Alec Jessar: French Studies

Senior Alec Jessar is overflowing with passion. Whether talking about a piece of francophone literature or his work with the Student Association for the Advancement of Refugees (SAFAR), it is clear that his time at Wake Forest has been one of purpose. As a French Studies major and local activist, his academic endeavors and personal passions have further allowed him to combine both a local and global perspective into his passion for social justice.

 Through his work with SAFAR and living in Global Village, which is the living community he has been a part of for the past year, Jessar has used his studies in French as a starting point to gain a deep understanding of his position in the world. 

“I took a modern French class last semester, which was about how people speak French in France currently, so slang and that kind of stuff,” Jessar said. “It showed me how something as seemingly academic like linguistics or grammar can actually be very political. We talked about how ways of speaking are connected to power, which is further connected to global power systems.” 

While talking about his work in social justice, Jessar acknowledged how both Wake Forest and Winston-Salem are microcosms for many large-scale, international issues.

Although Jessar incorporates what he learns in class with his volunteerism, he said he often finds himself prioritizing his social justice work. Along with SAFAR, Jessar works on campus with the Student Movement for Immigration Justice, Pro Humanitate Institute’s Social Justice Incubator and off campus with the food co-op SHARE, Mi Casa and Hate Out of Winston. 

As a senior, Jessar said he is still trying to find a balance. 

 “This semester I’ve also realized that you can’t do that 100 percent because then you get behind on your school work, and then you get stressed,” Jessar said. “You can’t pour from an empty glass. So, you have to take care of the things that allow you to stay here.” 

Along with his French major, Jessar also has two minors in Latin American studies and English, both of these coming to highlight his global perspective. Jessar specifically emphasized his appreciation for English classes such as Chicano Literature and African-American Poetry. 

Ultimately, Jessar’s presence in the French department has been marked by his personal interactions with the faculty members. 

 “I have been privileged to have [Jessar] as a student, not because he was a great student, but because he has demonstrated so often a real humanity, by caring and giving so much of his time for others whose life circumstances are challenging,” Professor Stephanie Pellet said. “A few times, he’s invited me to participate to in events to promote or support important human rights causes, and when [Jessar] invites me, I can only say yes. I know that whatever he does in life will improve the lives of those around him.”