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Justine Lauren Thomas

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Justine Lauren Thomas

Undergraduate Major in Italian and French

If someone had told me four years ago that I would be graduating with a degree in language and literature, I would have seriously questioned my sanity. I have always loved languages, but as a freshman I had aspirations of majoring in something considered more traditionally useful like International Relations or Communications. However, by my sophomore year, I came to find that my most engaging classes were not my more practical classes, but instead— my small and intimate seminars on Renaissance history and Italian creative writing. By choosing to focus my studies on Italian and French, I found the opportunity to explore different cultures and to pursue a greater understanding of the human experience. I soon discovered that one of the greatest aspects of my major was the relationships that I formed with my professors and the encouragement they gave me to make the most of my time at Stanford.

With their advice in mind, I decided to study abroad in Florence for the first two quarters of my junior year. I can honestly say that choosing to study abroad was one of the important and influential decisions that I have made during my collegiate career. I will never forget the day when I felt that Florence had truly become my second home—I had come to know the small city streets like the back of my hand, could walk through the city center without being immediately identified as an American, and finally felt comfort- able using my Italian outside of a purely academic context. I spent those six amazing months studying, traveling, soaking up all that Italian culture has
to offer, and then returned to Stanford with an entirely new perspective on my American life. My time in Florence only further fueled my desire to immerse myself in my language studies and though my classes are no longer held in the Piazza della Signoria, I still find joy in applying my experiences abroad to my classes on campus.

It was my love for language combined with my interest in technology that helped me find a position at a local social media marketing startup in the client services department. I am hopeful that my appreciation and knowledge of Italian and French cultures will eventually allow me to work with clients on an international scale in the near future.

Of course, none of my Stanford experience would have been possible without the support and love of my family. It is especially thanks to my parents that I feel confident enough to follow my passions and to explore the various opportunities that come my way.