Department of Foreign Languages

1980-1989 Profiles

Kathleen Florence Johnson-Bouillerce Mansour ('80)

Cynthia Rasch Donaldson Varner ('81)

Sabra Russell Clayton ('82)

Ms. Clayton was a Spanish teacher and department head at Antioch High School until her retirement in 2005. She was a participant at the 1997 and 1999 Eisenhower Summer Workshop for Foreign Language Teachers at TTU. She also was a tireless worker for the Tennessee Foreign Language Teaching Association.

We were greatly saddened to learn of her passing in Spring 2007. Her smile could light up a room, and we will miss her as a colleague, strong supporter of foreign languages, and friend.

Luz Astrid Martínez ('82)

Ms. Martinez was born in Cali, Colombia and lived in Haiti before moving to Tennessee where she graduated from Harpeth Hall School for Girls in Nashville. She was one of the first Departmental Assistant's in the Department of Foreign Languages at TTU. She also taught both Spanish and French in a special summer program for junior high school students -- a program that was a huge success.

At last report, Ms. Martinez was the Assistant to the Director of International Purchases for Rica Rondo, S.A. Prior to that she was secretary to the plant manager.

Michael Sorrels ('82)

In addition to his degree in Spanish, Mr. Sorrels also completed a B.S. degree in Nursing from TTU in 1987. At last report he was working at HCA Park West Hospital in Knoxville, Tennessee.

Phuong (Fawn) Truong Fields ('82)

Ms. Fields, a retired French teacher and now a full-time homemaker, is married to Dr. David J. Fields (B.S. in physics, 1982), who, at last report, was a physicist on the Department of Energy Staff, Lawrence Lab. They have two boys and a girl.

She came back to visit us in 2002.

Hilde Phipps ('82)

Ms. Phipps is the Director of Adult Addiction Services at the Helen Ross McNabb Center (HRMC), Inc. in Knoxville where she has been for fifteen years. Previously she was a Program Counselor at the Detoxification Rehabilitation Institute, which merged with HRMC. Her hobbies are gardening, reading, watching football (especially SEC and NFL) and cooking.

Cathy Gernt ('83)

Ms. Gernt is retired from her former position as Spanish teacher at York Institute in Jamestown.

Karl Fisher ('83)

Mr. Fisher is a native of Syracuse, New York, was raised in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and is a graduate of Oak Ridge High School. He spent two summers studying in Venezuela and a year in Seville, Spain. Mr. Fisher received his M.A.T. degree in Spanish from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He was the Language Lab Director at New Mexico State University from 1986 to 1988, and the Assistant Language Lab Director at Vanderbilt University for a number of years. From 1996 he was the Director of the Language Laboratory at the University of the South. Mr. Fisher met Jennifer Huff at Tech and they were married in 1983. Mrs. Fisher finished her B.A. degree at the University of North Carolina in 1985. Mr. and Mrs. Fisher have one son (Billy), 12 years old. The family has moved to Durham, NC where Karl is a Spanish faculty member. He has been a visiting lecturer at NCCU in Durham since 2006 and an adjunct instructor of Spanish at St. Augustine's College since 2009.

In May 2000 Mr. Fisher wrote: "I was undecided about a major when I came to Tech in 1979. After a year of classes with professors Viera and Shettlesworth, I knew that I wanted to major in Spanish. It was a good decision and I've had a great career."

Carolyn Hassler Farley ('83)

Born in Albuquerque, New Mexico and raised in Hot Springs, Arkansas and Carrollton, Georgia, Mrs. Farley graduated from Carrollton H.S. In addition to TTU, she attended Maryville College (TN), West Georgia College (now the State University of West Georgia), and Northern Virginia Community College in Alexandria, Virginia. She studied one month in Madrid, Spain, and participated in a flute master class for a week in Nova Scotia. Other travel has taken her to Mexico, France, and elsewhere in Canada. She has worked as a bilingual secretary in Nashville, a bilingual word processor in Washington, D.C., a gymnastics coach in Virginia, and a professional flutist in Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Maryland. She continues in professional flute jobs and professional fife and drum corps. She has been married to Ken Farley, a fellow musician and computer engineer, since 1993. He has three grown children and one granddaughter and she has two children, ages nine and eleven, who are also musically inclined.

Mrs. Farley and her husband have their own company, "Flutes, Etc.: Woodwind ensembles for music of all styles and occasions" -- Carolyn Farley - Flute, Piccolo and Fife; Ken Farley - Woodwinds.

At last report in September 2016, Mrs. Farley was a semi-retired professional musician living on the Eastern coast of Maryland with her husband and their two dogs. She still performs with the Fifes and Drums of Prince William III around the DC area, with the Dover Symphony Orchestra in Dover, DE, and the Asbury Orchestra in Salisbury, MD. Mrs. Farley is a former member of the Salisbury Symphony Orchestra as well as the Orchestra of the Eastern Shore. Mr. and Mrs. Farley continue to perform in professional productions of musicals.

Prior to becoming a professional musician in 1998, Mrs. Farley taught gymnastics and worked at the ice skating rink while her two children were little. After college graduation, she worked as a bilingual secretary in Nashville, Tn for one year before moving to Washington, DC. In DC, Mrs. Farley worked as a bilingual word processor and secretary at various organizations.

Mr. and Mrs. Farley like to stay active through biking, hiking with their dogs, and kayaking. Mr. and Mrs. Farley also love being grandparents.

Mrs. Farley reflected on her major: "Majoring in Spanish has helped me communicate with people all over the DC area. I used it when I taught Zumba in northern Virginia. Traveling abroad to Spain one summer helped my fluency. My husband (who grew up in Paris and speaks French) and I have traveled three times to France and enjoyed conversing with local people."

Janie Cooper Finch ('84)

Mrs. Finch was born and raised in Cookeville and Algood and is a graduate of Putnam County Senior High School (now Cookeville H.S.). She studied French for five years in junior and senior high school and took one year of German along with her French major at TTU. As president of RUTAHSA Adventures, Inc., which sponsors trips to Central and South America, she has traveled to Guatemala, the Galapagos Islands, mainland Ecuador, Perú, Bolivia, Honduras, and Venezuela. Mrs. Finch, who has a B.S. in geology in addition to her B.A. in French, has also completed coursework for an M.A. in English. She also works as a horticulturist at a local nursery and as a technical editor for geologists. She is married to retired geology professor Richard Finch. Since his retirement from TTU in June 2000, Mr. and Mrs. Finch have begun expanding Rutahsa's trip offerings. Their groups enjoyed Nicaragua/Honduras and Guatemala in Summer 2000 and for 2001 they had guided trips to Bolivia/Perú in February 2001 and are planning Guatemala for May. They are also working for permission to lead a trip to Cuba, and they provide travel services for trips to Venezuela and Ecuador.

In October 2000 Mrs. Finch wrote: "I am indebted to Tech's Foreign Language Department for expanding my knowledge and love of languages and for giving me the opportunity to work with international students and learn about their cultures, their values, and about the challenges of learning English. I'm especially grateful to Dr. Campana for his fine German classes and for his constant patience, kindness, and wise advice. And I thank Drs. Evans, Kintz, Jones, and Saint-Léon for their sometimes fun, sometimes grueling, but always enlightening classes and the linguistic challenges they provided me. Even though I haven't "used" my French degree in a career (except for occasional translations of geologic reports), my education in the Foreign Language Department has been invaluable in giving me a lifelong love of other cultures and languages, (I'm presently learning Spanish), a burning desire to travel as much as possible, and a constant reminder of the importance of being a citizen of the world. I'm proud to be an alumna of Tech's Foreign Language Department."

And we are equally proud of your accomplishments, Janie!

Ila Ruth Johnson Wilson ('84)

Opal Inez Moffett Crosby ('84)

Michael Bell ('85)

After receiving his B.S. degree from TTU, Mr. Bell completed the M.Ed. degree at Vanderbilt University. Prior to his present position Mr. Bell was a Spanish teacher at Father Ryan H.S. in Nashville and then Director of Development and Community Relations at Alive Hospice, Inc. in Nashville. He is now the Vice-President for Development and Community Relations, The Hospice of the Florida Suncoast.

Dorothea Lafleur Pencilla ('85)

While at TTU Ms. Pencilla was one of the stars of the Women's Varsity Volleyball Team. Her plan for the future was to work in the travel industry in her native Bahamas. Thus the German major.

Elizabeth Casteel ('85)

Ms. Casteel completed her J.D. degree at the Memphis State University (now University of Memphis) Law School. At last contact she was a Senior Attorney, Litigation, for Federal Express Corporation.

Colleen Virginia Dixon Lewis ('86)

Mrs. Lewis earned two degrees from T.T.U.: a B.A. in Spanish, and a B.S. in Business Administration with a major in Accounting. Colleen is married to Scott Lewis, who is originally from Pennsylvania. She and her husband are co-owners of their own business, Uniquely Yurs Woodworking, Inc.

1LT Michael Rautter, USAR ('86)

Lt. Rautter was born in Augsburg, Germany and grew up in Munich. He is a graduate of Fort Meade, Maryland H.S. After leaving TTU he studied at Boston University and at the University of Colorado, Boulder. Lt. Rautter also completed the intensive course in Russian at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey. His travels have taken him to the Middle East, Bosnia-Hercegovina, and Africa. Since his commissioning through TTU's ROTC Program as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Reserves in June 1986, Lt. Rautter has served in the U.S. Army as a Russian and German linguist. Since 1999, he has also had a civilian occupation as a Financial Mortgage Consultant. Lt. Rautter and his wife, Kersten, and children reside in Colorado Springs. In Fall 2000 they stopped by for a visit.

Lt. Rautter has been awarded a number of decorations, service medals, and badges, among them: Army Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, Army Achievement Medal (2), Army Good Conduct Medal (4), National Defense Service Medal, Southwest Asia Service Medal, Kuwait Liberation Medal, NATO Medal, Greek Parachutist Badge, German Parachutist Badge, and several others.

In 1997, commenting on the status of foreign languages in the schools Lt. Rautter wrote: "The demand and need for good linguists is growing more and more each day. I see it almost every day in the field that I am presently experiencing."

Michael Rautter and family Fall 2000 Michael wrote: "The advances made since graduating in 1986 in the Department of Foreign Languages are encouraging. Today's international positioning / posturing must be incorporated in our upper educational programs. At the time I had double majored with extreme prejudice. Back then I had known the importance of diversifying my potential. Initially double majoring was not as much as an assistance. However, language dynamics and studying techniques did play an important role with my first career field. Today my success can be credited to my ability to diversify and use the volume of instruction from computer science, history, ROTC, and foreign-language courses I had taken. A mixture, like the current degree in World Cultures and Business, would have been great during my school years. All students should be given the opportunity to study languages also directed to world economics, e.g., Chinese/Arabic/Russian. Hindsight is king."

Amy Laurie Puckett Corley ('86)

Mrs. Corley is a native of Smithville, TN and a graduate of DeKalb County High School in Smithville. She came to TTU from Agnes Scott College in Georgia. She has taught Spanish at DeKalb Co. H.S. as well as at Boyd Christian School in McMinnville, and she is currently the Spanish teacher at Cannon Co. H.S. in Woodbury. She and her husband, Michael, have two sons.

Corinna Nelson Kafai ('87)

Teresa Cassetty Petersen ('87)

Mrs. Petersen is a graduate of Jackson County High School in Gainesboro, TN. She began her career at TTU as an engineering major and then changed to French. Shortly after receiving her B.A. in French at TTU Mrs. Petersen and her husband, Erik, spent a year in Australia on the Rotary International Fellowship she was awarded in her senior year. While in Australia, she completed a master's degree in French history with a specialty in the French Third Republic. Their first child, Erik II, was in April of 1989. In 1990 Mrs. Petersen began teaching French and world history at Westwood Junior High School in Manchester. Their second child, Jacqueline, was born in May 1991, and they have a third child, Anna.

Mrs. Petersen has taken groups of her WJHS students to France and they were at Normandy during the celebration of the 50th anniversary of D-Day. Mr. Petersen, a mechanical engineer, returned to school in 1996 for a degree in computer programming at MTSU. Mrs. Petersen's plans include doctoral study; she has already earned an M.A. degree.

In February 1996 she wrote: "Thanks for keeping me up to date on TTU. Although I am not there often, I have nothing but fond memories of my time in the foreign language department there."

In 2000 she wrote that she and her family were planning to spend a year in France.

Billiesue Gingrich Potter ('87)

Mrs. Potter is a Registered Sales Assistant for Nations Securities (now NASD). She is married to Stephen Potter.

Lisa Gunter Geist ('88)

Ms. Geist is a police officer and a homemaker.

Nan Hill Hawkins ('88)

Mrs. Hawkins and her husband, Steve (also a TTU graduate), have two children: Katie Lynn (born 1990) and Markie Beth (born 1996). Business opportunities brought them back to Cookeville and they run a business here.

Diane S. Breidert ('89)

In addition to the B.S. in Secondary Education-Spanish, Ms. Breidert earned an M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction from TTU. We were saddened to learn that she passed away.

Anna-Maria Best Compolmi ('89)

Ms. Compolmi is a graduate of Dickson County High School and came to us on a Departmental Assistant Award. She received her first teaching job at J.O. Johnson H.S. in Huntsville, Alabama in Fall 1990. The following year she began teaching a FLES (Foreign Language in the Elementary School) French program at the Academy of Science and Foreign Languages (a magnet school), a post she held until the end of 1994. She then moved to Paris and occupied her time with tour groups and some English courses at Tour Montparnasse. More recently she was pursuing a graduate degree in French.

In 1995 Ms. Compolmi wrote that, while she was a student here she thought the department was too small and she questioned whether she would be prepared to teach French upon graduation. "In retrospect, however, I feel that because our department was so small I actually received a better education. I actually saw my advisor, he knew my name and helped me with my problems. . . . Not only was my advisor attentive to my needs, but also every other language teacher under whom I studied. For this rare quality the Foreign Language Department has a right to be proud and to feel that it has succeeded in successfully preparing its graduates. . . . I am very grateful for my education at TTU."

Valerie Wagner Brutti ('89)

Mrs. Brutti worked for Atlanta-based Imaje Ink Jet Printing Corporation as the president's assistant and the distribution coordinator for the U.S. and Latin America. In 1995 the company had ten distributors in the U.S. and twelve in Latin America and had expanded into El Salvador and Trinidad. Mrs. Brutti was in charge of the distribution of marketing and reference information, quotes, completed samples, accounting information and commission calculations. She was also in charge of the company's newsletter, in which was printed the photo at the left. After that she worked for a software company for a year in the Latin American office, until cutbacks caused the closure of that office. Since early 1998 Mrs. Brutti has also been a representative for Mary Kay Cosmetics. She is now Sales Director with that company. At the end of January 2002 she and her husband welcomed into the world their first child, Sophia Elizabeth.