In addition to her work as a communications consultant in Johannesburg, South Africa, Elizabeth "Ellie" Stephens (Paris – French Studies, Fall 2012) just published her first novel, Population, a post-apocalyptic, science fiction adventure that features a diverse cast of characters. The book is currently available everywhere online books are sold, including Amazon, and has recently been purchased by Barnes and Noble for national distribution.
“As a multiracial kid, it was always difficult reading books where none of the characters looked like me,” Ellie said. “By writing Population, I hoped to create a commercial fiction book that could appeal to wide audiences while also featuring awesome characters of color.”
While becoming a published author is quite an accomplishment, Ellie’s life and career are equally as impressive. Growing up in Bamako, Mali, until she was 6 years old, French was her first language, but she lost most of her ability to speak it after moving to the United States. Although she took French classes throughout her schooling, what she really needed was to immerse herself in a Francophone country. Our Paris French Studies Program offered Ellie what she was looking for: intense immersion with all courses taught in French and an option to live in a homestay.
“It was a quick and easy choice and one that, in retrospect, I’m absolutely thrilled I took. Studying abroad with IES Abroad was one of the best decisions that I made throughout my college career and helped me on both professional and personal levels,” Ellie said.
While in Paris, Ellie connected with a The George Washington University alum who put her in touch with someone working for the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). He was in desperate need of a translator. Three weeks later, Ellie was on a plane to Tunis, Tunisia, conducting simultaneous French translations of tax law between her boss and Tunisian government officials.
Upon finishing college, Ellie landed a job with the United Nations in Beirut, Lebanon. Unfortunately, violence in the Hezbollah-controlled neighborhood she was living in cut her time there short. From there she moved to Switzerland to work for a human rights organization as a communications officer, which led to her current role as a communications consultant in South Africa.
Currently, Ellie is working on the sequel to Population, as well as a young adult novel that takes place in Paris, drawing upon her experiences there. She explained, “Giving this story life and flavor would not have been possible without having had a taste of Paris myself. I have IES Abroad to thank for that, and soon hope to see this young adult novel in print.”
Read the first three chapters of Population here.
Want to learn more about our IES Abroad alums? Visit the “Alumni” section of our website.