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Riley Cook


Glen Ellyn, IL
German and Philosophy
Study Abroad:
Erlangen, Germany
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In 10 words or less, why should a student want to be involved in this department?
Its welcoming environment is invaluable for learning language and culture.

What initially drew you to this department?  What keeps you coming back?
I took several years of German in high school.  After attending Visit the Zoo and visiting the German Studies table, I knew that the program would be perfect for me because it integrated rigorous language learning with culture and a study abroad program. Since then, the professors and their course material always left me wanting to learn and improve more, so I decided to make it one of my majors.

What’s your biggest piece of advice to first years and sophomores in this department?
Commit!  Some students might think German is not an obvious or “useful” foreign language choice. However, once you commit to learning it well and open yourself up to the culture, you'll begin to realize that this notion is far from the truth. Regardless of what your other interests are, knowledge of German leads to unique opportunities.  The German department at Kalamazoo provides one with the resources to gain the experiences necessary to take advantage of them.

How does your department connect to your other interests and activities?
I have always enjoyed literature and I love the short stories I have read in my German courses. At times, German has also aided my understanding of philosophy courses, where lessons often draw from texts and terminology originally written in German. I have also developed an interest in immigration policy and integration programs, and while in Germany, I gained experience teaching beginner-level German to immigrants at a non-profit organization for my Intercultural Research Project. The German department continues to connect to my other interests in other surprising ways.

What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned at K?
I've learned to not be so afraid when things suddenly change. Everything at K seems to move quickly. Within my first three year here, my courses, major, friend group, location, and goals have changed multiple times. While these changes led to some anxiety at first, I'm beginning to realize that this is exactly the time in my life when I want my world to be constantly evolving. Not only is it exciting, it leads to much more personal growth.

What has been your favorite class at K?  Why?
My favorite class at Kalamazoo College has been Theorizing Citizenship and Immigration in the Philosophy department. It felt very relevant and challenged me to be cognizant of arguments pertaining to immigration and open borders which I previously hadn't given much merit.

What is your SIP?
I will explore the ethics of international recruitment practices and policies pertaining to healthcare workers.

What are your career aspirations/next steps after K?
I still have lots of ideas floating around in my head. I am currently in the process of applying for post-graduate internships in Chicago related to German and Human Resources. I hope I have the opportunity to return to Nuremberg, Germany and complete an internship at the Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge (Federal Office for Immigration and Refugees) before mapping out my next steps. Eventually I will further my education and perhaps obtain an MA in Business or a Law Degree. 

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