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Kerry LePain

Name Kerry LePain

Graduation year 2012

Double Major French, History with additional concentration in Portuguese


What's your current job?

I just left my previous job to pursue an MA in Latin American Studies at the University of Chicago. I was previously working as a project manager for a textile designer in Paris, France. We produced woven metal textiles for interior architecture projects (luxury brands, yachts, hotels, etc) around the world.

 How does language and culture help you succeed in your career?

I was working in a French company founded in Paris, so French was our day-to-day language of operation. Because we did 80% of our projects internationally, I did quite a bit of translation from English to French for the company, and also used Italian and Portuguese on an occasional basis.

Did you study abroad? If so, can you speak about your experience?

I studied for an academic year in São Paulo, Brazil. It was an incredibly formative experience, both as my first time living in a foreign country and my first time living my life in a foreign language. It still influences me today and was the catalyst for my upcoming masters program and my future career goals.

How did ASU and the language program at SILC prepare you for your future?

First and foremost, I was fortunate to have an ensemble of really stellar professors who encouraged me and accompanied my thesis writing process. I think the ability to study multiple languages and have that fit into my curriculum was quite advantageous, because working in a place like Europe, speaking more than just two languages is a huge asset. I took a variety of classes in foreign languages, not just culture related, but also incorporating aspects of political science and economy. This really prepared me for life as a working professional abroad rather than just an appreciator of foreign cultures.

 What was your favorite thing about learning a language?

A sense of discovery. Every time I start learning a new language, I feel like the slate is wiped clean, and I start to get connecting dots. It's also an amazing feeling when you see a word in English, or a phrase that the foreign language has helped you to understand in a different way. I see many words in English and can interpret them differently or see their history because of Romance language knowledge. It's great.

Any advice for current language studies students?

Keep going with it. People will often question why you're studying a foreign language, because they haven't traveled or really understood the benefits of it. People told me French wouldn't get me anywhere, but I've lived in Paris for the past three years and met amazing people doing it and traveled and experienced so much. The ability to relate to entirely different populations of people in new ways is one of the most worthwhile things you can study.