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From UIUC to Careers in Foreign Service, Non-Profits, Education, Activism, and Beyond (SLCL, FLAS and MAEUS Alumni Career Panel)

Event Type
Professional Development
School of Literatures, Cultures & Linguistics, European Union Center
Apr 27, 2022   3:00 pm  

Current students and recent alumni are invited to come learn about possible career pathways that foreign language and area/global studies open up. This virtual panel features four UIUC alumni with experience working in foreign service, non-profits, education, community activism, and beyond. Register for the panel here:


  • Bergen Bassett (2010-11 FLAS Fellow and MA in EU Studies, 2012), Political Officer, Office of European Union and Regional Affairs, U.S. Department of State
  • Zoë Foote (MA in Spanish Literatures and Cultures, 2017), Director of Immigration Legal Services and Assistance, University YMCA New American Welcome Center.
  • Mitchell Margolis (2015-16 FLAS Fellow and MA in Urban & Regional Planning, 2016), Economic Empowerment Manager, International Rescue Committee.
  • Jessica Nicholas (PhD in French Linguistics, 2018), French & Spanish Teacher and Foreign Languages Lead Teacher, Bloomington High School.


About the panelists:

Bergen Bassett earned a BA in Government from the College of William and Mary in 2000 and then commissioned as an Army officer.  She served 6 years in the Army as an intelligence officer in Germany, and two tours to Iraq.  She later earned an MA in EU Studies from the University of Illinois in 2012, with a focus on Nordic and security affairs.  She was a Swedish language FLAS fellow 2010-2011.  From 2012-2016, Bergen worked for the Defense Intelligence Agency.  Bergen joined the State department in 2016 and has served in Manila, Philippines, and Mexico City.  She joined the Office of European Union and Regional Affairs (EUR/ERA) as a political officer in November 2021 where she focuses on EU institutions, the Balkans, and EU enlargement.  Her husband, Brian, is also a Foreign Service Officer, and they have four sons.  She has studied Swedish, French, and Spanish. 

Zoë Foote was born and raised in Urbana, Illinois. She has a BA in Creative Writing and Spanish from Knox College, and an MA in Spanish from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Zoë decided to return to Champaign-Urbana to pursue her MA in Spanish here after working in Portland, Oregon for a few years at a personal injury law office. She enjoyed her time as a TA in the Spanish Department helping students discover and grow familiar with the Spanish language. Zoë’s studies as an MA student, and her work as a TA, positioned her well to begin the next stage of her career in a nonprofit setting working with and for local immigrants - a majority of whom are Spanish-speaking.

In 2017, Zoë joined the New American Welcome Center (aka the “NAWC”) at the University YMCA where she is currently the Director of Immigration Legal Services and Assistance. As a Department of Justice partially accredited representative, Zoë leads the NAWC’s provision of immigration legal services, including free immigration legal consultations and low/no-cost representation before the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service. She supervises an incredible team that, in addition to providing direct immigration legal services, carries out free monthly non-immigration-related legal clinics for immigrants, free citizenship classes, and community presentations on a variety of legal issues affecting immigrants.

Mitchell Margolis received his Master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning from UIUC in 2016. As a FLAS fellow in Turkish through EUC, he studied at Humboldt University in Berlin where he took Turkish classes and completed his master's capstone on the Turkish diaspora community in Berlin. He started working with the International Rescue Committee in Oakland as a financial coach in 2017, and became the Economic Empowerment Manager in 2020, overseeing all IRC Oakland’s workforce development and financial education programs. Prior to joining the IRC, he worked as a Job Developer for a veteran-focused nonprofit.

Dr. Jessica Nicholas completed her BA in French/Spanish (2006) and her Master in Teaching (2008) at Western Washington University. After teaching high school Spanish for a couple of years, she moved to Champaign, Illinois, where she earned her Master of Arts (2012) and Doctor of Philosophy (2018) degrees in French Linguistics at UIUC, with a concentration in Romance Linguistics. A sociolinguist by training, her passion for language and social justice led her to a career path in public education, and also to volunteer, and eventually work, with nonprofit organizations that serve immigrant communities. Throughout her time in graduate school, Dr. Nicholas provided language services (translating and interpreting) for French-speakers who had recently arrived in the Champaign area, and worked for a while with the Children’s Program at The Refugee Center. Then, in 2017, she took a course on immigration law and began volunteering, and later working, at The Immigration Project as a Legal Assistant. Meanwhile, Dr. Nicholas joined the faculty of Bloomington High School as a World Language Teacher in 2018. She is now the Lead Teacher for World Languages at Bloomington Public Schools, where she teaches both French and Spanish and organizes courses and student initiatives at the junior high and high school levels. She is also the founder of the low-cost translation company, Translation Pour Vous, LLC, and the host of the podcast, Bonjour, Everybody!. Dr. Nicholas is proud to use her skills to serve one of the most diverse communities in the state of Illinois, both in and out of her day job.

This event is co-organized by the School of Literatures, Cultures, and Linguistics and the European Union Center. 

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