Maxim Aleksa

Maxim Aleksa, 2017 Chiara Maria Levin award winner, has a passion for languages and spent his time in RLL studying multiple Romance languages. His involvement in RLL went beyond the classroom, from studying abroad in Europe to joining many Romance Language clubs and labs at U-M. 

Maxim said that the availability of a Romance Languages major was one of the reasons why he applied to, and ultimately chose to attend, the University of Michigan. The RLL department enriched Maxim’s time in undergrad in many ways, starting from the beginning of his freshman year when he was searching for a research project for UROP. 

“​​I found the work done by Professor Nicholas Henriksen on the phonetics of the varieties of Spanish to be the most interesting among all UROP projects, and continued to work with him throughout the years,” Maxim said. 

During his time in Ann Arbor, Maxim was on the executive board of Italianissimo, Michigan's Italian club. He spent many evenings both organizing and participating in the club’s numerous activities, including tutoring, movie nights, conversation hours and games. On the academic side, Maxim took many elective courses in RLL, ranging from a graduate-level literature course on Don Quijote to courses in phonetics, translation and Catalan language. 

“In addition to being simply interesting, they were a nice way to diversify my studies from the courses that I was taking for my other major and minor,” Maxim said. 

In the summer of 2014 after his freshman year, Maxim participated in a study abroad program focused on art history. Led by Professor Howard Lay, the Arts in Paris program consisted of two courses. The first was “Paris by Site,” an art history course where Professor Lay spent most of the time instructing at the historical sites of Paris rather than in a classroom setting. The second was a French course at a local university.

“This was a very special time for me, as it was my first time back in Europe after moving from Italy to the United States, and it allowed me to live in Paris,” Maxim said. “This program also provided an opportunity to practice the language in an environment where I was surrounded by native speakers, solidifying my French skills by the program’s end. Furthermore, I had a chance to study art history, a subject that I may not have chosen in undergrad given the wide range of other interesting courses and hobbies of my own.”

Maxim said the Chiara Maria Levin Study Abroad Scholarship made his decision to study abroad much easier. The possibility of receiving the scholarship pushed him both to apply to study abroad and to declare a major in RLL. 

“One of the requirements for the Chiara Maria Levin scholarship was having declared a major in RLL or in a language spoken in the country of the study abroad program,” Maxim said. “As I happened to have satisfied the requirements, I promptly declared the RLL major before applying, and kept it [while adding a major in Computer Science and a minor in Business Administration].”

At the end of his senior year, Maxim was informed that he was the recipient of the Chiara Maria Levin Award for Breadth and Excellence in the Romance Languages. 

“I was truly honored, and besides symbolizing hard work and passion for languages, the award represented a nice closure at the end of my undergrad, as it made me think back to my freshman year and the study abroad,” Maxim said.