Madison Kosater walks back to her seat after receiving the Outsanding French Student Award and the Denyse Marchesseau Endowed Scholarship for French and International Studies during Honors Convocation on Thursday, April 21, 2016, at Pearce Auditorium in Gainesville, Ga. (AJ Reynolds/Brenau University)

Six Weeks in Paris

Madison Elizabeth Kosater, a junior history and political science major from Macon, Georgia, was awarded the Denyse Marchesseau Endowed Scholarship for French and International Study during Brenau University’s Honor Convocation on April 21. She is the fifth recipient to win the scholarship at Brenau.

Madison Kosater received the Outsanding French Student Award and the Denyse Marchesseau Endowed Scholarship for French and International Studies.The scholarship was first awarded in 1999 and was established by Randolph-Macon College French teacher Denyse Marchesseau (who sadly passed away in 2000) when she gifted $100,000 of her assets to Brenau thanks to encouragement from then Brenau French professor and Provost Emerita Helen Ray, which whom she was close friends. The guidelines, laid out by Ray, state that the scholarship provides $4,000 to the winner so they may take classes in Paris, France, for the summer – an arrangement that Brenau has made in cooperation with Valdosta State University’s study abroad program. Madison will attend two classes (equal to six credit hours) at the Cité Internationale Universitaire de Paris from June 30 to Aug. 7.

“It’s such a good opportunity for students who don’t have a way to study abroad, and it’s been a real blessing for me to get it,” Kosater said.

“I am so delighted that a good student has earned the Marchesseau scholarship,” Ray said. “Recipients are few and far between but have always been smart, independent young women. I received a very nice note from Madison and wrote her back. Her description of herself reminds me so much of my own dreams as a young French major on her way to Paris, oh so many years ago!”

When Dr. Shelton Bellew, coordinator and assistant professor of modern languages, and Dr. Beth Nott, associate professor of French, informed Kosater about the scholarship in the fall, she thought, “This must be a coveted and prestigious scholarship.” In order for the credits to fit in with her major, she will taking two history classes: one about French culture through art, literature and film and the other centering around African immigration to France over the centuries.

“Madison has shown excellence in her language skills and appreciation for the diverse French-speaking cultures,” Bellew said. “We are so excited that she has won this prestigious award to study abroad. It has been far too long that this College of Humanities prize has not been awarded. We are working hard to cultivate more Liberal Arts students for the complexities of the future.”

While Kosater loves attending Brenau, she admits that it has been a struggle for her to find outlets for French studies at the university.

“The two teachers who teach [French] here are so amazing, but the only setback is that the French program hasn’t been given a lot of opportunity to grow,” she said. “If not a lot of students want to take French, then you have a small French program. If people knew about it more, they’d probably apply. Even if they weren’t extremely into learning French studies, I, for one, would take two semesters of the language in order to have the chance to go to France. So it turned out great for me.”

Kosater has wanted to go to Paris since the eighth grade, when her teacher told her about an excursion trip. She tried to go her junior year at Mount de Sales Academy, but the trip was canceled. She hasn’t had the means to study abroad until now, so the scholarship has offered her the fulfillment of a longtime dream. “This will be my chance to really see what I can do with the language,” she said.

Kosater hopes to become fully immersed in the French culture, so she can become a more understanding, open-minded person. Her classes at Brenau encourage her to embrace cultural relativity, so she hopes being there will give her an increased sense of empathy for others of different cultures.

“It puts it in check how honored I really am to receive it. I feel at a larger university it would have been twice as competitive. That’s one of the things I love so much about Brenau. They make you get involved; they make you apply for scholarships – it made me realize if you apply for something, even if you think you might not get it, you should do it.”

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