Elise-Joelle Denoulet, 24, came to the United States for the first time as a study abroad exchange student in Georgia. When the year ended, she returned to her home in Lille, France.
“I really wanted to go back to the South, which surprises most people,” she said, “but I really like the atmosphere and kindness of people around here, and I also love that Oxford is a small-town, close-knit community.”
Denoulet returned to the American South for graduate studies. She applied to several schools during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the University of Mississippi School of Journalism and New Media awarded her an assistantship that allowed Denoulet to earn her Master of Arts in Journalism. She is just one of the school’s 2022 graduates who shared her Journey to Commencement.
“I have loved these past two years,” she said. “I have tried to be as close to the international community as I could, trying to build community. In terms of classes, I have tried to take as many videography and documentary courses as I could, since I love filming.
“I got to work on so many projects, and experience the most random things, ranging from petting a baby goat to jumping on a trampoline with several kids, to visiting a catfish farm. This is what makes me love what I do, and I cannot wait to work on many more projects.”
Denoulet’s love of storytelling led her to apply for a Master of Fine Arts in Documentary Expression with UM’s Southern Studies department.
“That’s my first option so far, but I also intend on applying to jobs in documentary filmmaking as well as video journalism all around the world, especially in Northern Africa or in the Middle East, so I can make use of my Arabic and learn some more,” she said.
Michael Fagans, assistant professor of journalism, has worked closely with Denoulet on many projects.
“Elise is willing to do the little things and the big things that make stories successful,” he said. “When my TV Documentary class was covering the illegal drug problem in Southeast Mississippi, she was willing to drive back down to cover a drug program graduation ceremony that was critical for the story.”
Fagans describes her as friendly, confident, quietly talented, a hard worker, and a student that receives criticism and applies suggestions to make her storytelling more effective.
“I have been fortunate to have taught her in two classes,” he said, “and I am on her professional project committee that she successfully presented and defended earlier this week. She immersed herself in the catfish industry in our state, interviewed some noted authorities, traveled around the Delta and Northern Mississippi, and created an enjoyable and informative documentary film. I am looking forward to seeing what she accomplishes in the Southern Studies program and then later in our field.”
Denoulet said being an international student brings an additional level of difficulty compared to what American students might experience.
“For instance, while my classmates had to write a 10-page essay, I had to write a 10-page essay in my second language,” she said. “Everything is a little more challenging, but also so rewarding.”
During her time at Ole Miss, she audited language classes. She refreshed her Spanish and began learning Arabic.
Her advice to students: “College only lasts a few years. Take advantage of that time. As a French student, I can tell you there are so many more opportunities I got while studying here than I would have had in France, in terms of student life, academics, and work opportunities.
“Attend events, get involved on campus, and do your best work in class. Getting yourself noticed by teachers or faculty will bring you rewarding opportunities.”
This story was written by LaReeca Rucker.