Meet Our Students

Foreign Languages and Literatures students at UMKC come from all over the country. Get to know our students and you’ll know what our programs are all about.


UMKC Degree Opens The World For French/Political Science Alum

Lyndsey Martin (‘18) graduated from UMKC with a B.A. in political science and a minor in French. As an undergraduate, Lyndsey focused on comparative politics and foreign language studies, taking coursework in both French and Arabic. During her junior year, she spent a semester in Paris at L’Institut Catholique, where she took classes in French and studied contemporary challenges facing the European Union. As a senior, she studied abroad in Portugal as part of the faculty-led January term program with Ambassador Allan Katz, focusing on Portuguese civil society, politics, and economics. After graduating, Lyndsey took a gap year and returned to France, where she taught English at a high school near Lille. Lyndsey is currently a student at William & Mary Law School, where her studies focus on international law. This summer, she is interning for the Constitutional Court of Indonesia in Jakarta and the Center for Constitutional Studies at Andalas University in Padang, Indonesia, doing comparative research and analysis into Indonesian and American elections.


Celebrating Our 2020 Graduating Seniors

Molly Gilstrap – Bachelors of Arts in Languages and Literatures – Spanish with a dual degree in Computer

Molly shares some of her experiences at UMKC in the following video, along with her plans for the future



Jessica Wikle – Bachelor of Arts in Languages and Literature- French

Congratulations to senior Jessica Wikle who will begin a Ph.D. in French Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign as a Graduate Teaching Assistant in the fall!
Jessica’s comments upon graduating from UMKC  “I really loved the university and the professors and I am very excited to start my graduate studies.”
We wish Jessica the best in her futher endeavors.
Félicitations et bonne continuation, Jessica!

New Literary Magazine In Spanish For Students And The Community

Since October 2019, students interested in creative writing and the arts can participate y contribute to the new literary magazine in Spanish on campus, Baladí. This online publication still keeps the look of a print fanzine, and in its pages, readers can find poems, short stories, and illustrations from contributors from around the world. Do you want to publish in our magazine? Please send an email to Dr. Villamandos
You can find the issues here:

Baladí 1
Baladí 2
Baladí 3
Baladí 4  
Baladí 5


Grace St. Pierre

     Félicitations à Grace St. Pierre who is the first UMKC student to win one of only two annual American Society of the French Academic Palms (ASFAP) summer scholarships. She will use the $4000 scholarship to participate in UMKC’s six-week Lyon Study Abroad program with Dr. Levy this summer.

Grace is a sophomore Honors College student majoring in Nursing with a minor in French. She has been studying French since middle school and was drawn to the language originally because it allowed her to connect with Congolese immigrants attending her church in her hometown of St. Louis. She knows that French will be very useful as she pursues her dream to become a nurse.


Samuel Lim wants to lead a life of learning and teaching

Bachelor of Arts in Languages and Literatures – French, 2018

Samuel Lim at commencement with Diploma.

Why did you choose UMKC?

I transferred here in 2015 to study with my voice teacher. I originally was a voice performance major, but realized I was also very interested in language and cultural identity so I decided to switch to French language and literature.

What are the challenges and benefits of the program?

The field is very interdisciplinary so you have to be able to navigate research in literature, linguistics and the other social sciences. If you learn to navigate these fields, you can explore so many perspectives of the human experience.

You just graduated. What’s next?

I’m part of Teach for America in Atlanta, where I’ll be teaching high-school social studies. While I’m there, I’ll be applying to graduate school for doctoral programs in history and French. I hope to become a university professor and work in student affairs


Bachelor of Arts in Languages and Literatures – Spanish, 2016

Why did you choose UMKC?

I chose UMKC to stay close to family and friends. I grew up in Lee’s Summit and graduated from Lee’s Summit North.

Why did you choose Spanish?

I chose Foreign Languages and Literatures – Spanish to learn the language of my family. English was the language of my household growing up, but with the majority of my family having Spanish as their first language, it was important to me to be able to communicate with them.

Since entering college, what have you learned about yourself?

I have learned quite a lot. I did not completely apply myself during my first round at UMKC. My grades were not a priority, and I was not involved on campus. I dropped out of UMKC in 2011 following the study abroad program to Granada, Spain. Since dropping out I came out to my family, got sober, got engaged, bought a house, married and returned to school. Upon returning to UMKC in fall 2015, I made it a point to be more involved and learn about all of the resources available to students on campus. I became involved with LGBTQIA+ Programs & Services and helped start UMKC’s collegiate recovery community called RooCovery. With LGBTQIA+ Programs and Services I was able to attend MBLGTACC (the nation’s largest LGBTQIA college conference) 2015 at Purdue University.

My work with starting RooCovery provided me a job opportunity with the Addiction Technology Transfer Center (ATTC) housed in the School of Nursing and Health Studies on Hospital Hill. With this position, I was able to attend the 7th National Collegiate Recovery Conference in April 2016 as both a representative for UMKC and ATTC.

Are you a first generation college student?

Yes, I am. Honestly, at first, it felt like a lot of pressure. I grew up hearing “go to college,” but with little to no guidance on the process. As a recent transfer to UMKC in 2010, people would ask me what I was going to school for and I would respond, “my parents.” Now that I have returned to UMKC for my own personal accomplishment, it feels great. I also have a better understanding as to why my parents pushed it so much.

Gabrielle holding her sobriety coin.

What are the challenges of the Spanish program?

The challenges I face in the program are more personal, and it is doubting my ability to speak Spanish. Growing up with English as my first language in a family that learned Spanish as their first language has provided many obstacles in learning a language I feel I should already know.

What are the benefits of the Spanish program?

The benefits of the program are the numerous study abroad opportunities that increase fluency and cultural awareness through immersion. My college program has inspired me to use Spanish to help families like mine communicate more effectively in health care settings especially as it relates to mental health.