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Graduate Students

Chiraz Amani is a second-year M.A. student in French. She was born in Algeria and has a B.A. in French education and an M.A. in Didactics of French Foreign and Secondary Language from the École Normale Supérieure of Algiers. After three years of teaching in a public high school in Algiers, she was hired in 2020 through CODOFIL as a French teacher in Lafourche parish. She also worked at the Alliance Française de la Nouvelle-Orléans for two years. She's a singer, a theatre comedian, and she likes to write poetry and songs. She's interested in North African culture and literature.
Ayodeji Ayo-Ojo is a first-year M.A. student and a Graduate Teaching Assistant in French. She holds a B.A in French from Ekiti State University, Nigeria. She served as the secretary of the Department of French, Nasarawa State University, Nigeria. Her undergraduate research was on Translation, focusing on problems of faux amis (false cognates) encountered by anglophone students learning French. She is interested in African literature, especially colonialism and African folktales. As a Nigerian who loves to experience different cultures and ways of life, she enjoys traveling and meeting new people.
John Ashburn

My name is John Ashburn (ABD) and I am a PhD student and Graduate Teaching Assistant here at UL. I’m originally from Northeast Tennessee, and I completed my undergraduate studies in French & Spanish at Belmont University in Nashville. I’ve been in Lafayette since 2018 working on my Masters of French. I’m primarily interested in spoken & written language as it relates to identity, both individual & communal, particularly within queer, non-normative & non-binary groups of gender & sexual expression.


Katarina Brankovic is a Ph.D. student and Graduate Teaching Assistant at UL. Her research interests include biopolitics, phenomenology, disability, and postcolonial studies. In her dissertation, she analyses the role of prosthesis in the (de)construction of the ontology of body in 21st century French literature.

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Colin Broussard (ABD) is a Ph.D. candidate in Francophone Studies. He was born in Lake Charles, LA. He completed his undergraduate studies in 2016 at McNeese State University receiving a B.S. in Psychology and a B.A. in Foreign Languages with a concentration in French. He received his M.A. in Psychology with a concentration in General and Experimental Psychology in the spring of 2018 after completing a master’s dissertation and presenting at multiple Southwestern Psychological Association poster sessions. He currently teaches French at A.M. Barbe High School in Lake Charles. His research interests are pedagogy, second language acquisition, and the integration of culture in second language education.

Kyezie Bwanangela Kyezie Bwanangela is a Ph.D. student in Francophone Studies and a Graduate Teaching Assistant. He holds an M.A. in French and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice. He has a passion for teaching, research, and community engagement in the field of Francophone Sub-Saharan African Literature studies and Politics.
Throughout his career, he has had the privilege of working on numerous projects such as the McNair Summer Research Program, where he gained hands-on experience in research and publication at Grand Valley State University. Additionally, he was honored to receive the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Award for his work in promoting diversity and inclusion in the community at Grand Rapids Community College in Michigan.
His professional journey is grounded in his values of social justice, equity, and the decolonization of knowledge. As a teaching assistant, he aims to create a collaborative and inclusive learning environment that fosters intellectual curiosity and linguistic proficiency. His dissertation project on "Crime, Punishment, and Dehumanization during the Colonial Period in the Congo Free State, as Depicted in the Film and Book King Leopold's Ghost by Adam Hochschild," utilizes a postcolonial and critical race theory framework to examine the complexities of colonialism and its enduring legacies.
His career goal is to continue to contribute to ongoing discussions on the decolonization of knowledge and the importance of centering the voices and experiences of marginalized communities in scholarly work. He is excited to connect with others who share his values and passions and who are interested in exploring the intersections of power, culture, and identity in the colonial history of Africa.

Bhynty Charif is a first-year PhD student in Francophone Studies. She is French from Comoros and Madagascar. Passionate about literature, she first obtained a degree in French Literature at the Université de Paris-Est-Marne-La-Vallée. Her interest in Francophone culture and her desire to share the French language then led her to obtain a Master's degree with a specialization in language acquisition pegagogy (Université de Grenoble) and FLE (French as a foreign language) (Université d'Artois). Her professional career as a teacher of French as a Foreign Language spans almost 15 years in France and abroad (Africa), within the Alliances Françaises, Institut Francais, middle schools, and universities (Paris IV), in different socio-cultural contexts and learning communities (children, adolescents, adults, migrants). Based in Louisiana since 2014, Bhynty teaches in Saint Martin Parish, at Parks Middle School, in the heart of Cajun and Creole country. As a fervent defender of linguistic and cultural diversity, she is involved in numerous associations, particularly within the community of young French people with origins in Comoros in Paris as a cultural manager and newspaper editor. As a board member of the Alliance Française de Lafayette, she actively participated in the promotion of French-speaking culture in the parish. Today, she is part of the Union des Africans Francophones de Louisiane which promotes African culture in Louisiana. 
Sylvie Collodel is a first-year PhD student in Francophone Studies. Originally from Agen in the South of France, she holds a bachelor's degree in Spanish literature, language and civilization with a specialization in French as a foreign language. She also holds a Master's degree in French as a foreign language. She first taught in France, and then her passion for new cultures naturally led her to teach abroad in several different contexts and countries since 2009. She arrived in Louisiana in 2021 as a French teacher with CODOFIL where she teaches in Sunset in an immersion school. Her research explores the field of literature, particularly its place in education.
Chase Cormier (ABD) is a Ph.D. candidate in Francophone Studies. He also holds a B.A. in Creative Writing and French as well as a M.A. in French. His research explores Francophone Louisiana culture, foodways, and identities within the broader contexts of Francophone studies, postcolonial studies, diaspora studies, and creolization. His dissertation analyzes the historical and cultural importance of the boucherie, a Louisiana meat-processing ritual influenced by Franco-German, Indigenous American, and West African foodways. Writer/poet, he serves as editor of UL Lafayette’s in-house print literary journal, Feux Follets.
Louise Dalbudak (first-year PhD student): Coming from an atypical career with bifurcations, I had the opportunity to join the Francophone Studies program at UL Lafayette to perfect my knowledge in French literature.Being motivated from an early age to learn about different cultures, I began my university career with a bachelor degree in Geography that I obtained in my hometown of Bordeaux. I also have a bachelor’s degree in Literature, Language and Civilization & International Relations that I obtained in Paris. Both of these degree programs gave me insight into the close relations that States are able to maintain, and the common culture that these exchanges generated, after decades of complicity. My interest in children's literature and my passion for transmitting knowledge, led me to achieve Master’s degree in Education and Instruction. I worked as a teacher for 5 years in France and am currently teaching in New Iberia in conjunction with CODOFIL.
Sarah Djos-Raph (ABD) (née Denslow) (she/her) is a mother, a wife, a philanthropist, a friend, and a Ph.D. candidate in Francophone Studies and graduate teaching assistant in French. Originally from Willow Grove, Pennsylvania, she holds a B.A. in International Affairs with a concentration in Women’s Studies and a B.A. in French from The University of Maine. Additionally, she holds a M.A. in French from The University of Louisiana at Lafayette. As an American-Beninese dual citizen, her dissertation centers around feminine figures and sorority in contemporary Beninese literature written by women Beninese writers, and her research interests include West African nationalism, identity, and diaspora. Sarah has previously served as a Rotary Youth Exchange Student, Fulbright Canada Killam Fellow, and Peace Corps Volunteer, and she is a current Rotarian and runs a non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of youth.

Léa Fougerolle is a second-year Ph.D. student in the department and the Editorial Assistant of Études Francophones journal. Being a French native, she first graduated from the Université de Lorraine in Nancy, earning a B.A. in Cultural Studies (2014-2017). She then studied for three years at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris, where she earned an M.A. in Social Sciences with a major in Sociology (2017-2020). During the 2019-2020 school year, she served as a Fulbright Foreign Language Assistant at Ursinus College, Pennsylvania, where she assisted in teaching French and Francophone studies to freshmen and sophomores. After a year of transition spent in former Yugoslavia, she returned to the U.S. and eventually moved to Lafayette to join the department. She is now the Doctoral Fellow in the program, where she will be conducting research on sensory experiences within 20th and 21st-century French and Belgian poetry for her dissertation. Léa is also a regular contributing editor for Venti Journal. Among her –multiple–interests are experimental and immersive literature, the way in which social changes and the ecological crisis can be approached through literature, as well as smellscapes, and basically everything that is poetry and/or nose-related.


Emma Hartlet Emma Harlet (ABD) is currently completing a joint-supervised Ph.D. dissertation (cotutelle) in Francophone Studies at UL Lafayette and in Anglophone Studies at the Université Bordeaux-Montaigne in France. She grew up in the north of France where she received a Licence and Master's degree in American History and Literature at the Université Catholique de Lille.

For her Master’s thesis she studied the French heritage of Louisiana in the late 20th century. In her research, she seeks to illuminate and better understand Louisiana’s deep and complex culture, and her dissertation focuses on the concept of creoleness in the work of francophone and anglophone female writers from the end of the 19th and early 20th centuries.

Miranda Heaner is a second-year M.A. student and Graduate Teaching Assistant in French. She holds a B.A. in French and a B.A. in International Studies from Northwestern University, where she wrote an undergraduate honors thesis on antisemitism, homophobia, and the duality of belonging as seen in multiple volumes of Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time. She is currently writing her masters’ thesis on Alsatian influences on Cajun cultural practices, focusing on rural Mardi Gras and Christmas traditions. In 2022, she will begin an independent study that focuses on medieval French literature. Her research interests include liminality, the carnivalesque (particularly in late-medieval literature), and perceptions of time, as well as descriptions of sound.
Colby LeJeune is a first-year French M.A. student from L’Anse LeJeune, a rural community in Acadia Parish, Louisiana. He earned a B.S. in Linguistics and in Geology from Tulane University before going on to spend several years working in rice cultivation and research. Colby is a current board member of the Cajun Prairie Habitat Preservation Society, which aims to conserve Southwestern Louisiana’s indigenous grassland ecosystems, and much of his research interests lie in the confluence of the human and the natural in the region, especially the folk taxonomy, animal and plant names, and ethnobotany of the Louisiana French. He is also interested in other aspects of both space and place, principally toponymy and the classification of landforms, and their relation to other spheres of culture, such as music. Phonological, morphological, and other variation in Louisiana French and Creole language varieties round out his research interests.
Lucas Lezian Lucas Lezian (ABD) is a Ph.D candidate and Graduate Teaching Assistant in the Francophone Studies. He holds a licence in Modern Languages (English and Italian) and a Masters degree in Political Science from the University of Toulon, French Riviera. Since the beginning of his academic journey, he has been involved in his programs' activities. In France, he served as student representative for four years. In 2019, he joined the editorial board of UL Lafayette’s literary journal Feux Follets. Among his interests are fantasy and sci-fi literature, time-related features and the way they are depicted in literature, as well as the study of literary spaces, aesthetics, and pathos as a means of rhetorics. He will be conducting research on a French graphic novels series entitled Donjon for his dissertation.
Pierre-Olivier Pire is a second year PhD student and Graduate Teaching Assistant from Belgium in the Francophone Studies program. He holds a B.A. in French education (2017) from the École Normale Catholique du Brabant Wallon and graduated in 2020 with a M.A. in Langues et littératures françaises et romanes (French and Italian) from the Université Catholique de Louvain. His master’s thesis “Le courant de la négritude : embargo sur le Congo?” focuses on francophone literary production in Congo during and after the colonization.

After a year working in a bookstore and teaching undergraduate classes in a small university in Brussels, he joined the Francophone Studies program to continue his research. In his dissertation research, Pierre-Olivier compares the use of foreign languages, diglossia, and accents in Belgian and Congolese francophone literary productions.

Pierre-Olivier has already published an article “La littérature du Congo (belge). L’éternelle oubliée” in Francophonie vivante (2020-21) and a book chapter, “Une langue peut en cacher une autre : les particularités du tissage diglossique dans Madame Orpha de Marie Gevers” (forthcoming in January 2023).


Esteban A. Quispe is a first-year student in the Masters in French program at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Prior to his graduate studies, he served as a TAPIF Language Assistant for two consecutive school years in Avignon and Paris, France. His research interests include the aspects of folklore, poetics, literary contexts, transmission, and development of Franco-Louisiana ballads.

Emily Sawin

Emily Sawin (ABD) is Ph.D. candidate in Francophone Studies and Graduate Teaching Assistant in French. She is originally from Udonthani, Thailand. She holds a B.A. and a M.A. in French from the University of Mississippi. Her Master's thesis focuses on the influence of the Industrial Revolution on Nineteenth-Century French literary and artistic movements. She is working in the field of Việt Kiều Cultural Production in post-migratory postcolonial context. Her dissertation focuses on minority representation by Việt Kiều writers, cartoonists, and filmmakers, including Anna Moï, Doan Bui, Mihn Tran Huy, Clément Baloup, and Stéphane Ly-Cuong. Her academic interests include postcolonial studies, identity, immigration, postmemory, multidirectional memory, feminism, food studies, and cultural studies. She is currently working on a book chapter “Douze palais de mémoire: Dwelling On in ‘Notre palais de mémoire” in Dwelling (forthcoming with Cultural Literacy Everywhere in 2023).


Trent Threeton is a graduate research assistant at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette pursuing a Master of Arts in French. He is from Ponchatoula, Louisiana and earned a Bachelor of Arts in World Languages with a concentration in French from Southeastern Louisiana University with minors in Communication and Francophone & Creole Ethnic Studies. His research interests are Louisiana French, Louisiana Multiculturalism, Louisiana History, Social Media Communication, and World Language Acquisition & Pedagogy. Trent has published in the 2020 edition of The American Journal of French Studies and placed 17th in the top 20 publications of college students, nationally, with his article “L’histoire de ma famille.”


Yueyan Zhu is a second-year M.A. student and an international student from China. She graduated from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette with a B.A. in French and Francophone studies. She enjoys learning about different cultures and travelling around the world, she is fond of Francophone literature, art and religion because of her experience at Academy of the Sacred Heart. Her future goals include academic research and teaching in field of French and Francophone Studies, exploring the similarities between French Catholicism and Chinese Mohism, the idea of equality and fraternity.