URI student wins trifecta of awards

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KINGSTON, R.I. –May 9, 2008–Marjorie Johnson of Wakefield grew up hearing snatches of French because her parents and her sister spoke it. But the University of Rhode Island sophomore didn’t begin studying the language until she enrolled at URI.

During her junior year, the URI student will be hearing a lot more si vous plaits and bonjours, and eating a lot more croissants. That’s because she’ll study at the University of Laval, Quebec in the fall and at the University of Paris at Nanterre, a half-hour outside of the City of Lights next spring.

Her studies are funded, in part, by two prestigious scholarships: she won the national $1,000 Phi Kappa Phi scholarship for study abroad (out of 349 other applicants) and received another $1,000 scholarship for French majors studying abroad from the French Embassy.

“I chose to study French because I love the language and culture, and I know that being able to speak a foreign language will open doors for me in many different professional fields,” she says. “Immersing myself in the language abroad is the best way to learn it thoroughly.”

The 20-year-old not only speaks French, she also writes poetry. She began writing poetry and running a literary journal while attending South Kingstown High School.

This spring she received the New Leaves Press poetry prize for her poem As the Stars in the campus-wide poetry competition.

As the Stars

Tonight I am cartwheel and grass,

song, spirit, word without puzzle.

I am turned on my head, feeling life in my blood.

I stopped myself for a minute in an eternal look at the night.

My thoughts stopped spinning;

my heart started beating in time with my breath.

I am as the stars.

I choose challenge, choose peace, and choose love.

Slash the borders, break the boxes, fly over the paths that, a moment ago,

I desperately clung to.

Johnson’s future career possibilities include becoming a publisher because she enjoys reading and editing and would like having an insider’s perspective on the world of literature or a teacher at an international school because she likes working with children from diverse backgrounds. Both jobs would give her the potential opportunity to use French on a regular basis.

Johnson isn’t the only family member at URI. Her father, Galen Johnson, is a longtime, well-respected philosophy professor and current director of the University’s Center for Humanities.

URI Department of Communications & Marketing photo by Michael Salerno Photography.