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Graduate Students

John Ashburn

My name is John Ashburn (ABD) and I am a PhD student here at UL. I’m originally from Northeast Tennessee, and I completed my undergraduate studies in French & Spanish at Belmont University in Nashville. I’ve been in Lafayette since 2018 working on my Masters of French. I’m primarily interested in spoken & written language as it relates to identity, both individual & communal, particularly within queer, non-normative & non-binary groups of gender & sexual expression.




Katarina Brankovic (ABD) obtained a BA in Philosophy and an MA in French literature and is currently pursuing a PhD degree in Francophone Studies.



Colin Broussard (ABD) is a Ph.D. candidate in Francophone Studies. He was born in Lake Charles, LA. He completed his undergraduate studies in 2016 at McNeese State University receiving a B.S. in Psychology and a B.A. in Foreign Languages with a concentration in French. He received his M.A. in Psychology with a concentration in General and Experimental Psychology in the spring of 2018 after completing a master’s dissertation and presenting at multiple Southwestern Psychological Association poster sessions. He currently teaches French at A.M. Barbe High School in Lake Charles. His research interests are pedagogy, second language acquisition, and the integration of culture in second language education.

Kyezie Bwanangela Kyezie Bwanangela was born in Shabunda in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). He has an Associate Degree of Arts in Criminal Justice from Grand Rapids Community College (GRCC) and obtained his Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice with a French minor at Grand Valley State University in Michigan. Kyezie is a Ph.D. student in Francophone Studies at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. He is very interested in Francophone African studies; therefore, his research will focus on the living conditions of the Lega tribe and the transition of their youth from child to adulthood.
Chase Cormier (ABD) is a Ph.D. candidate in Francophone Studies. He also holds a B.A. in Creative Writing and French as well as a M.A. in French. His research explores Francophone Louisiana culture, foodways, and identities within the broader contexts of Francophone studies, postcolonial studies, diaspora studies, and creolization. His dissertation analyzes the historical and cultural importance of the boucherie, a Louisiana meat-processing ritual influenced by Franco-German, Indigenous American, and West African foodways. Writer/poet, he serves as editor of UL Lafayette’s in-house print literary journal, Feux Follets.
Sarah Djos-Raph (ABD) (née Denslow) (she/her) is a mother, a wife, a philanthropist, a friend, and a Ph.D. candidate in Francophone Studies and graduate instructor of French. Originally from Willow Grove, Pennsylvania, she holds a B.A. in International Affairs with a concentration in Women’s Studies and a B.A. in French from The University of Maine. Additionally, she holds a M.A. in French from The University of Louisiana at Lafayette. As an American-Beninese dual citizen, her dissertation centers around feminine figures and sorority in contemporary Beninese literature written by women Beninese writers, and her research interests include West African nationalism, identity, and diaspora. Sarah has previously served as a Rotary Youth Exchange Student, Fulbright Canada Killam Fellow, and Peace Corps Volunteer, and she is a current Rotarian and runs a non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of youth.
Léa Fougerolle is a second-year Ph.D. student in the department and the Editorial Assistant of Études Francophones journal. Being a French native, she first graduated from the Université de Lorraine in Nancy, earning a B.A. in Cultural Studies (2014-2017). She then studied for three years at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales in Paris, where she earned an M.A. in Social Sciences with a major in Sociology (2017-2020). During the 2019-2020 school year, she served as a Fulbright Foreign Language Assistant at Ursinus College, Pennsylvania, where she assisted in teaching French and Francophone studies to freshmen and sophomores. After a year of transition spent in former Yugoslavia, she returned to the U.S. and eventually moved to Lafayette to join the department. She is now the Doctoral Fellow in the program, where she will be conducting research on sensory experiences within 20th and 21st-century French and Belgian poetry for her dissertation. Among her –multiple–interests are experimental and immersive literature, the way in which social changes and the ecological crisis can be approached through literature, as well as smellscapes, and basically everything that is poetry and/or nose-related.
Emma Hartlet My name is Emma Harlet and I’m originally from France ; my family lives in Aix-en-Provence, but I’ve spent most of my life in the north of France. In 2018, I received a Bachelor's and Master’s Degrees in American History and Literature at the Université Catholique de Lille. I’ve been studying Louisiana culture and literature since, and now, I would like to develop a better critical analysis of the rich and diversified topics explored in 19th century Louisiana literature.
Miranda Heaner is a second-year M.A. student in French. She holds a B.A. in French and a B.A. in International Studies from Northwestern University, where she wrote an undergraduate honors thesis on antisemitism, homophobia, and the duality of belonging as seen in multiple volumes of Marcel Proust’s In Search of Lost Time. She is currently writing her masters’ thesis on Alsatian influences on Cajun cultural practices, focusing on rural Mardi Gras and Christmas traditions. In 2022, she will begin an independent study that focuses on medieval French literature. Her research interests include liminality, the carnivalesque (particularly in late-medieval literature), and perceptions of time, as well as descriptions of sound.
Lucas Lezian My name is Lucas Lezian. I was born in Hyères-Les-Palmiers on the French Riviera. I graduated with a BA in Modern Languages (English and Italian) and an MA in political science from the University of Toulon, French Riviera. After that, I was given the opportunity to move to Lafayette and embark on a new adventure in the Southern part of the United States to pursue a Ph.D. in Francophone Studies at UL-Lafayette. My research interests lie in Fantasy and Sci-Fi novels.
Jonathan Olivier is a second-year M.A. student in French. He holds a B.A. in Journalism from Louisiana State University. For a decade, he has worked as a freelance journalist for publications like Outside, Bitter Southerner, Libération, and L’Actualité. His work often explores the ways in which people interact with the natural world, as well as the evolution of culture due to factors like climate change, Americanization and capitalism. As a master’s student, he has focused on sociolinguistics in the context of Francophone Louisiana. In 2022, he began an independent study that analyzes how identity and motivation influence second-language learners of French in Louisiana. He is working on a book about the history of gumbo that is forthcoming with LSU Press.
Emily Sawin My name is Emily Sawin. I am from Udonthani, Thailand. I finished my Master in French at University of Mississippi. I am interested in social and intellectual development in the 19th century. My Master thesis focuses on the influence of the Industrialization on Nineteenth-Century French Literary and Artistic movements. For my dissertation, I am focusing on the influence of the French colonization in Southeast Asia, particularly in Vietnam, Laos and Thailand.
Sarah Smith

A PhD candidate in Francophone studies, Sarah Smith’s research focuses on contemporary literature of francophone Louisiana and its persistent ties to past, collective trauma. Sarah immensely enjoys teaching and has had students from all ages – from “mini francophone” preschoolers to college students. She has presented on curriculum design and activities at regional and national conferences, with a developing interest in the adaptation of FLE instruction to online formats. Sarah is the Editorial Assistant of Études Francophones, a member of the Feux Follets editorial committee, and Graduate Student Organization (GSO) President.

Sarah was awarded the university-wide Graduate Student Teaching Excellence Award in 2021.