St. Louis native Jane Robert loved the beauty of the French language from the moment she took her first language class in high school. Although she dreamed of visiting Paris for years, she never thought she’d be able to afford such a trip. That is, until Robert’s college French professor at Webster University, Jacques Chicoineau, nominated her for a scholarship that would pay for a year-long study abroad program in Paris.
After arriving in June 1967, the largest strike France had ever known ensued in 1968. Students and more than 11 million workers protested their living and working conditions as riots broke out throughout the city.
Robert and a few of her classmates met in dorms, cafes and a professor’s apartment to continue their schooling, even enduring painful tear gas while trying to get to class. Only 10 percent of the students received their diplomas that year, Robert says, and she was one of the few who graduated.
That passion for French culture has lasted a lifetime, earning Robert knighthood in the Academic Palms and French Legion of Honor, both bestowed to her by the French government for her efforts to promote French language education in the United States.
After receiving her master’s degree, Robert spent eight years teaching French at Parkway West High School in the St. Louis suburb of Ballwin, MO. She married her husband, Bruce Robert, in 1979 and began teaching French at Saint Louis University in the early 1980s. After having their son, Patrick, Robert began volunteering at his elementary school and tutoring business men and women in French.