Melissa Hanson

My hometown when I was a student was

Manistee, MI

I graduated in


I studied

French and economics

I currently live in

Paris, France

I am now

an English teacher for adults.

Since graduating from Alma

I went on to a master’s program in French studies at New York University. It was an incredibly enriching program that ended with a summer semester of study in Paris, where I had the opportunity to take classes with professors from prestigious French universities. At this point, I knew that my future lay in France, so I applied to be an English teaching assistant in the French public schools. I was accepted into the program and spent the next two years teaching English to elementary school students. After two years working with children, I decided it was time to move on and enrolled in a CELTA (Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults) program. Since 2010, I have been working for a language school, where I provide linguistic and cultural training to French professionals. In September 2014, I found out that I had been granted French citizenship, and next year, I plan on taking a national competitive exam that would allow me to become a full-fledged English teacher in the French public school system.

Aside from working, I enjoying doing sports and being outdoors. I especially like to rock climb (I owe my start to the Alma College Climbing Club!) and have been lucky enough to climb in some of the most beautiful places in France. I’ve also become quite the cyclist, and, most days, you can find me biking to work in Paris. 

My Alma education

prepared me well for my master’s program, thanks to the wonderful professors I had at Alma. They instilled in me a rigorous work ethic and provided me with the bases needed to pursue a master’s degree. I can honestly say that I learned how to “think” at Alma, and I believe this is one of the reasons I was accepted to the NYU French studies program on a full-ride scholarship.

My favorite place(s) on campus included

the climbing wall!

My favorite professors(s) included

Dr. Cunningham, an excellent professor of economics. His courses were among the most challenging I took, but I learned so much and developed a passion for the subject.

Dr. Arnold was another of my favorite professors. She always brought so much energy and enthusiasm to the classroom. Thanks to her wonderful teaching, I was well prepared for my master’s program in French studies at NYU.

My most vivid/best memory of my time at Alma is

when I went to Alaska to study the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill with Dr. Payerhin. The most unforgettable moment was definitely during our four-day kayaking trip in the Prince William Sound when we found ourselves paddling next to surfacing whales! I’m sure I’ll never experience anything like that again! 

My off-campus study experience(s) included

spending a semester studying in Paris, France during my junior year. The experience was eye-opening, to say the least, and my time there passed all too quickly. Alma’s Paris program provided the perfect balance between language training and cultural visits. Thanks to my home stay and French lessons at the Alliance française, my French improved by leaps and bounds, as did my confidence! I also took advantage of weekends and school vacations to explore different areas of France. By the end of my stay, the only thing I could think about was going back!