Career Forum

Modern Languages and Literatures Career Forum 2021

Thursday, November 11, 2021

5:30 pm in Combs 237.

We hope you can join us for a discussion with UMW graduates about how they utilized their language skills after graduation.


Marty Abbott’s career began in Fairfax County Public Schools (VA) where she was a language teacher, foreign language coordinator, and Director of High School Instruction. She has served on national committees to develop student standards, beginning teacher standards, and performance assessments in world languages. She was President of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) in 2003 and became its Director of Education in 2004 and Executive Director in 2011 serving in that capacity until 2018. Under her leadership, ACTFL created the Center for Assessment, Research and Development and launched the public awareness campaign, Lead with Languages. She recently served as a commissioner for the American Academy of Arts and Sciences national report America’s Languages: Investing in Language Education in the 21st Century and in 2016 was appointed by President Obama to serve a four-year term on the National Security Education Board. Marty was appointed to the University of Mary Washington Board of Visitors by Virginia Governor Ralph Northam where she is serving a four-year term until 2022. She holds her B.A. degree in Spanish with a minor in Latin from the University of Mary Washington and a Master’s Degree in Spanish Linguistics from Georgetown University.


My name is Amy Pepkin and I graduated from UMW in 2019 with a BA in Spanish and in 2020 with an M.Ed.  I am currently in my second year of teaching Spanish at Courtland High School.

I am grateful for my time at UMW and the opportunities I had, thanks to the faculty in the World Language and Education department.


My name is Anushah Hassan and I graduated from UMW in 2020 with a major in Bus Admin: Accounting and a Minor in Arabic Studies.

I am currently working as a Federal Auditor for KPMG, a public accounting firm.

During my years at UMW, I served as the President of the Arab Culture Club in 2020, President of Eagle Bhangra, and a tutor with Academic Services.


Mackenzie Poust graduated from the University of Mary Washington with a degree in Religious Studies and Middle Eastern Studies, and she completed Arabic through the Advanced Level.

After graduating, she lived in Amman, Jordan, where she worked as a teacher in an international private school.

Currently, she is a graduate student at Georgetown University, pursuing a Master of Arts in Arab Studies.


My name is Sarah Patterson and I graduated from UMW in 2021 with a BA in Spanish. I am currently obtaining my masters in elementary education. I absolutely loved my time in the Spanish program. The faculty were amazing and made a huge impact on my life.


I graduated from UMW in 2018 with a German degree. During the height of the pandemic, when people were getting laid off, it was my background in language that helped me to find a career: teaching German! I now teach German to high school students in Prince William County and love it. I find myself challenged, continuously learning, and connecting with young individuals every day. Teaching allows me to foster cultural awareness, language learning, and personal growth in my students. Plus, it opens a lot more doors: extracurricular activities, events, and all of the things that made school fun for us as students are now things that I can make great as a sponsor.


Shirley Martey Hargis brings over a decade of experience in China and Taiwan’s foreign relations and domestic politics. Hargis uses her years living on both sides of the Taiwan Strait, professional-level proficiency in Chinese, native fluency in three African languages, and regional versatility (Russia, Latin America, and Africa in China affairs) to provide distinctive perspectives about the complex political, economic, security, technology, and social trends that impact the US and global affairs.

Hargis is an affiliated expert, serving as lead China strategist for CRDF Global’s China programming. She is a Non-Resident Fellow at Taipei-based Taiwan NextGen Foundation. Hargis guest-hosted POLITICO’s China Watcher (‘Xi defangs the Wolf Warrior’) and contributor to the newsletter. Among her published works, she has also contributed to a chapter about China-Africa Relations in China-Africa relationship in Politics & Society in Contemporary China Edition 2 by Dr. Elizabeth Larus. She provided support to the IC, DOD, and federal law enforcement communities to protect national security. Earlier in Hargis’ career, she produced political, economic, and security-related risk assessments to domestic and international consulting firms, including projects for the DOS, defense agencies, and academic institutions.

Prior to her current role, she spearheaded CRDF Global’s new China programs, serving as point of contact and leading a team to provide solutions to clients about PRC dual-use technology transfer and emerging technologies. Her leadership led to the tripling of funding for the Emerging Tech portfolio.

Hargis is a National Security Fellow at the Truman National Security’s Washington DC Chapter, a member of the American Association for Chinese Studies, the Black China Caucus, Black Professionals in International Affairs, and Foreign Policy for America.