Meet Elise

After graduating with a BA in Italian, Elise Roberts moved to Syracuse to pursue a doctorate in Political Science at Syracuse University. 

Elise Roberts, Kigali, Rwanda.

Elise (right) and fellow student in Kigali, Rwanda

"Love of classical music and a convenient gap in my schedule pushed me to enroll in ITA 100 my freshman year. When I decided to continue with Italian and French it was for the fun of it: I was optimistic that I could use my foreign language skills to study abroad, but resigned to the fact that my Italian would be used for little more than translating Andrea Bocelli post-graduation.

In reality, my foreign language skills have helped me accomplish far more than tracking down the best gelateria in Florence—they have opened the door to countless opportunities in both my personal and professional lives. As an undergraduate, I used my language skills while traveling to conferences with the Model European Union. Studying in Rwanda the summer before my senior year, I was able to use my French skills to connect with local citizens and volunteer with an NGO in the capital city. Before starting graduate school, I spent a semester living in Milan, Italy, working as an English teaching assistant in a high school in the city.

Now, as a doctoral candidate in the political science department at Syracuse University, I often rely on my knowledge of French and Italian for research. Studying post-conflict reconstruction in central Africa, my knowledge of French has allowed me to gain a deeper understanding of the cultural context of my region of focus, as well as given me access to local sources of information. Knowing Italian and French has allowed me to conduct field research as well: working as a research assistant for the Moynihan Center’s “Global Black Spots” project, I traveled to France and Italy to explore potential nodes of transnational criminal networks and mafia activity. More importantly, learning French and Italian allowed me to connect with people around the world, creating friendships that continue to this day." – Elise Roberts

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