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A Fulbright scholarship is one of the most prestigious ways to study abroad, offering exceptional graduates a chance to spend a year researching, studying or teaching, all while broadening their horizons. This year, Arizona State University senior Shannon Ditto has earned that honor and is France-bound.
“I was absolutely enamored with French,” Ditto said, explaining how she built up to the Fulbright. “I love the culture. It’s hard to describe why people love languages. It’s like every word you speak has a continuous history.”
Ditto did not initially want to study French, but in high school the language courses fit into her schedule. She credits her high school, and then ASU's School of International Letters and Culture's French department, for turning a class into a passion.
When completing her Barrett honors thesis, Ditto threw all her language skills into the project: an ambitious translation of the famous French author Colette’s “The Vagabond.”
“I had read an English translation of it, and I had the option to read it in French and English,” Ditto said. “I realized that the English translation of this novel had bowdlerized a lot of the content that was a little more sensitive and a little more scandalous.”
She translated the work, without excluding the themes and issues of sexuality and gender. Ditto gives Associate Professor Frédéric Canovas tremendous credit for serving as her thesis director.
“I got this Fulbright, and it’s predominantly because of him,” Ditto said. “He’s such an inspiration to me, such a model.”
Ditto’s thesis work is what lead her to the Fulbright program. Her passion for Colette’s writing led her to a professor at Université de Strasbourg who specializes in the author's work. She submitted her Fulbright application to study there and continue her translation work.
“I was very fortunate to actually obtain a Fulbright, I’m still in awe. I didn’t actually think it would happen.”
“I came to SILC because they’re doing such great work,” Ditto continued. “I can honestly say, every step of the way there’s been professors across all the different languages, different cultures, willing to help out, willing to go out of their way to make sure that you can succeed.”
For Ditto, her success comes down to one key philosophy: “Choose something you know you love, that you will work hard at, that you’ll do in your free time anyway… because if you choose a project like that, you don’t have to fake anything. It just comes from you.”