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.