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French and cultural area studies alumna uses skills to teach cultural competency across diverse sectors

Kennedy Schultz '94

Kennedy Schultz ’91 loved that The College of Wooster had a community that was both diverse and tight knit. Coming from a large high school, the first thing she noticed while touring campus was that everyone seemed to know each other, all creating a community centered around learning in collaboration with each other. In her career as an intercultural competence trainer, Schultz relies on many of the skills she learned at Wooster as she helps groups foster their own diverse and inclusive communities in a globalized world.

During her time at Wooster, Schultz completed her degree with majors in French and cultural area studies. The cultural area studies program gave students interdisciplinary approaches to learning about a variety of societies and cultures in our globalizing world through the study of modern history, politics, economics, and languages. Her majors gave Schultz the skills and knowledge to understand cultures other than her own and work with and alongside people from multicultural communities.  

The opportunity to study abroad in Strasbourg, France, gave her an even more hands-on way to approach cultural differences in an increasingly connected world. “The things that I learned through the interdisciplinary nature of the courses and Wooster’s focus on liberal arts, a study abroad experience, and my own journey to learning about cultural differences was really valuable,” Schultz explained. “In the work I’m doing now, it is essential to identify bridges to differing perspectives to engage more effectively in our diverse communities. 

After attending graduate school and receiving a doctorate in French literature, Schultz worked to teach French to a variety of age groups, beginning as a college professor before moving towards childhood language education. She started her own business in 2010, developing world language curricula for school-aged children, while also serving as a language teacher at a local school. “Through that experience, I came to understand that no matter what language you’re speaking or what cultural group you’re working with, there are patterns in how we communicate and understand each other,” she said.  

Schultz realized that she didn’t want to focus solely on language learning, but also how to bridge cultural differences with respect and understanding. She founded KMS Intercultural Education, a consultancy firm that helps businesses, schools, and nonprofits develop their skills in navigating cultural differences in our increasingly connected and diverse world. Whether administering cultural competency assessments for corporate clients, developing a new workshop, or helping teachers who work with multicultural classrooms, Schultz believes that each new project allows her clients to build intercultural skills but also allows her to better understand other people and their experiences. “It’s the best of both worlds!” Schultz said. “I get to keep learning and help others learn new things.” 

Schultz’s experience at Wooster sticks with her to this day—many of the skills that she uses each day in her job are skills that she honed as an undergraduate. Her senior Independent Study project, for example, gave her a chance to dive deeply into a topic that interested her, producing a thesis on the subtle political messaging of popular children’s books. Besides that, the project also taught her to plan a research product, find resources, and structure an argument, which she says were extremely helpful as she made the transition to graduate school.  “And those same concepts of being able to make those connections in a cogent argument became vital later, working in cultural education,” Schultz said.

Posted in Alumni, Magazine on July 3, 2024.


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French and cultural area studies alumna uses skills to teach cultural competency across diverse sectors


Related Areas of Study

Global & International Studies

Economics, history, and political science courses with a global and international perspective

Major

French & Francophone Studies

French language, literature and culture with study abroad and outside-the-classroom immersion opportunites

Major Minor

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