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Southern Illinois University



College of Liberal Arts


Alumni Stories


B.A. (2015), Foreign Language & International Trade: Chinese

Sichuan, China(Sichuan, China)

Michael writes:

Since moving to China after graduation I have worked for the U.S. company S&S World Wide (three years in three different Chinese cities) and finished a Master’s degree in Public Administration from the Peoples University of China in Beijing. The MPA grogram was a great experience to learn about the internal functions of the Chinese government. It was astonishing to learn about a system that in many ways is so different from ours yet in other aspects very similar. The desire I have for this kind of foreign knowledge is what lured me into the challenging flit program in the first place. The taste of that knowledge and tools for success that I received from flit are what made doing my MPA program possible.

After graduating from the MPA program, I have since moved to Chengdu in the southwestern province of Sichuan, and registered my own consulting company on Nov 11th, election day last year. It’s a day I will always remember…with mixed emotions.

If any readers would like more info about education, careers, business, politics, or anything else in China, then please free to contact me…Or better yet, come for a visit! 

It may sound funny, but I tell you this: Come to China (one of the most populated countries in the world) to be unique or just come to blend in. Make life what you want it to be!


Michael Justich



Gina Breen with her father, Tom2006 (BA Spanish), 2007 (BA French), 2010 (MA French)

Featured with her father in the SIU Alumni Magazine (Summer 2015). Click here to read the original feature in PDF format.

After completing three foreign language degrees at SIU Carbondale and serving as a member of the Student Alumni Council, Gina is currently working on her PH.D. at Louisiana State University.


Graduated: 2004

Occupation: Systems Manager - Division of Biology and Biomedical Sciences - Washington School of Medicine

Mr. Jackson writes, "Miss my years studying Latin and Greek at SIUC. Happiest days of my academic career and do not regret pursuing my BA in Classics. Fondly remember Greek with Dr. Williams and Latin with Dr. Johnson. Also the course on Plato that Dr. Johnson taught. Still have all my course books."

thumbnail image of old mythology flyerThanks, Mr. Jackson. Quite a nice complement for the teaching efforts of each professor.

Dr. Johnson until recently served as the Chair of Languages, Cultures, and International Trade and is still teaching, while Dr. Williams has been retired a few years. 

[Pictured right: A flier for Dr. Williams' legendary Mythology course.]


Graduated 1987

Occupation: Chiropractor

Ms. Juul writes," I've moved back to town this past week and would like to support and reconnect with the German program. 

As far as German goes - I earned my B.A. many years ago, lived in Germany for a short time, then went into teaching ESL. I have recently started brushing up on my German and plan to take the Heilpraktiker exam in Germany so I can have working vacations there. (From what I understand there's a limited number of well-trained chiropractors in Germany.)"

The department wishes you well on your exam and many pleasant trips to Germany to come. Thank you for letting us know.


In early May, the department received an update from Aline Davis Wilson, BA 1973, MA 1981 in French.

Aline is a retired Reference Librarian presently living in Florida since 1989. She worked for the University of South Florida, Tampa and received a grant-in-aid in 1997 to study Library Science. Aline earned a MA in Library Science and worked for the Hernando County Public Library in Brooksville, FL for 12 years as a Reference Librarian and Manager of the Reference Department.

She retired in 2012 and is pursuing freelance writing on the Yahoo!Contributor Network. Her latest work is a chapter entitled Job Stress and the Librarian: Coping Strategies from the Professionals (Mcfarland & Co, Inc. to be published July 15, 2013).

Her husband Paul, BA 1981, is still working and their son Michael and his wife live and work in Orlando.

Thanks for sharing, Aline. We wish you continued success in your writing endeavors!

Mr. Gerald Plotkin

Gerald PlotkinRetired Teacher (of 38 years) and French Interpreter
BA in French (1964) with a Minor in Biology

Just recently, Mr. Plotkin contacted our office for more information about the Madeleine Smith Memorial Scholarship offered by the Department of Languages, Cultures, and International Trade. Dr. Smith taught French in our department and he considered her to be one of his favorite professors.

Per Gerald: “I’ve used my French all my life, teaching, interpreting for the State Department, traveling, two years in Peace Corps, and these days taking interested people to France on Sister Cities visits.”

To learn more about his work in the Peace Corps while in Africa, please visit:

In addition to learning French at SIUC, Gerald received a Master’s in French at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, a few years after attending a language conference during his first year of teaching. The presenter suggested that,” …if you ever get tired of teaching, become a student for a while…”

The presenter also suggested that it might be fun to study another language every few years. Gerald’s love of foreign language study (in the last 50 years) grew to include: Spanish, German, Russian, Hebrew, Jula (in the Peace Corps in West Africa), and Mandarin Chinese for the last dozen years.

Just recently, Gerald was able to use language to solve a communication problem involving a Russian couple in search of their lost car at the parking and transportation department at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville where he is presently employed. Even though his family came from Russia around 1900, he had never learned Russian until he studied it for 3 semesters at the local community college. His co-workers radioed him to translate. He had spoken it so long ago, and didn’t understand much that was said, but he understood “mwi nye znayim” (which translates to “we don’t know”). In the end, through some conversation and detective work, he was able to determine which lot the car was parked at and was rewarded when the remote beeped when pressed. “All’s well that ends well, and you never know how knowing another language can save the day.”