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June 6, 2002 Students found their way in classics and modern language studies



Leonora Biagioni

Leonora Biagioni, a classics major, is going on to study archaeology.

Photo by Andrew Dobrowolskyj

by Lisa Harding

Leonora Biagioni says it’s important to study what you love. She started out studying physics, planning a career in astronomy, but she was miserable — and she was failing two of her courses.

The native Montrealer had entered the physics program from Marianopolis College because she felt her only career options were science or commerce.

Luckily, she needed an elective. Her physics advisor recommended computing languages, but she had other ideas. “If it was going to be an elective, it was going to be something I enjoyed.” So Biagioni signed up for an introductory archaeology course — and her life changed. “That first day in archaeology, it just clicked right away. I just sat there and went, wow, this is what I want.”

A month later, she had transferred her major to classics. Though she finished her physics courses and ended up failing two of them, she was scoring all As in her new major. “I obviously had touched down in the field I wanted to be in,” Biagioni said. She’s graduating this month in honours archaeology, and plans on doing her master’s in archaeology at the University of Western Ontario or Queen’s, after working for a year in Montreal.

Catherine Vallejo, the chair of the Department of Classics, Modern Languages and Linguistics (CMLL), says many students don’t find their chosen field right away. “I think Leonora’s story is not untypical of our department and possibly this university. We give students a chance to choose what they would be good at.”

Barbara Seasholtz is one of this year’s Arts and Science undergraduate scholars, placing in the top 100 of the Faculty, but like Biagioni, she hasn’t always found it easy. From Pennsylvania with a previous degree in language studies, Seasholtz was in her final year of a specialization in Spanish when the Sept. 11 event happened in New York. “For about a month or more, I had serious problems concentrating on my schoolwork, and the first week I couldn’t even break away from the constant news updates to go to class. I wanted to go home and help in some way, but knew that was impossible,” Seasholtz said.

Her parents lived close to the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant, where military personnel had moved in for protection. “Since my parents were older, I was very concerned for their safety. It was a crazy time for me.”

A month later, Seasholtz visited the U.S. “As soon as I arrived at the border, I saw a change, and when I crossed the border, the country didn’t feel the same. But I also saw that people weren’t scared, and that helped me get back on track.”

Vallejo said that Seasholtz “showed great strength of character. Even through difficult times she was able to help people who needed her, and managed to come out on top.” Not only did she graduate with an approximate 4.15 GPA, Seasholtz continued as president of the Hispanic Student’s Association.

Seasholtz found her way to Concordia while buying bagels — while she was teaching English in Barcelona, Spain. “I found out a bagel store (the first ever) had just opened up. I got to speaking with the owner, and her alma mater was Concordia. At her insistence, I researched it, and really liked what I saw.”

At the end of June, Seasholtz begins Concordia’s one-year journalism graduate diploma program. She hopes to return to Spain or Italy combining her language, teaching and journalistic skills.