LOVE OF LANGUAGES LEADS TO TEACHING CAREER
GEORGINA THEOHAROPOULOS THOUGHT IT WAS ODD THAT SOMEONE WOULD STAND BEHIND A BUSY DOOR IN THE LOYOLA BUILDING. SHE SMILED AT HOW PECULIAR THIS WAS WHILE PASSING THROUGH THE DOORS HERSELF. THE STUDENT STANDING BEHIND THE DOOR THOUGHT GEORGINA WAS FLIRTING WHEN SHE SMILED AT HIM, AND THIS ODD ENCOUNTER EVENTUALLY LED TO A RELATIONSHIP.
The Loyola encounter between Bill Micholas and Georgina culminated in marriage recently following their graduation from Saint Mary’s. Bill completed an Arts degree with a major in Political Science and Georgina majored in French. Bill now works as a financial aid officer for the Department of Education and Georgina is completing her education degree at St. FX where her sister Joanna has joined her. Both sisters majored in French at Saint Mary’s. In fact all three sisters in the Theoharopoulos family have degrees in French and soon all will have education degrees.
Georgina’s love of the French language began at an early age. “Since primary, I’ve always loved French and it came naturally to me.” She says she would get very high marks in French and only average marks in English. ‘My father would ask me how I would do so well in French – a different language – and so poorly in English, the language I heard and spoke every day.”
Her knowledge of English, French and Greek (which was spoken at home) and her interest in all languages compelled her to major in French at Saint Mary’s. Her decision to attend Saint Mary’s was an easy one as well. “I wanted to stay close to home and the smaller class sizes at Saint Mary’s were appealing to me,” she says. “As the level of French increased, the courses became more challenging and interesting, and there was more one-on-one with the professors because the class sizes became smaller, which also led to closer friendships with classmates.”
Her decision to pursue an education degree was also an easy one. Her own academic experience – primary through high school – was always positive. “The teachers were great and they made learning so much fun.” And at the university level she says, “I learned so much because the professors challenged and pushed me to think more abstractly, be more open-minded, through plays, short stories, poems – it was not all grammar!”
She has enjoyed being a student so much that she now wants to turn the tables and, as a teacher, make learning as fun and interesting for her students as it was for her. “Also, if you ask anyone who really knows me, I love school supplies!”
Saint Mary’s Suits Her Style
Growing up with two older sisters, Joanna Theoharopoulos says she always had someone to “look up to and look out for me.” She says her sisters Jenny and Georgina are her best friends. “We are all close. We always looked out for one another.”
Learning new languages came easy to the Theoharopoulos sisters since they spoke both Greek and English at home. So when one sister decided to study French at university, the other two were not far behind.
Joanna had initially thought she wanted a career in computer animation but then she realized that would mean more math. “I’m terrible at math,” she says. So French it was. At first, she attended another university but “found that it lacked a social atmosphere outside of school time.” She was also looking for professors with a teaching style that better suited her. So she joined Georgina at Saint Mary’s.
“All of my professors were wonderful,” she says. But Dr. Paul Bernard was particularly special to her. “It was obvious to me that he is passionate about his subject and loves teaching. He was always there to listen and help no matter what the problem. He was caring, funny and entertaining. He was always looking out for my best interests.”
Joanna enjoyed tutoring her cousins when they were younger, so teaching also seemed like a natural choice. Now she has done as her sisters, and opted for a teaching career. Dr. Bernard made sure Joanna had the right courses to apply for the education program.
In addition to English, French and Greek, she is also studying German and would like to use her languages when travelling. She and sister Jenny have also thought about one day opening a frodistirio in Greece (a private school where children learn other languages after their regular school schedule).
The French Experience: Living and Learning French in France
The Department of Modern Languages and Classics offers a unique opportunity to study French. Students can earn credits towards their degree at Saint Mary’s while studying abroad at the Centre International d’Études Françaises, an integral part of the Université Catholique de l’Ouest in Angers, France.
Angers is a city of about 250,000 inhabitants, situated on the Loire Valley, in an area rich in history and culture. It is one of the major wine-growing regions of France and Paris is only a short train-ride away. Students can study in Angers for an academic year, a single term or a one-month summer session.
Welcome From The Dean of Arts
It is my pleasure to introduce you to the Faculty of Arts at Saint Mary’s University, and I welcome your interest in pursuing a Bachelor of Arts degree.
In Arts, we are proud of our 200-year tradition of scholarship, and the many students and graduates who have made outstanding contributions to the University and the wider community over the years. We are now Nova Scotia’s largest and most comprehensive Arts Faculty. At the same time, we take pride in providing a close-knit and supportive learning environment with professors and staff who are committed to helping you reach your educational goals.
As you plan for university, I encourage you to set your sights on Saint Mary’s, and the Faculty of Arts. We have an excellent combination of professors, academic programs, and support services that are intended to make for a meaningful educational experience while you are here, and an excellent foundation for your future.
There are some 95 full-time professors in the Faculty of Arts teaching in over twenty programs in the Humanities and Social Sciences. They can open windows on a wide range of subject areas that span the traditional liberal arts, interdisciplinary areas and specialized fields of research. Because we are part of a research university, you will benefit from working with active scholars who can help you develop and hone your own research skills. As you read the stories of the graduates featured in this publication, you can begin to imagine the kind of educational experiences that are possible here at Saint Mary’s. You will see that our students can move on to work as teachers, administrators, entrepreneurs, business leaders, participants in the creative and/or performing arts – to name but a few of the possibilities. Aside from working in a wide choice of professional fields, you will also see that an Arts education can help people enjoy satisfying personal and community lives.
In choosing a BA degree program, you are making a wise investment in your future. More than any other degree, the BA gives you intellectual agility – the key to a lifetime of professional opportunity. Canada’s private and public sector leaders have identified the traits of those who will be most successful in professional life in the years to come. These include skills that can be well developed in Arts here at Saint Mary’s: communication, research, analysis, problem-solving, adaptability, ethical and responsible conduct, leadership, teamwork. These are precisely the skills that we aim to develop in students who take our BA programs.
Let the stories that some of our graduates share with us in this issue of smarts speak for themselves. I’m sure they will convince you that if you are considering an Arts degree, you owe it to yourself to consider Saint Mary’s.
smarts yours forever