Alumni Spotlight

Apollonia Galvan ’12
Graduate Student
UCLA School of Theater, Film, and Television

Majors: English, French

Minor: Film Studies

Activities: I mainly participated in Sigma Tau Delta, the English honor society, and later participated in the Russian Club while it was present on campus. Other than these clubs, I worked part-time as a French tutor for four years, worked as a staff writer on the Quaker Campus for a semester, and participated in an internship and volunteer work.

What first attracted you to Whittier College? As I'm sure most Whittier students have claimed, I loved the fact that I wasn't going to be a number. Professors would actually be able to recognize me and call me by name. They would remember me not by my ID number but by my work and my contributions in class. I believe many students who are applying to college forget or greatly undervalue this aspect. It's so important for students to create and develop long-lasting rapports with their professors. I knew Whittier College provided an environment that would offer me this one of a kind opportunity. Additionally, I always wanted to attend a small, liberal arts college, so Whittier College truly was the perfect fit.

Why did you choose French to be one of your majors? I had already been studying French for four solid years in high school, and with each succeeding year, I grew more enamored with the language and French culture. After visiting Paris during my high school years, I grew more dedicated to learning as much as I could about a culture that’s so different from my own (i.e. its literature, its art, its film, its customs, etc.) After graduating high school, I knew I didn't want to ever lose the progress I had made in learning a third language (I was already a native Spanish speaker) and I loved the challenge that the French language offered me, so I decided that French would be my second major and English my primary major.

Describe your experience at Whittier College. What is your favorite memory? Overall, my experience at Whittier College was really awesome and monumental in forming who and where I am today. If I had to choose one favorite memory, it would have to be taking my first English course with professor pAddy. During my second semester as a sophomore, I enrolled in his Contemporary British Literature class. Everyone I knew told me that you cannot graduate from Whittier without taking a course with pAddy, and I definitely wasn't planning on missing out! I love what an eccentric ball of energy he is! He is both brilliant and absolutely fun to have as a professor. I learned so much in his classes. I took two other courses with him later that transcended beyond just British literature and literary theory. I learned a lot about myself, my passions, life, and the world. He challenged me to not just learn the material, but to question it, participate in it, and respond to it with my own unique ideas and perspectives. I will always cherish my memories of his classes as well as his advice to me when I was deciding on which graduate school to attend. 

Did you intern or study aboard while at Whittier College? Where, and what was that experience like? Although I didn't get the chance to study abroad, I did work as an events intern for the Los Angeles Film Festival during the summer of 2011. During that time, I worked for Film Independent (the premier producer of the LA Film Fest), a non-profit arts organization geared towards promoting the voices and narratives of independent filmmakers. I really loved the experience because I was able to not only be hands-on in setting up and managing the flow of several film premieres, galas, and parties, but also I was able to converse with festival-featured filmmakers, sponsors, and members of the film press. I even had the opportunity to watch some of the independent films that premiered at the festival (some foreign and some domestic). The Los Angeles Film Festival felt very much like a microcosm, where everyone from around the globe was able to share their narratives with the central goal of bringing everyone together through the power and beauty of film. My involvement at the LA Film Festival not only reaffirmed my love for cinema, but also strengthened my career choice of working in the independent film sector.

What was your first job after Whittier? What are you currently up to? How has your Whittier education benefited you professionally? After I graduated from Whittier College, I went straight into graduate school at UCLA to pursue my M.A. in Cinema and Media Studies. In addition to going to grad school full-time, I am working part-time as a program assistant for the UCLA Center for 17th and 18th Century Studies. Whittier College greatly prepared me for not only the workload that grad school demands but also offered me a rich knowledge of various disciplines. I believe this strong interdisciplinary background will provide me with the ability to succeed in grad school as well as in my professional career. 

What advice would you offer students interested in majoring in French? My main advice is to never give up and practice, practice, practice! You may feel overwhelmed, even frustrated at times when learning a new language, but know that it will pay off in the end. You have to keep practicing and keep an open mind so that you can learn as much as you can. The struggle is only temporary. And remember, your world grows and expands a little more each day the more you learn how to communicate with a wide array of people. As my grandmother always tells me, "Una persona que habla dos idiomas vale por dos." (A person who speaks two languages is worth twice as much.) 

What advice would you give to future French students when they graduate? I would say to keep practicing your French so you don't lose it. Continue to take French courses and go abroad to France. I, too, am planning on taking graduate courses in French and visiting Paris again in the near future. Also, I would advise future alumni to learn different languages in addition to French, possibly other Romantic languages such as Spanish, Portuguese, and Italian, etc. for your own growth as a worldly individual and if you plan to go into doctoral/ post-graduate work in French. Lastly, and most importantly, I would say to develop and value your relationship with your French professors/faculty mentors. Mine were Professors Marie-Magdeleine Chirol and Andy Wallis. They are a wealth of information and genuinely want to foster your interests and help you achieve your goals. My life as a French aficionado and graduate film student would not have been possible without guidance and push from both of them. They are the best! Merci beaucoup! :)  

Finish this sentence: I am a ‘Poet for Life’ because… I strive to be a lifetime learner and always be open to new experiences. *Fear the Poet!*

-Are you a graduate of the Film Studies program and want to share your story? Contact the Office of Communications at