For her decades of speaking at regional alumni events, Emerita Professor of French Monique Saigal is the recipient of the 2013 Faculty Alumni Service Award. This is the second year the award has been given by the Pomona College Alumni Association Board in recognition of "exemplary service to the alumni association over a period of years." The award was presented to Saigal at the Alumni Board's dinner for new faculty in February.
While Saigal retired from Pomona in 2012, her commitment to the Alumni Association continues. During the past five years, she has spoken at alumni events in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Sacramento, Los Angeles, San Diego, Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C. During Alumni Weekend, she is always available to meet with her former students and, last year, she signed copies of her book, French Heroines, 1941-1945: Courage, Strength and Ingenuity.
Saigal often speaks on the subject of this book, the heroines of the French resistance during World War II, as well as her own experience as a "hidden child" who lived with an adoptive family in southern France for eight years during the war.
"Pomona students are so warm, welcoming and appreciative; it is a true pleasure to know them," says Saigal. "So when I see Pomona alumni and get a chance to speak to them about my life as a hidden Jewish child raised Catholic for eight years or about the French women who fought the Nazis in extraordinary ways, I just love it!" During her speech at the Alumni Association new faculty dinner in February, she talked about her relationships with some of the students she taught during her 45 years at Pomona College. Anna Krasnovsky-Quinard '97 translated French Heroines, which was written in French and first published in France, into English. She often works with Kris Fossum '76, associate dean for academic affairs. She taught French to Joanna Hardin '95, associate professor of mathematics, and has even taught children of her former students.
Her contacts often lead to new discoveries and connections. Lorelei Curtin '13 took a French course from Saigal in 2009 and told her about her great-grandparents, Andre and Magda Trocme, who saved 3,500 Jews in France during WWII. Saigal will host Curtin's grandmother, the daughter of the Trocmes, when she attends Curtin's graduation in May.
Even in retirement, she meets new students by dining at the French table in Oldenborg and meeting with Study Abroad students while in France. "Pomona alumni form a chain with themselves and the faculty, making contacts for the years to come," says Saigal.
"Monique is an amazing advocate for Pomona College and is always eager to assist us by reaching out to our alumni throughout the world," says Nancy Treser-Osgood, director of Alumni Relations.
Saigal taught at Pomona for 45 years. She began teaching both French and Spanish, but moved toward a focus on French. Courses she particularly enjoyed teaching included Paris: Myth and Reality, Contemporary French Film, and Literary Analysis. In addition to French Heroines, she wrote Writing: A Link Between Mother and Daughter in the Works of Jeanne Hyvrard, Chantal Chawaf and Annie Ernaux in 2000. Saigal won the Wig Distinguished Professorship Award for Excellence in Teaching in 1997 and the Sontag Fellowship from 2003 to 2008, which allowed her to hire students to work on translating French Heroines. She was also the recipient of National Endowment for the Humanities summer grants in 1993 and 1997.