Student exchange kickstarted grad’s passion

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For Kylie Patton, learning French seemed rote and without purpose. Passionless.

“I didn’t much like French growing up,” she admitted

But for someone with only a tepid appreciation of learning the language in high school, she has embraced the language in university.

On June 19, Patton will join more than 300,000 Western alumni living around the world as a newly minted graduate and member of the Western Class of 2020.

The Waterloo resident and Dean’s list student will graduate with an Honours Specialization majoring in French Studies and minoring in Theatre Studies. She hopes to return next year to the Faculty of Education with the aim of becoming a French teacher.

After high school, Patton was uncertain of what she wanted to pursue. Her mother connected her with a French family in Nice and she became an au pair to a 9-year-old girl. Patton loved it.

When that year was done, she applied to Western and discovered how enthusiastic professors could make her think and thrive. Soon, her French grammar and written proficiency caught up with her conversational comfort.

“At Western, I found all the profs were really caring and wanted you to succeed.”

Growing up acting and performing in musicals, she originally was attracted to Western’s theatre program. Combining her degree with French Studies, she was able to delve into French theatre and satisfy both passions.

Patton also worked part-time at a coffee shop and traveled to and from Toronto as a singer for the rock/pop/indie alt-ABBA cover band Glutenhead during her university years.

“I’m kind of a person who thrives off of being busy rather than not,” she said.

In her third year, she was accepted into Western’s exchange program at the University of Nice and stayed with her au pair family while she studied. On the side, she did office administration at a car dealership.

Today, she would recommend a year of exchange study to anyone, and Western’s program was well-supported administratively and by faculty, she said.

“It was amazing. That’s one thing I loved about this program. It’s one thing to be studying a language, but to immerse yourself in the culture every day really helped me.”