Meet Suzanne

Suzanne Toczyski earned a BA in French from UB and is now a Professor of French at Sonoma State University.

Suzanne Toczyski.

"In 1985, during my junior year at UB, my fiancé (now husband) encouraged me to apply to graduate school, at which point I had to choose between my two loves, math and French. I knew I wanted to teach, and Dr. Ludwig – a most excellent advisor – sat down with me during my first year to map out a plan for completing a double major with a teacher ed minor in four years. Pondering my future choices, I thought of the inspiring teachers I had had at UB: Dr. Benay, who gave me a true love for seventeenth-century theater (which became the subject of my dissertation), Dr. Ludwig, who helped me to appreciate language in its most fundamental elements, Dr. Simon, whose conversations about modern theater were fascinating – and the choice was relatively easy. (Study abroad in Grenoble was also a huge plus!) 

I earned my PhD in French in 1994, taught briefly at the University of Washington and Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma while my husband was doing his post-doc, and then accepted a position at Sonoma State University, where I have now taught for almost twenty years. I hope my students leave SSU with fond memories of their work with the faculty here, and a real passion for French language and francophone literature and culture. I’m also happy to note that some of my own students have gone on to MA and PhD programs in French (at Johns Hopkins, UC-Davis, UC-Berkeley, San Francisco State, etc.), so the baton is being passed on. I’m very grateful to UB for a solid grounding in French!" – Suzanne Toczyski

Meet More Students

  • Dijana Savija
    2/6/19
    Over Winter Break 2019 Dijana served as volunteer translator with a UB Law School team at the US-Mexican border in Dilley, Texas. She writes: "I learned a lot about the immigration laws of our country, and a whole lot about the lives of Honduran, Salvadoran, and Guatemalan women and children. The whole experience was challenging but absolutely worthwhile. Being able to help some of those women and children that are seeking peace in our country was an opportunity for me to create a stronger and better world."
  • Mame Salim
    12/24/18
    "Overall, I'm grateful to have participated in this program. Although it was stressful at times, I enjoyed every minute of it. I would definitely recommend this program to anyone who loves working with kids from different cultures/backgrounds and anyone who wants to learn more about the day-to-day life of Italians."
  • Paige Melin
    1/29/19
    In the fall of 2018 Paige applied for a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Senegal and the Teaching Assistant Program in France. After teaching abroad, Paige plans to get her Ph.D. in Translation Theory to teach & translate francophone literature not traditionally represented in the Western canon. She says, “I am so grateful for the supportive community I found in the Romance Languages Department at UB. Without these professors and mentors, I would never have had the courage to study abroad in France as an undergrad, or to pursue my current goal of teaching English abroad.”
  • Joëlle Carota
    3/24/20
    Joëlle is one of 12 doctoral candidate finalists in UB's Fourth Annual Three Minute Thesis competition. Click on Joëlle's name to watch her video presentation.
  • Elise Roberts
    3/12/18
    "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."
  • Adam Dounane
    6/6/23
    Adam Dounane ’23, joint major in French and Communication and RLL’s 2023 Outstanding Senior, came to UB knowing that he wanted to explore how studying world languages and cultures could help solve real-world problems, and he says that “RLL has been an amazing community to do exactly that.”
  • David Turnbull
    3/12/18
    "Language is a gift. It helps us understand how to build bridges with other people. It’s something we should feel privileged to study. Because the relationships and opportunities you can create with language are truly unique."
  • Hannah Griffiths
    3/12/18
    "I come from a small town in New York State, and the first time I visited UB and heard three different languages, I knew it was the place for me!"
  • Brandon Reilly
    3/12/18
    "In light of recent events, I believe it is more important than ever to educate ourselves and each other about people from different walks of life."
  • Angelique Romulus
    8/6/18
    A class of 2018 Advanced Honors Scholar, Psychology major and French minor, Angelique is ready to embark on a doctoral program in clinical psychology at Long Island University.
  • Lilian Macancela
    10/24/19
    This summer Lilian spent 6 weeks in Milian, Italy with VoluntarItaly. Through a partnership between the Dante Aligheri Society of Michigan and the Oratories of Lombary, Italy, students who speak some Italian are placed as counselors at church-run summer camps.  Volunteers live with with a family, get free accommodation and perfect their Italian skills.  This is Lilian's story:
  • CaTyra Polland
    1/3/19
    "I originally wanted to be a Spanish teacher but I changed my mind along the way. However, I still wanted to major in Spanish. I knew the importance of being bilingual and the rapid growth of the Spanish speaking population."
  • Daniel Oakes
    4/23/19
    "I never considered myself to be a teacher in the past; however, it’s the amazing experiences I had by studying abroad in Italy and helping international students practice English through UB’s Chat Room that convinced me to apply. Here at the school, I’d like to thank Dr. Emanuela Pecchioli, Dr. Paola Ugolini, and Dr. Laura Chiesa for teaching me Italian to a level that made this possible. "
  • Jacob Caldwell
    3/12/18
    “I will use American football to support health and learning at my placement, and play soccer as well, in order to ensure an equal exchange of culture.”
  • Emma Correia
    6/6/23
    Emma Correia, a double major in Spanish and Linguistics with a minor in Education, was one of only seven students in the country to receive the 2023 Gabriela Mistral Award, which is awarded by Sigma Delta Pi, the National Collegiate Hispanic Honor Society, to members who have shown outstanding initiative in addition to academic excellence. In addition to winning this national honor, Correia was named the Outstanding Senior for Linguistics and served as an ambassador to the UB College of Arts and Sciences for both Linguistics and RLL.
  • Annika Smith
    6/6/23
    Annika Smith, joint major in French and Global Affairs, won a SUNY Chancellor’s Award in spring 2023. During her time in RLL, she participated in French Club, collaborated with a professor on research about masks and masking practices in Côte d’Ivoire, and did an AmeriCorps internship as an English teacher with Journey’s End Refugee Services. She completed her French major while studying abroad in Lyon, France.
  • Kelly Aldinger
    3/12/18
    "Studying in Peru was undoubtedly the best decision I've ever made and I would encourage everyone to go abroad and be immersed in another culture. It will change you in ways unimaginable."
  • Sophie May
    12/22/21
    French and Political Science double major Sophie May has won a Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Fellowship beginning in Fall 2022! The Rangel Program selects outstanding Fellows annually in a highly competitive nationwide process and supports them through two years of graduate study, internships, mentoring, and professional development activities. How did she do it? Read on...
  • Diana Cortés-Evans
    1/27/20
    "I came to Puerto Rico with support from the University at Buffalo Romance Languages and Literatures Department to be a cultural mediator and translator for legal services and policy work by the Puerto Rico Recovery Assistance Legal Clinic group. This is my first time visiting the archipelago, and it is hard to position myself; although I am not a lawyer, and cannot contribute in creating policies, I am a PhD student in Spanish literature. Therefore, personally as a cultural critic mind-driven I am hoping to understand the Puerto Ricans through their written language and artistic representations. Today I am not writing as a cultural critic, however, but as a witness who is seeing Puerto Rico and its diaspora mobilizing to help each other."
  • Stephen Rogers
    3/12/18
    "The freedom to pursue my interests in the humanities while satisfying my primary goal of dentistry was due to the flexibility of the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures."
  • Andrea ModicaAmore
    5/15/19
    "As my time here in Italy comes to an end, I can’t help but reflect on these last three months and feel so incredibly lucky to have had this experience. I could not have asked for a better school and family to have spent my time with. I now consider this tiny, close-knit community to be another home of mine. Throughout my time here I have made forever friends, gained new family members, and have developed a passion for helping students learn and achieve their goals."