STARKVILLE, Miss.--When Jonathan Sappington wakes up in August, he hopes to read his newspaper in French, turn on the television for the latest French programming and listen to French radio while sharing quarters with a student from a French-speaking country.
The Blue Mountain native and junior aerospace engineering and physics double-major at Mississippi State has no plans to move to France or Canada. Instead, he has applied to live in the Nanette Workman French House, a university-owned four-bedroom residence that now will provide a cultural immersion experience for students taking French courses.
Even the resident assistant at the hilltop house along state Highway 182 will be a native French speaker. (To longtime Starkville residents, the shaded 1940s era, wood-frame structure at the north edge of campus is referred to as the Sheeley House, since it was the former private family residence of legendary chemistry professor and faculty icon Clyde Q. Sheeley.)
Whenever the six students chosen to live at the house do anything there this fall, they'll do their best to communicate exclusively in French.
"They will try to speak French as much as possible," said Robert Raymond, an MSU graduate from Columbus who has served as a departmental instructor for many years. "This will be a fun and easy way to help augment their French studies."
Coordinated through the department--a part of the College of Arts and Sciences--the immersion experience seeks to help students interested in developing fluency while remaining in a Mississippi university environment.
Sappington said the environment will allow him to learn the language easier than by relying on classroom and laboratory experiences. He plans to combine his engineering degree and foreign language skills to secure a job with international connections after graduation.
"I would like to be fluent in French one day," the Shackouls Honors College member added.
Raymond said the foreign languages department chose to name the house after a Mississippian to show students they can learn French and succeed in whatever field they chose.
A singer, model and actress, Nanette Workman was born to musical parents in New York City in 1945. She was reared in Jackson, where her performing career began as a teenager.
Currently residing in Quebec, she is particularly famous in Canada, England and France for a string of chart-topping hits and character roles on Quebec television and in English comedies. A performer on Broadway and in New York summer stock theater, she most recently had a role in the 2006 Canadian hit film "Bon Cop, Bad Cop."
Inducted into the Mississippi Musicians Hall of Fame in 2000, Workman additionally has recorded some 16 albums and was a backup singer with the Rolling Stones, John Lennon, Ringo Starr, and George Harrison.
Raymond said Workman plans to visit Mississippi State and the house named in her honor later this year.
NEWS EDITORS/DIRECTORS: For more about the Nanette Workman French House or the immersion program, contact Raymond at 662-325-2396 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Workman's Web site is http://www.nanette.qc.ca/.
For more information about Mississippi State University, see http://www.msstate.edu/.