This month, we have the great honor of shining our Spotlight onto an incredible alumna, hailing from the days of the American College of Paris. Dr. Valerie Johnson Lofland (’70)
, originally from Mount Vernon, New York, has spent 25 years as a career officer in the Air Force living and traveling all over the United States, as well as the world.
In recollecting about her flight to ACP (now AUP), Valerie explains:Fortunately in 1967, I saw a small poster in our high school guidance office about AUP, it caught my eye and it made me very curious because at the time I wanted to go to college and become a French teacher. Curiously, it was my mother who pushed me to go to Paris, as I also was accepted to other US colleges with excellent programs in French studies, but she said I would learn a lot more French in Paris – she was right. I boarded a plane in August 1968, and arrived in Paris during a very tumultuous time with tremendous excitement in the air.
After arriving at AUP, Valerie discovered that, although the student body only consisted of about 200 students, the population was extremely diverse and offered the opportunity to interact with fellow students from a wide-range of backgrounds. Furthermore, the city itself had quite a prevailing impact on her that would ultimately influence her personal course:Living in Paris changed my life more than I knew at that time. It made me a different person and much more worldly. When I returned to the USA to complete my BA and MA studies in New York, I became restless and wanted to see more of the world. Eventually, this made me pursue a career as an officer in the United States Air Force where I was immersed in international affairs positions, mostly in Europe, dealing with NATO enlargement and national security issues. It was a perfect fit!
In continuing to reflect on AUP as a launching pad for her later professional and educational pursuits, Valerie suggests:Each subsequent degree that I earned made me think differently about the world so I believe it’s important to take school seriously and, if you can, attend graduate school. AUP gave me a global focus which was so important. The Air Force helped me to earn a PhD in Higher Education Administration and this terminal degree was beneficial in allowing me to pursue my second career as a teacher.
Following her retirement from the Air Force in 2003, Valerie was a fellow at Harvard University’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs
from 2003 – 2004, which allowed her “a wonderful opportunity to reflect and conduct research.” After this experience, Valerie decided to work, once again, for the Department of Defense in Germany as a civilian. She elaborates:This time, I focused more deeply on NATO enlargement, assisting countries such as Albania and Croatia with their accession plans to join the Alliance, which they did in 2009. I also was involved with NATO Partnership for Peace activities. I found this work very rewarding.
Currently, Valerie is living in Connecticut and working as the Department Chair for the Air Force Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps program (ROTC)
at Naugatuck High School. She describes their studies s as a “blend of aviation science, global affairs, leadership and citizenship activities.” Further, she states, “As a teacher, I am free in the summer months, and this allows more time for me to visit Paris each year. Eventually, I hope to live part-time or full-time in Paris and be more involved in AUP activities as a mentor or as a volunteer.”
In closing, when asked what she most values about her AUP experience, Valerie shares:I value AUP’s location in the heart of Paris because, in reality, a portion of my two year education was learning about the city and France, visiting the wonderful museums, and attending various cultural events. In essence, I received two degrees, that is to say, an Associate’s degree from AUP and also a cultural degree in my knowledge of Paris, French history, and the French language. There is no other university that provides all this. The key reason why I selected AUP over other colleges and universities was that I did not want to be in a small town on a typical US college campus. AUP has the unique advantage of making students aware of different cultures and AUP students become global citizens.
Many, many thanks to Valerie for being in our Spotlight! Click here
to read more information, review or share photos, as well as reconnect with others from the ACP years on The American College in Paris 1962 – 1988 site.