Fluent Futures: Opening Opportunities with Language

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Room 250, Van Hise Hall and Zoom (registration required)
@ 11:00 am - 12:00 pm

Panelists will share how language study can lead to exciting and rewarding careers in these and related fields. Following the panel discussion, participants will have opportunities to ask questions and network with the panelists. This is a hybrid event and can be attended in person or on Zoom. Learn more here.

Zoom registration:


Panelist biographies:

  • Dr. Marella Big Mountain (Russian & Spanish) has a military aviation and linguistic background. She helped stand up the Air Force’s newest center of excellence with a focus on leadership, the Profession of Arms Center of Excellence (PACE), at Randolph AFB, Texas. She was recognized as the “Officer of the Year” while at the U.S. Embassy in Tashkent, Uzbekistan for her ability to build trust and a negotiated bilateral cooperation contract between two nations of vast cultural distinction. Marella is an educator for Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and the Air Force’s Air University. She recently returned from a year of service in Poland where she worked with U.S. and Polish and NATO teams across Poland and neighboring countries.
  • Dr. Charles Bartles (Russian) is an analyst and Russian linguist at the Foreign Military Studies Office. His specific research areas include Russian and Central Asian military force structure, modernization, tactics, officer and enlisted professional development, and security assistance programs. He is also a space operations officer and lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve. He has deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq, and has served as a security assistance officer at embassies in Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan. He is the co-author of the book The Russian Way of War: Force Structure, Tactics, and the Modernization of the Russian Ground Forces (Mentor, 2017).
  • Mr. Mike Panaro (Russian) is a retired Army Eurasian Foreign Area Officer. He served in the Security Assistance Offices of the U.S. Embassies in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, and Kyiv, Ukraine. He also served as the Country Desk Officer for Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan at the headquarters of U.S. Army Central. In his final military assignment, Mike served as a Team Chief for New START Treaty inspections, where he escorted Russian arms inspectors during 31 inspections of US nuclear weapons facilities.
  • Mr. Niko Ruud (French & German) serves as a Foreign Area Officer in the Michigan National Guard and U.S. Air Force. He works both overseas and in the continental United States to conduct partnership and theater security cooperation events, activities, and exercises to support European Command and Africa Command. Additionally, he uses his foreign affairs expertise to advise the Commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Africa by developing and writing air component planning requirements supporting 104 countries across the area of responsibility. He previously served as a member of faculty at the U.S. Air Force Academy, instructing French language courses and intercultural competency courses across all undergraduate levels. He is also a Division Administrator at the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services.