February 20, 2019
2012 graduate Sarah Khaddage has successfully merged her love of French and biology into her academic and professional goals. Now a VCU PharmD candidate, Khaddage credits much of her success to the language skills and study abroad experience she gained through the School of World Studies.
Drawn to VCU for its strong global education programs, Khaddage entered college assuming she’d have to pick studying science over language. However, after going abroad to France, Khaddage decided to double major in French and biology. She not only missed “how happy [she] was studying French” but felt she “needed to keep using both sides of the brain.”
Khaddage realized she did not have to choose between disciplines and instead focused on ways to combine the two in her career. Once she was fully fluent in French, Khaddage was able to obtain an advanced degree in clinical trial management from a university in Lyon, France.
The skills Khaddage gained through the School of World Studies have given her a competitive edge in the job market. Being bilingual has proven very attractive to employers; many pharmaceutical companies place greater importance on linguistic ability over technical skills since language acquisition is considered more difficult. Employers also perceived Khaddage’s language skills and experience abroad as proof she would take initiative to learn new things and think creatively.
Furthermore, Khaddage’s education at the School of World Studies has given her more than linguistic fluency but also cultural fluency vital to her work. Pharmaceutical marketing requires this skillset because different diets, values and climates across the globe effect how drugs perform in the real world. Cultural fluency makes it possible for clinicians to create effective guidelines that will work outside laboratory trials.
Khaddage is on track to complete her PharmD program in 2022 and plans to work internationally again, possibly through research or fellowships abroad. She credits the School of World Studies with helping her “become a ‘yes person’” through the variety of opportunities offered inside and outside the classroom such as her internship with the French Film Festival. She encourages current students to pursue their passions and recognize there is no “fixed timeline” or path to follow in crafting the ideal career.