The Robert Johnson Award for outstanding achievement in French and Francophone Studies by an undergraduate major has been awarded this year to Senior Veronika Jaster. Veronika also won this year's Class of 1976 Scholarship, which provides support to a University of Massachusetts Amherst Bachelor's degree candidate who intends to continue his/her education as a Master's degree candidate in the College of Humanities and Fine Arts. Veronika will be enrolling in the French MAT program in the fall of 2023, and her success in winning the Class of 1976 Scholarship builds on the strong tradition of previous recent winners from French and Francophone Studies: Ryan Coburn (BA, 2013; MA, 2017), Will Hastie (BA, 2015; MAT, 2018), and Carly Dow (BA, 2021; MA 2024).
Veronika’s decision to pursue a major in French and Francophone Studies at UMass Amherst was inspired by the passion for French language and culture that she developed when, as a junior in high school, she spent the year studying at a French lycée in Nîmes, France. While in Nîmes, Veronika also began learning Spanish, which quickly became another passion as well as her secondary major, along with a concentration in Linguistics. She has enjoyed tutoring both languages and offering general academic support to undergraduates as a Peer Tutor at the Learning Resource Center for the past three years.The rewarding challenges, training, and professional growth afforded to her by this experience have all contributed to Veronika’s decision to pursue her studies and pedagogical training in the French MAT program at UMass Amherst. Veronika welcomes the opportunity to express her gratitude to the French and Francophone Studies program and to the LRC as she continues her journey towards becoming a teacher and mentor who will inspire students to examine the beauty of language, take ownership of their learning, challenge themselves, and pursue their aspirations. Likewise, Veronika is thankful for the opportunities of the greater UMass community, especially for the chance to have pursued her interests at the Newman Catholic Center, the Sailing Team, and the Polish Club. Veronika is delighted to remain in the department and spread the love of French to many more students!