Coleen Even

PhD French Studies

Coleen EvenColeen Even’s academic career began in France at l’Université de Nantes. She had never planned to do her PhD but after an exchange at UWaterloo, she applied and was accepted into the program. “I really liked the seminars and the research areas within the department. The faculty members are at the top of their field and there is a lot of opportunity to incorporate digital elements into your work.”

Now on the academic track, Coleen has embraced the teaching opportunities within the Department of French Studies. “If you want to be a professor, they often look at three areas: research, administrative, and teaching,” explains Coleen. She is working to ensure that she has a strong background in all 3 areas. “Seeing the illumination in a student’s eyes when they understand something is truly a magical moment.”

Outside of the classroom, Coleen is the vice-president of student affairs for the Graduate Student Association (GSA). The role has her dealing with all issues non-academic such as housing, funding, and student involvement. “My job is to become aware of student needs and concerns and bring those needs forward.” She sits on a multitude of committees at the university and also was a part of the first graduate student orientation this past fall. “Participating in these different activities on campus has really enhanced the social experience on campus for me. Here, I have found a home.”

She explains that the department fosters that same sense of community. “You share office space, which allows you to work with your colleagues and learn from each other. This research community was a large part of why I wanted to stay here.” Coleen describes the department as being very engaged in the broader research community. “It is a dynamic department with broad areas of expertise and they are reaching out. I love being a part of that.”

Coleen’s thesis will examine the loss of identity of the French community of the Cape Colony from 1687 to the mid-eighteenth century. She will use missionary text, travel narratives, psalms, and music to inform her topic. “I am still defining my thesis but this is a field that needs research. There are studies done in North America and the United Kingdom, but South Africa was lost.”

December 2013 Megan Scarborough

University of Waterloo

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