC. 

Dissertation: “A variationist approach to code-switching and lexical borrowing: The case of LimoneseSpanish bilinguals in Puerto Limon, Costa Rica.” (2015). 

Lansing, Elizabeth - MA 1999, PhD 2001, Spanish

Following her graduation in December 2001, Dr. Lansing took a break from the academic world and worked at the New York State Office of Children and Family Services though a contract with the SUNY Research Foundation as a Project Staff Assistant.  In 2005, a position opened up at the University at Albany that she accepted and she has been here ever since. 

She has taught two courses per semester and supervises the Spanish Teaching Assistants, a job that she finds quite challenging but extremely rewarding.   “My graduate work has opened many doors for me.  Even though this job can have difficult days, working here continually inspires me to do better, to keep learning, to keep improving.  I feel very lucky to have worked with so many great faculty, staff and students.”

In 2010 Dr. Lansing was hired as a Lecturer and Supervisor of Undergraduate Studies for Spanish in the Languages, Literatures and Cultures Department here at UAlbany.

Lavender, Jordan - PhD 2017, Spanish

Currently working as Spanish teacher at Pomfret School, CT.

Dissertation: “Code Switching, Lexical Borrowing, and Polylanguaging in Valencian Spanish: An Analysis of Data from Conversational Corpora and Twitter” (2017). 

Martin, Véronique - PhD 2013, French

Dr. Martin is currently a Lecturer with the University in High School program and the Languages, Literatures and Cultures Department at UAlbany.

McCarron, Melissa - BA 2002, PhD 2012, Spanish

Dr. McCarron has presented her work at numerous conferences and has traveled extensively to Spain to pursue research, study Catalan and work with other scholars.
About her studies at UAlbany she says "I am very grateful to the faculty, students and staff in the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures. LLC is a wonderfully supportive place to learn and work."

Meredith, William - BA 2008, History and French

Having thoroughly enjoyed his years as an undergraduate at UAlbany, William Meredith decided to stay at the university and pursue graduate studies.  After completing both MA degrees he began teaching French courses at SUNY Delhi.  As an instructor of French, Mr. Meredith appreciates the opportunity to share his knowledge of and passion for French language, culture, and history that he developed as a French major at UAlbany.

Studying French not only helped him develop the skills necessary for his current career but also with his graduate studies.  Now pursuing a Master’s degree in History and a PhD in Educational Administration and Policy Studies at UAlbany, he found that his French literature courses provided him with his first real experience in dissecting texts and truly understanding the many factors that influenced the texts.  Additionally, the many conversations and presentations he experienced while a student in the department allowed him to gain a better concept of public speaking, whether in English or in French.

Reflecting on his French studies, Mr. Meredith writes, “The French department’s focus on the francophone world opened my eyes to many political, social, cultural, and economic insights that I have used in conversations, classroom instruction, academic research, and everyday life.  As a young student from a rural area, the French department opened my eyes to many new ideas and concepts that helped me to develop both as a student and as a person.   As a long-time student at UAlbany, I take great pride in my alma mater, but I take even greater pride in the French department and its outstanding faculty and staff who fostered and developed my skills both as a student and as a citizen." 

Morales-Diaz, Enrique - MA 1998, PhD 2002, Spanish

While Dr. Morales-Díaz was working on the completion of his dissertation he started working as a teaching fellow at Hartwick College. He completed his PhD in Spanish at UAlbany in 2002 and in 2007 was tenured and eventually became an Associate Professor at Hartwick. He taught Spanish classes at all levels including culture, film and literature as well as courses during the January term in Spain and Puerto Rico.  He also taught courses for the Political Science, English, and Sociology departments, served as the coordinator for the minor in Women’s & Gender Studies, and the minor in U.S. Ethnic Studies.

In fall 2008 he took a position at Westfield State College (now Westfield State University) to teach in the Department of World Languages, Multicultural and Gender Studies and in 2010-2011 he was tenured again and promoted to Professor of Spanish, Ethnic & Gender Studies and became Chair of Liberal Studies. 

Dr. Morales-Díaz is currently Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs at SUNY Oneonta.

Dr. Morales-Díaz has published a book titled Reinaldo Arenas, Caliban and Postcolonial Discourse (Cambria Press, 2009) based on his dissertation and continues to present at conferences, most recently at the Puerto Rican Studies Association in October 2012, which was held at UAlbany. 

About his years at UAlbany and his experience in LLC he says. “My experience in LLC was a positive one.  It was a period in my life in which I felt the importance of the education I was receiving and what impact it would have in my future career plans.  To say that sometimes I refer back to things I learned in the classes I took when I am teaching and use them says it all.”

Mumin, Zahir - PhD 2017, Spanish

Currently working as Spanish teacher at Louisville-Jefferson County SD, KY.

Dissertation: “A study of sociolinguistic variation in a small community: Puerto Rican Spanish in Amsterdam, New York.” (2017). 

Olarte, Alejandra - PhD 2014, Spanish

Currently working as Assistant Professor at La Salle University, Bogotá, Colombia. 

Dissertation: “El wavering imaginativo y la conciencia imaginante en los cuentos de Marvel Moreno y Angela Carter” (2014).

Oliveri, Jonathan - PhD 2020, Spanish

Jonathan Oliveri earned his Ph.D. in Hispanic literature in May 2020. His dissertation, Lost in Violence—Forging Memories from Legacies of Neglect in Spanish and Peruvian Contemporary Novels, constitutes an examination and approximation of neglected violent pasts through an analysis of a selection of contemporary Spanish and Peruvian novels. The writing of memory, the main theme throughout this dissertation, is powered by legacies of neglect. The contemporary novels underscore the theme of neglect or absence and the inclination to fill that void by building an archive of silenced voices in literature.
Future research projects of his include the reworking of his fifth chapter of his dissertation “Yuyaynipas tapawan – My Memories Suffocate Me : Biopolitics and Silenced Voices in Peruvian Narratives”. The purpose of this revisit to this chapter is to focus more so on the silenced indigenous women during the Sasachakuy tiempo (which means difficult time in Quechua—referring to the mass violence from 1980-2000). Another future project of his will be to examine other contemporary Spanish novels that focus on los quinquis—juvenile delinquents that didn’t fit the idealistic image of Spain’s transition to democracy. This research will compare and contrast the literary works to its cinematic predecessor, el cine quinqui.
Jonathan currently works as an advanced HS Spanish teacher on Long Island with ambitions to teach at the college level and conduct research.

Ollendyke, Megan - MA 2010, French

Ms Ollendyke is currently Editorial Assistant for the Air & Space Power Journal – Africa & Francophonie edition.

She says "I highly value my liberal arts degree as it has given me a diverse education, an eagerness to learn new things and the desire to explore new places."

Ramirez, Dora - PhD 2007, Spanish

Dora Ramírez was working as a Visiting Assistant Professor at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs when she got her PhD degree. She later joined the Department of Modern Languages and Classics at Siena College where she worked for five years. In 2016 Dr. Ramírez was appointed as a Spanish lecturer and University in the High School Spanish Liaison at the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures here at UAlbany. 

Ramirez, Sara - BA 2007, French

After graduation, Sara Ramirez moved back to Long Island and began working at Nespresso USA, a division of Nestlé specializing in gourmet coffee.  As a coffee specialist and later events coordinator, Sara applied her knowledge of French and Spanish to working with clients in the US and abroad.

In January 2009, she returned to Albany to pursue a master’s degree in communication sciences and disorders with a focus on speech-language pathology; acceptance into the competitive program was influenced by her educational development in linguistics and French studies.  Sara is working toward a bilingual extension to the master’s degree, as well as a teaching certification for the state of New York.  She plans to pursue bilingual certification in French so that she may further extend speech and language services to francophone communities.

Reyes, Betsaida - BA 2010, MA 2011, Spanish

Ms. Reyes is currently Assistant Librarian for Spanish, Portuguese, Latin American and Caribbean Studies at the University of Kansas. She teaches information literacy classes in related subjects, creates library guides and assists faculty and students with their research.

Reyes, Juanita - PhD 2020, Spanish

“Juanita Reyes earned her PhD in August 2020. Her research interests include Sociolinguistics, Contact linguistics, Language Variation and Change, Dominican Spanish, and Spanish as a Heritage Language. She has several publications and conference presentations on Dominican Spanish and Spanish in the US. She has accepted a position as Assistant Professor of Spanish at Dominican College in Rockland County, New York.”

Ringer-Hilfinger, Kathryn - PhD 2013, Spanish

While at UAlbany, Dr. Ringer-Hilfinger received the Dissertation Research Fellowship Award for 2010-2011 and attended the prestigious 2nd International Sociolinguistic Summer School in Copenhagen (June 2010).

Dr. Ringer-Hilfinger graduated with a PhD in Spanish Linguistics. Her research involves the intersection of two fields: sociolinguistics and second language acquisition. Her dissertation, “The Acquisition of sociolinguistic variation by study abroad students: The case of American students in Madrid” explores how study abroad learners acquire regional dialect forms. She values the close-knit community of scholars in the LLC Department at UAlbany. “I am very grateful for this support and look forward to staying connected with my fellow classmates and colleagues.”

Dr. Ringer-Hilfinger is currently a Visiting Assistant Professor at Williams College.

Robles, Arnaldo - PhD 2016, Spanish

Currently working as Visiting Assistant Professor of Spanish at University of Illinois Springfield, IL.

Dissertation: “Examining the Role of Corrective Feedback on Learners’ Modified Output of the Spanish Past Tense in Face-To-Face and Telecollaboration Contexts.” (2016). 

Runyon, Rochelle - BA , MA (1990), Russian

Rochelle Runyon and her husband were US Army Russian linguists, and wanted to continue with the Russian language after their tour of duty in Germany. He chose Political Science as his major at the Rockefeller College, focusing on International Relations, specifically Soviet/Russian studies, minoring in Russian, a combination unique to SUNY Albany.

Ms. Runyon tells us, “My dream, since a Russian immigrant sat next to me in high school homeroom, was to learn Russian. Financially, I thought there was no hope for a college education, but military benefits, NYS grants and SUNYA’s reasonable tuition made it possible. I majored in Russian and minored in Russian and East European Studies. This was rounded out with independent study in Hebrew, continuing 10 years of study which began in second grade, and a Spanish conversation class to refresh three years of high school Spanish. Not only did SUNY Albany have everything we sought, it was the ONLY institution that did!“

Ms. Runyon enrolled in the combined BA/MA program in Russian, and because she had completed half of the graduate Russian coursework as an undergraduate, she was able to take courses in the Certificate of Advanced Study program in Russian translation.

Shortly before her graduation, Ms. Runyon interviewed at the National Security Agency in Maryland. She was hired into a position created exclusively for her. No one else was hired that year, and only one person had been hired in the previous two years. She say, “ When I met my supervisor, she was holding my SUNY Albany transcripts. She said they were impressed with the variety of languages from distinct language families. (I had also taken German in the Army.) It was also noted that I was on an accelerated path, taking challenging coursework. I thank SUNY Albany for making that available to me via the BA/MA program, advanced study, and by entrusting me with the graduate assistantship. “

Ms. Runyon worked full time at NSA for four years, translating documents and writing reports for federal agencies, then was able to reduce her position to half time when she had two more children. She adds, “Two years later I resigned, closing out the position code with me. That’s right - the National Security Agency created and discontinued a position for a SUNY Albany graduate from the language department!”

She attended Russian immersion training in Saint Petersburg and Moscow, Russia, as well as refresher courses at Brigham Young University, UT, at NSA, and at an Army school in Massachusetts and continued to work at NSA as an Army Reserve Russian linguist until retiring in 2002.

Ms. Runyon currently home schools one of her children and takes classes in Yiddish with another. Two of her daughters, one who is a high school senior this year, want to major in Judaic Studies/Hebrew at SUNYA, minor in Russian, and take course work in their other languages. She tells LLC, “We are hoping that this course path will be available to them, the next generation.”

Schaefer, Mark - BA 1990, MA 1991, Russian

After graduating from Albany in May of 1991, Mr. Schaefer entered into studies at the George Washington University Law School. Graduating from GW in 1994, he practiced law in the District of Columbia for five years. Mr. Schaefer practiced with a a few law firms, one of which specialized in immigration law, particularly for clients from the countries of the former Soviet Union. "My Russian degree was extremely valuable in that work. Being able to translate documents, communicate with clients, and help them feel that they were understood was extremely important."

In 1999, Mr. Schaefer entered divinity studies at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington. Following graduation in 2002, he was appointed as the United Methodist campus minister at American University in D.C. "I am surprised at how much I get to use my Russian degree in this work. I have had a number of students who have been studying Russian and I've been able to tutor them. Russian isn't always the easiest subject, and so being able to help students has been yet another way I can help them to let go of some anxiety. I've also had occasion to do a bilingual Russian-English wedding for a couple at the University and to translate the Russian language poetry of a colleague's great-grandfather. My Russian language skills that I developed at SUNYA have helped me out in every professional endeavor I've had. They've helped me to be a more effective pastor."

Since the fall of 2006, he has also been an adjunct professor at American University in the Religion and Philosophy department, teaching courses in Western Religion and New Testament.

Schatoff, Eugenia - MA 2007, Russian

Eugenia Schatoff graduated with an MA in Russian and MS in Information Studies in 2007.   After graduation she worked as a freelance interpreter and translator of Russian as well as an Academic advisor at Excelsior College and worked as the Director of the Watervliet Library. She is certified as a teacher of Russian and School Library Media Specialist.

Ms. Schatoff is currently Director of the West Nyack Free Library.

She writes, "Pursuing my masters in Russian not only enabled me to study a subject about which I was passionate, it gave me the focus and security I needed to explore other fields and decide on my professional path. The Russian graduate program provided a global perspective that has benefited me professionally and personally and was directly responsible for my successes in the workforce. I am very grateful for the wonderful, personalized attention I received, and the small classes and regular conferences with my advisors gave me a small school feeling at a large university. I would not be where I am today were it not for my degree from LLC's Russian Program."

Schmidt, April - PhD 2012, Spanish

April Schmidt completed her doctorate in Spanish, with a concentration in Latin American literature, in the Spring of 2012. Her dissertation, entitled Everything and Nothing: The Poetry of Hanni Ossott, analyzes the trajectory and central themes in the first six books of poetry by this significant but little-studied contemporary Venezuelan poet. Other areas of special interest include modernism, magic realism, Latin American and Peninsular poetry, Siglo de Oro theatre, intersections between literature and the other arts, and literary translation.

Of her time at the University at Albany, she says: “I am very grateful to all the wonderful people at UAlbany who made my time here both productive and pleasant.”

Dr. Schmidt is currently employed as a Lecturer at Keene State College in New Hampshire.

Sciarra Laos, Emilia - PhD 2014, Spanish

Currently working as Spanish Language and Cross-Cultural Training Instructor, CORE, Orlando FL. 

Dissertation: “Experimental Poetry in four authors: Tablada, de Campos, Padin and Brossa” (2014). 

Serio, Joe - BA 1986, Russian

After graduating with a double-major BA in Russian and Political Science from UAlbany, Dr. Serio pursued the Masters in Criminal Justice at the University of Illinois, where he accepted a year-long internship in the Organized Crime Control Department of the Soviet Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD) (1990-91).

Later he worked as an independent consultant in Moscow (1993-1995) and as a consultant to the global corporate investigation and business intelligence firm, New York-based Kroll Associates (1995-1997).  He was subsequently appointed Director of Kroll’s Moscow office, overseeing investigations across the former USSR.  He helped U.S. and European companies avoid the pitfalls of operating in Russia and when they got into trouble, his job was to coordinate solutions.  He also assisted the U.S. Embassy in Moscow in understanding more about the Russian "mafia.”

Dr. Serio earned a PhD in Criminal Justice (Sam Houston State University-TX), writing his dissertation on law enforcement perceptions of the Russian mafia in the U.S. and Canada.  His interest in this topic flowed directly from his time studying Russian in Albany.  In his words, “Quite simply, studying Russian at Albany did nothing less than change my life.  I stumbled accidentally onto the major in Slavic Languages and Literature, and, once hooked, learning about Russia consumed most of my attention." 

"Over the past 25 years, my course of study at Albany has impacted every aspect of my life, personal and professional. Everything in my life since 1986 has been possible because of that one fateful decision.  It has provided a very fulfilling life for me personally. ..”

Dr. Serio has published Investigating the Russian Mafia (Carolina Academic Press 2008), given lectures at universities and police agencies, and is currently in discussions with Hollywood about a feature film depicting his activities investigating the Russian mafia in the 1990s.

Shand, Robert - BA 2005, Spanish

Mr. Shand graduated in May 2005 with a dual major in Spanish language and U.S. History (and a 4.0 GPA in Spanish, with very close to a 4.0 overall). He pursued a career as a Social Studies teacher, first at a middle school in the Bronx through Teach for America, and then at a Transitional Bilingual High School for recent Latino immigrants in Manhattan. He says his classes in Spanish "deepened my knowledge of and appreciation for language in general, and the field of linguistics in particular, and have informed my work as a teacher of English-language Learners since".

After 5 years of teaching, Mr. Shand is now pursuing an interdisciplinary doctoral degree in Economics and Education at Columbia University, through Teachers College. He would like to work in research on educational policy, particularly as it affects immigrants and other working-class students in urban areas, in relation to the most effective educational interventions, the "best" post-secondary options,and the employment opportunities and civic engagement of students after graduation.

Sherrow, Thomas - BA 2008, French; MA 2009, Secondary Education

Mr. Sherrow graduated with a BA in French and minor in Spanish in 2008, going on to earn a MS in Secondary Education from UAlbany in 2009. He participated in the university's study abroad program in the Dominican Republic and spent a summer in Quebec at the Université Laval thanks to a scholarship from the SPFFA (Société des Professeurs Français et Francophones d' Amérique). Following graduation, he moved to Maryland where he is currently teaching French and Spanish in a middle school in the Howard County Public Schools.

In reflecting on his time at UAlbany, Tom says, “I think the variety of courses offered gave me a well-rounded education. The familiarity between faculty and students helped create a sense of community. I was fortunate enough to take courses in multiple languages at UAlbany and take advantage of study abroad programs. These opportunities gave me real-world cultural experiences that I can now share with my students.”

Stelling, Louis - BA 2000, MA 2003, PhD 2008, French

Lou Stelling spent two summer sessions at Laval University in Quebec and a year abroad in Grenoble France, teaching English at the Université Stendhal. During his doctoral studies, Lou worked closely with French Studies Professor Cynthia Fox assisting her with research on the Franco-American Project, one of only two sites nationally that received an NSF grant for this project.

Currently, he teaches French in the Department of Modern Languages, Interdisciplinary Studies, and Philosophy at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, as well as here in the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures at the University at Albany.

Stokes, Craig - PhD 2011, Spanish

Craig Stokes has been at Dutchess Community College in Poughkeepsie, NY since 2002 and is currently an Associate Professor of Spanish, where he continues to teach basic, intermediate, and some advanced courses. His current projects at DCC include converting his face-to-face intermediate Spanish course to a fully online course and developing a basic Portuguese sequence online. His recent interest in online instruction has been fueled by the desire to see languages taught properly online by qualified and dedicated professors. He felt the only way to insure this was to take on the project himself.

During his PhD studies at UAlbany, Mr. Stokes developed a strong passion for the interaction between languages, Spanish and Catalan in particular, and his research in Spanish-Catalan contact continues as he investigates further certain aspects of his dissertation.

Of his time in the LLC Spanish program, he says
"I am eternally indebted to the outstanding professors who guided me down the path of research and exploration and then set me free to discover new roads on my own."

Thomas, Juan A. - MA 2004, PhD 2006, Spanish

After having worked ten years in the Analytical Chemistry/Environmental Analysis Laboratory of a major U.S. company, Dr. Thomas decided to pursue a different career in the field of linguistics. While it might seem a radical shift, he had been interested in languages since childhood and he had seen how linguistics was treated scientifically during his last semester at M.I.T.

Dr. Thomas is Associate Professor of Spanish at Utica College, where he is pursuing his research interests in language contact, focusing on several different language pairs: Neapolitan-Spanish; Galician-Spanish; Andalusian Arabic- Medieval Iberian Romance and Spanish-English.  He is currently working on a linguistic description of the Spanish spoken in Utica and hopes to extend the project to other languages spoken in ths small, multiethnic city, such as Italian and Arabic.

Dr. Thomas thanks his professors at UAlbany, the staff and his fellow students for supporting his decision, never doubting its sensibility, and proving to him from the very first semester at UAlbany that linguistics is just as much a scientific discipline as chemistry.    

Thomas, Robert I. - MA 1983, Russian

Robert Thomas finished his coursework for the Russian MA in the spring of 1981, attended Moscow State University in the fall of that year, and received his degree in 1983.

He earned an MBA at Northwestern, then joined First Chicago bank in 1985.  A few years later he joined a new group in the bank serving the then Perestroika USSR, and was involved in setting up joint ventures in Moscow with large corporations.

After working in Singapore with Case New Holland he was transferred to become CEO of Uzbekistan’s first equipment leasing joint venture, and lived in Tashkent from 1999 until 2001, just after 9/11.  Mr. Thomas tells us, "The air became pretty tense after that and my family and I were transferred out." 

Of his time in Uzbekistan, he says, " As a former Soviet republic, most Uzbeks in the business or government sector still spoke a lot of Russian—but not fantastic Russian.  Thus, my already rusty language skills seemed to work just fine there.  It was always my dream to live and work in the USSR, and while Uzbekistan was an independent country while I was there,...everything looked, functioned and smelled just like the USSR I remembered in 1982! ... We had a delightful time living there, shopping in the bazaars, etc.  ... I was proud to see that my SUNY education provided me the background I needed to work quite comfortably in Uzbekistan."

Mr. Thomas spent the first part of his his career living in Asia and Latin America, but says "I’m now a happy corporate drop-out, and own my own home health agency in Fort Myers FL." He added that he would love to hear from his old classmates. His email : [email protected]

Walker Miccio, Karina - PhD 2017, Spanish

Currently working as Assistant Professor at Hartwick College, NY.

Dissertation: “Baroque Bodies in Post-Franco Era Literature by Spanish Women Writers from 1980-2011” (2017).

Youngs, Bonnie - BA 1984, MA 1986, French

After completing a BA and MA in French at UAlbany, Bonnie Youngs went on to finish a second MA and her PhD in French Literature and Linguistics at the University of Pennysylvania, writing her dissertation on computer-assisted language learning. Dr. Youngs credits LLC Professor Eloise Brière with inspiring her through tremendous support and guidance in her early studies.

Currently a Full Teaching Professor of French and Francophone Studies (FFS) in the Department of Modern Languages at Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh), Dr. Youngs has taught all levels of the French curriculum there. She works as the coordinator of her language group, and in the past year, has taken on the responsibilities of teaching courses in the new MA program in Applied Second Language Acquisition, as she puts it, “growing new language teachers”. She credits her teaching models from UAlbany and later UPenn for her desire to teach at the post-secondary level, and for being able to do the job well. Dr. Youngs was recently awarded the 2012 Elliot Dunlap Smith for Distinguished Teaching and Educational Service by the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Carnegie Mellon.

Professionally, Dr. Youngs modifies and assesses the learning outcomes and articulation of the FFS courses, does research and writes on teacher training and second language acquisition as they relate to teaching language courses online, on computer-mediated communication projects between her students and students in France and England, and has worked for state, regional and national teacher organizations.

She and her husband Tom have raised their two children in Pittsburgh.