Amy Munz, Class of 2009
With her affinity for theater and entrepreneurial spirit, Amy Munz is innovating the art form through a fusion of ancient and modern-day concepts. In a 2013 interview, Amy shared how her experience at French American and International, where she began as a kindergartner and graduated with a French Bac diploma, helped inspire her pursuits, including building a company called The New Stage1, the creation of Being Antigone2, and the publication of her first children's book.
Where did you attend university? What was your major?
I graduated in three years from Northwestern University with a B.A. in Communication, receiving Departmental Distinction for Theatre (my major) and being recognized as the top 3% of the class with Summa Cum Laude. My early graduation is thanks to the credits I received for getting the French Baccalaureate through International High School.
When did you become interested in this field of study?
I became interested in acting during the second grade, when I was in an after-school theatre class at French American International School. My parents were encouraged to enroll me at the American Conservatory Theater’s Young Conservatory. I spent a good 10 years at A.C.T., studying in classes and performing in shows at the Zeum Theater in San Francisco.
My understanding of theatre expanded with the help of my high school history and literature courses. I’ll never forget how Mr. Nagy had us regularly analyze major paintings of art history or how Mr. Bessone explained to my class just why Michelangelo’s David was a masterpiece as we strolled around the sculpture during our trip to Italy. This work of analyzing artworks and also texts was the beginning of me understanding the dynamic intersection of Art, Communication, and Society.
How did your experience at French American International School and International High School help cultivate your passions?
Studying multiple languages and being exposed to different cultures cultivated an intuitive understanding of the relationship between communication and perception. It wasn’t just that I built a French vocabulary and studied Italian grammar—it was that I was able to tap into new meanings and understandings by communicating in another language.
My work is strongly influenced by my fascination with how perception and communication shape everyday experiences. It is the foundational reason for why I seek to create art, investigate emotions, and build innovative platforms for human interactions.
1The New Stage™ is a piece of installation art that functions as a 21st century platform for the performing arts. It holds that the role of the theater structure is to provide a place where the citizen can feel the transformative energy of people, landscape, and art. The New Stage integrates state of the art technology, from modular design to internet tools to smart glass video projection technology, establishing a platform that is mobile, networked, and fully equipped for today’s performing arts language.
Jason Nossiter, Class of 2002
Jason Nossiter ‘02 still remembers preparing texts for his first French Bac exam—orale de français—when he was a junior at International High School. "Coming in on a Saturday to practice five texts and knowing that my friends at other schools were all going to the Giants game, or going to chill in the park, while my group of weirdo Frenchies was poring over Victor Hugo's speech against the death penalty so we could be evaluated in a ten minute fire drill by someone we'd never met before: that was a moment of realization for me that what I was doing was entirely different."
A lifer, Jason credits his capacity for open-minded discussion and critical thinking to the rigorous curriculum and “politically engaged” teachers he encountered at French American and International. After completing Le Bac, Jason headed to UC Santa Barbara for his undergraduate studies, where his pursuit of a political science degree included a year spent at Sciénces Po. During his time in France, he witnessed firsthand the political climate surrounding the 2005 referendum on the European constitutional treaty—an experience that culminated in an honors thesis about the vote and its consequences.
Now, as a Vice President at Bernstein Global Wealth Management, Jason says that his internationally-focused education prepared him to understand the ways global events can affect markets. “If you had asked me at a younger age—or if you had asked my math teachers at French American—what I’d be doing now, I doubt I would have thought of this!” he says. "But for me, going into markets, it’s all about cause and effect relationships. Being educated there makes it second nature to have an opinion, and to understand what the issues and consequences of these events are. We really do become global citizens: you take the stuff personally, because it has context."
Melina Dunham, Class of 2013
Melina Dunham‘s international education didn’t end when she graduated from International High School in 2013. Opting to defer her college enrollment, she spent a year traveling from experience to experience—studying German in Berlin in the fall; interning at the Human Rights Center at UC Berkeley; tutoring French American and International students; and attending an art school on the Greek island of Paros before moving to New York to study at Barnard.
During the spring of 2016, Melina was one of six students selected as a fellow for Barnard’s 8th annual Global Symposium. Launched in 2009, the Symposia Series aims to create spaces where young women and women leaders from around the world can meet, network, and engage in dialogue around global women’s issues. This year’s symposium was held in Paris, and Melina believes her French American background gave her an advantage.
As a Student Fellow, Melina worked to develop and run a leadership workshop for high school students both at home in New York and in Paris. Upon learning that she would be working with French students, Melina recommended two Parisian high schools to Symposium organizers. “Having been a correspondent at French American and International High School, I was familiar with the lycées and knew which ones would be good to work with. Not only did those high schools end up at the workshop, but it turned out that one of the girls who attended my workshop had also been a correspondent at French American, a few years after me!” she said. “It was the best coincidence.”After a summer 2016 internship and a trip to Tunisia, where she hosted a conference on "Student Activism in a Budding Democracy" with a program run by Columbia University, Melina returned to Barnard to complete her political science degree. Conditional acceptance to a master’s program at Sciénces Po means she has options when it comes to pursuing her goals and working to empower women worldwide.