Instructor receives prestigious honor from French government
The French government has singled out a language instructor at the University of Missouri–St. Louis to receive a prestigious honor it bestows to academics, cultural and educational figures.
Ruth “Suzanne” Hendrickson, associate teaching professor of French at UMSL, was selected to receive the Chevalier of the Ordre des Palmes Académiques from the French Education Ministry. The French government gives out the award in recognition of educators who have actively participated in the promotion of French culture and language. The Palmes Académiques is a distinction created by Napoléon Bonaparte in 1808.
Hendrickson came to UMSL in 2007 as a French faculty member from Arizona State University in Phoenix. She earned her PhD in French Language and Literature at Washington University in St. Louis. In addition to French language, literature and civilization, she also teaches courses on Franco-Canadian civilization and French presence in North America at UMSL.
She was presented her award by Jean-François Rochard, deputy cultural attaché to the French Consulate in Chicago during a reception May 11 at the Millennium Student Center at UMSL.
UMSL Daily caught up with Hendrickson recently to talk about the honor.
What got you interested in the French language?
I am not French. Having been born in Louisiana and grown up there and on the Gulf Coast I have always been interested in the French heritage of the region. That is what led me to study French language and culture in school and become a teacher of French language, literature, and culture.
How did you come to the government’s attention to receive this prestigious award?
I was nominated for the award by the American Association of Teachers of French in recognition of my work promoting the study of French language and culture through my teaching and my work with the association at the local and national levels, both in Arizona and Missouri. I have also been active in other organizations which promote French language and culture, such as the Alliance Francaise and the Sister Cities organization in Arizona (Phoenix- Grenoble) and in Missouri (St. Louis-Lyon Sister Cities).
How does it feel to be singled out for such a prestigious honor by the French government?
I am thrilled and truly honored to receive this award. I very much enjoy sharing my love of France, its culture, language and literature with my students! I feel that the award recognizes not only my work, but also the achievements of the French Section and program at UMSL.
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