March 1, 2024

UMW Alums Find ‘Amour’ in Sharing France

2019 graduates Jalen Brown and Maria Dubiel majored in French and international affairs at UMW. The couple, now engaged, are pursuing master’s degrees in France and reaching French-loving followers through their blog and accompanying YouTube channel, The Francofile. Photo courtesy of The Francofile.

2019 graduates Jalen Brown and Maria Dubiel majored in French and international affairs at UMW. The couple, now engaged, are pursuing master’s degrees in France and reaching French-loving followers through their blog and accompanying YouTube channel, The Francofile. Photo courtesy of The Francofile.

Maria Dubiel has always had a passion for French. So, when she met fiancé Jalen Brown, he knew he had to immerse himself in her love language.

The high school sweethearts came to the University of Mary Washington as teens, excited for independence and college life, Dubiel said. “We left an engaged couple with bachelor’s degrees, jobs waiting for us in France and four amazing years to hold close.”

Now, the 2019 alums are vivent le rêve – living the dream – together as one. After teaching English abroad, they’re completing graduate work at a university in Reims, a bustling city in France’s Champagne region. When they aren’t exploring the country, visiting museums or having romantic picnics in the park, the couple is sweeping tens of thousands of French-loving folks along on their journey with The Francofile, an online hub they launched after graduating from UMW.

“We were scouring the internet for information about moving to France,” Brown said. Finding none, they combined their photography and writing skills to create a blog and YouTube channel, featuring everything from travel tips to an essay on how Mary Washington prepared them for life in France. “We’ve grown a community of followers and are grateful to know the posts we share are helping others.” Read more.