If you did not know already, it might surprise you to find out that freshman Charlotte Lannon can speak Russian.
Even though Lannon is not fluent, she has an interesting story behind her knowledge of Russian.
Lannon comes from a background of Russian speakers. When Lannon’s mother was eight years old, she emigrated from the Soviet Union with her family. Lannon said that the stories her mother tells of growing up in Russia were “rough.”
When they left, Lannon’s mother did not initially know they would be coming to America. “My grandparents actually had to lie to my mom,” Lannon explained. “They told her that they were going to Italy for vacation.”
Coming to America did not mean that their family struggles were over. “They were really really poor. My grandfather got a job working on the railroad and my grandmother got a job working at a bank,” Lannon said. However, by saving money and working hard, Lannon said her grandparents were able to become “very successful.”
Lannon’s dad is Irish, but spent some time in Russia and speaks the language for his job with the government. Lannon did not grow up using Russian at home, but would hear her parents and grandparents speaking Russian.
One of her earliest memories is of her grandfather speaking Russian. Lannon said that “[Russian has] always been very familiar,” but it wasn’t until she was older that she learned how to communicate.
When Lannon was about 14, she decided that she wanted to learn to read and write some Russian. Lannon was homeschooled and her grandmother taught her for three years during high school. Lannon said that the hardest part about learning Russian was learning the Cyrillic alphabet and memorizing some of the sounds.
Lannon can respond if someone speaks to her in Russian and can carry on a basic conversation. She says that when Officer Mason from UDPD sees her working at the Cap Bar, he will speak to her in Russian.
Lannon loves that being able to speak Russian offers her a sort of connection, particularly with her grandparents. She fondly remembered her grandfather telling her “Молодец“ growing up, which she later realized means ‘good job.’
“I’d really like to speak more Russian than I do,” Lannon explained. Lannon’s mother read “Anna Karenina” in its original language, and she would love to be able to do the same someday.
One of Lannon’s favorite hobbies is reading, especially classics and novels. In fact, she was named after the novelist Charlotte Brontë.
Lannon heard about the University of Dallas from her sister and family friends, but was personally drawn to the school because of the community and liberal arts education. So far, her favorite class has been Philosophy and the Ethical Life.
She loves how engaged the community is and appreciates being surrounded by so many people who want to learn. “I love how much everyone cares about learning and how invested everyone is in their education,” Lannon said. “It really makes you want to learn and makes you want to be around people who inspire that.”