Mariah Smith graduated earlier this month from Missouri Western State University in Saint Joseph, Mo., with a degree in English-Technical Communication.

But it was a certificate she just completed through Missouri Southern that is setting her on the path to her desired career.

“I started out at Missouri Western majoring in English with a minor in French,” Smith says.

Last April, however, the university made cuts to their academic offerings, including French.

“(The university) offered a teach-out program for French, but I decided to look for something on my own,” she says. “I started contacting different schools and that’s how I met Michelle Holt at Missouri Southern.”

A French Master Lecturer at MSSU, Holt was able to offer Smith an opportunity to earn the credentials she needed via a French certificate.

“Mariah requested to enroll in my upper division traditional face-to-face courses but would have to attend classes remotely as she finished her degree in St. Joseph,” says Holt. “I agreed to include her via a synchronous Zoom meeting during our regularly scheduled class times.

“Over the two semesters of these upper division courses, Mariah and her fellow classmates became very close, and on the last day of class this semester, Mariah drove three-and-a-half hours from Saint Joseph to the Missouri Southern campus to meet us in person.”

Earning the certificate online through Missouri Southern while finishing classes at another institution went more smoothly than Smith could have expected.

“I thought it was awesome that Missouri Southern offered a French certification, and (Holt) was so phenomenal working with me to make it the best experience possible,” she says.

But it also paved the way for an even more exciting opportunity.

“During the French for Business course this semester, we discussed various job opportunities,” says Holt. “Mariah sent an application to the Teaching Assistantship Program in France, and was accepted.”

Smith will leave for the Nantes region of France in September and will be teaching English there for eight months.

“I’ll be teaching English in a secondary-education setting,” says Smith. “I wanted to keep learning French and be integrated into French culture. This was a great opportunity to get that experience.”