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Student Spotlight

We enjoy putting a spotlight on our outstanding students. If you'd like to nominate a student to be profiled, please contact us.

Undergraduate Student Spotlight 


Andrea Gerdes discovered a love for French while in middle school. Over the years, she pursued study of the language and today she’s a junior with a double major in French and finance. This fall, Gerdes will continue her studies in Lille, France, where her classes will be taught in French at the Université Lille III.

“I first started studying French in middle school because I thought it was a beautiful language and my godmother, who was a high school French teacher, encouraged me to do so. I fell in love with it and have continued study ever since,” said Gerdes, who often immerses herself in the language through French films, music and books.

“As faculty, our deepest satisfaction derives from teaching bright, inquisitive students. Andrea always meets you more than half way,” said Susan Stakel, associate professor of French in the department of languages and literatures.

“She wants to make sure she understands, she thinks deeply about things, she can put two and two together and see that there is four, but also implications beyond four. And to everything she does she brings an amazing joie de vivre, joie d’apprendre.”

“I love the DU French program,” Gerdes said. “I’m taking classes with students and professors who love French as much as I do. We get to discuss interesting topics all in French and learn the language as we go.”

Gerdes has worked as a French tutor in the University’s Center for World Languages and Cultures. The experience has improved her own understanding of French grammar and has enabled her to learn more about other languages and cultures from the other tutors.

When she’s not studying and tutoring French at DU, Gerdes can be found swimming with eels in her job as a mermaid at the Denver Aquarium.

“It’s tons of fun,” said Gerdes, who grew up in Golden. “We perform shows underwater that teach kids about recycling and then we hop out of the tank to meet and greet and take pictures with the kids. I get to swim with a ton of cool animals such as sea turtles, nurse sharks, stingrays and eels.”

Two years ago, Gerdes and her family travelled to France, visiting the Normandy beaches, Mont Saint-Michel, Paris, Versailles, the Loire valley and Nice. “It was great to see so many different parts of the country and to experience all of the things I had learned about,” she said.

Having fallen in love with both the language and the country, Gerdes hopes to combine both of her degrees to someday work in finance in France or possibly in a Swiss bank.

Archived Student Stories (pdf format)

Gabe Rusk — June 2014
Philosophy and Religious Studies Help Form Student's Career Path
Julia Seldin — May 2014
Senior Finds Niche in Gender and Women's Studies
Lauren Rice — April 2014

Student Examines Cases of Wiretapping
Sophie Fritz — March 2014

Internship Confirms Student's Interest in Law
Taylor Lobato — February 2014

Student Makes Case at Colorado Supreme Court for Adequate Education Funding
Brian Lupo — January 2014

Creative Writing Student Finds Inspiration in Dr. Seuss
Mikaela Fortune - December 2013

Student Flourishes in Studio Art Program
Jason Gallardo — November 2013
Undergrad Finds His Niche in Political Science
Cheyenne Michaels — October 2013

Theatre Major Uses Marketing Skills to Pull in Audiences
Madeline Nash — September 2013
Student Seeks to be a Well-Rounded Grad 
Megan Marshall — August 2013
Student Makes Mark on Campus Sustainability
Wendy Low — July 2013

Student Advocate Says "Never Again!" 

Our archives go back to May 2010. If you'd like to see a story that's not listed here, please contact us.