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Senior makes the most of her second language

Amelia Simonson can still remember her reaction to participating in the French Table as a freshman.

“I was a little intimidated to go,” she said of the gathering that allows students to converse in French over a meal. “The upperclassmen all spoke French so well. But I wouldn’t have improved if I hadn’t continued to speak. Having that as a resource was really helpful.”

Simonson has done more than master her French speaking skills over the past four years. Whether it’s serving as a teaching assistant to Romance Languages and Literatures Visiting Associate Professor Dora Polachek, teaching the language to children during summers or studying abroad as a Rosefsky Scholar, Simonson has demonstrated the power of foreign language.

“Studying language is so important because you can make connections with people,” said Simonson, a 21-year-old senior from Clifton Park who is a double major in French and political science. “Having those skills just makes you a better candidate for the global economy.”

Simonson came to Binghamton knowing she wanted to continue learning French. She traveled to Paris in the springs of 2004 and 2006 as part of a high-school exchange program. The trips laid the foundation for her educational pursuits.

“As more and more students have those kinds of experiences, they become more globally aware and they can help facilitate relationships abroad,” she said.

Simonson intends to keep making a difference after Commencement. She will attend the University at Albany for her master’s in French and hopes to teach the language to high-school students or young children.

“She embodies everything that (Binghamton) is so proud of in its students: she brings enthusiasm and intelligence to everything she undertakes,” Polachek said. “As a double major, Amelia has taken on a rigorous workload, but has managed to incorporate significant extracurricular activities into her busy schedule.”

Simonson is co-president of the University’s chapter of the Phi Sigma Iota foreign language honor society and recently received one of its five national scholarships. She has been active in Hinman College Council and the College Democrats and worked as an intern for Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s congressional campaign in 2006. Simonson’s hobbies include running: She plans to run a 15K race in July and is optimistic about taking part in a half-marathon.

As she prepares to bid adieu to Binghamton this month, Simonson said she is pleased with what she has gained at the University.

“It hasn’t hit me yet that I’m graduating and it probably won’t until I have the cap and gown on,” she said. “I’m definitely going to miss it here. I’ve had wonderful professors and wonderful classes. I’ve met a lot of different people. I’m happy I chose Binghamton.”

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Last Updated: 10/14/08