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Alumni Success Stories

What can I do with a major or minor in German? Anything!

Wondering where a German major or minor can take you? Our recent graduates are doing all kinds of things, from graduate school, to work in the museum world, to further work and study abroad. They all have one thing in common: they talk about how much their study of German at K helped them succeed.

 

Stuart Murch

Stuart Murch ’17 is currently on a year-long postgrad fellowship in Erlangen. He was a German and Psychology double major and a varsity swimmer who appreciated the open curriculum at K. He writes us, “I began in German-101 at K out of pure interest; I had no previous exposure to the language. I went on to declare a minor in German studies (which I later changed to a major), and studied abroad in Erlangen for six months. To be able to go from a complete beginner to living in Germany on my own in just a few short years has been a simply amazing experience. I am currently working towards completing a C1 language certification. I feel really lucky that the K plan allows the time for a double major, a long-term study abroad, be involved in civic engagement, and I was still able to participate in a varsity sport on top of that. At K I enjoyed having the flexibility to combine my love of German with my other major, Psychology. I had the opportunity to discuss the works of Freud in my German classes, as well as the chance to learn about how people acquire language in my psychology classes. When I return to the United States I hope to be able to find a career path that will continue to allow me to combine these two interests.”

 

 

 Mother-Daughter Story

A unique mother-daughter story of study abroad from K College to Germany! Annie Nielsen K'17 and her mom Susie Nielsen K' 88 both share a passion for German and study abroad!

Annie Nielsen K'17

Annie's story: "While at K, I was a German Studies and International and Area Studies double-major with a minor in Business. I really liked the combination of German and IAS because it allowed me to explore the many and intersecting ways the international system works--politically, socially, economically, etc--while situating what I was learning about Germany in a broader, European and global context. My 6-month study abroad in Erlangen my junior year definitely played a large role in supplementing this theoretical knowledge with first-hand experience, as did my ICRP internship in the City of Nuremberg's Department of International Relations. That internship also provided the spark for my SIP on German-American Sister City relationships. I received the Hough Foundation SIP Grant for Modern and Classical Languages to do field research the summer before my senior year in the US and in Germany, and gained a lot in the process. After graduation last summer, I moved back to Germany, this time to Bonn, to complete a year-long post-graduation fellowship at the University of Bonn. Here, I'm taking classes similar to those I took at K: classes that help me learn about how the world works and the role of different people in the international system. It's also helping prepare me for life after this year, when I will hopefully be working for some sort of organization that fosters international cultural exchange."

Susie Nelson K'88

Susie's story: "I graduated from K in 1988 with majors in Economics and German Language & Literature. My study abroad was in Bonn, where I lived with a widowed mother and her two teen daughters. My younger host sister came to the US the following year and lived with my parents in Saginaw as an exchange student. We have stayed in touch all these years and she brought her family to Michigan for a visit last summer. I did my SIP at Rentrop Publishing in Bonn. My first year after graduation, I spent a year studying in Erlangen on one of the K scholarships.

One of the primary reasons I got my first job at Saginaw Division of General Motors was my proficiency in German. I worked in a product line that had significant sales in Europe, so I interfaced daily with our sales office in Rüsselsheim. To this day, people still bring me German language documents from our customers to interpret. For a long time, I had a Fahrzeugtechnisches Wörterbuch in my desk at work.

 

 

Blake Peters '96

 

Blake Peters K '96 is currently the head of the German International School in Portland, OR. The mission of the German International School is to educate well-rounded, global citizens from Preschool through fifth grade, and develop language fluency in both English and German. Blake wrote to us, "My dedication to bilingual education dates to my days as a camper, counselor, and dean with Concordia Language Villages in Minnesota. I am continually excited and inspired by the positive effect learning another language and culture has on a child. I joined GIS in 2003 and have devoted my efforts to increasing the school’s support from the local community and the German government, improving the program, and promoting sustainability. The school has become a model for German Schools Abroad in North America and around the world. I am actively involved with the American Association of Teachers of German and have served on its Executive Council. Recently, I co-authored Gute Idee: A Handbook of Good Ideas for Teachers of German from the Waldsee German Language Village. Born in Michigan, I graduated with degrees in German, Education, and  Human Development and Social Relations from Kalamazoo College. I also earned a Master of Arts in German Languages and Literature from Ohio State University. During my undergraduate studies and later as a Fulbright Scholar, I had the opportunity to live and work throughout Germany."

 

 

 Tyburski '16

 

Liz Tyburski '16

I took German 101 on a whim my first quarter at K, unknowing how much that decision would impact me. It’s been five years since that Fall and since then I went on to complete a German Studies major, studied abroad in Erlangen, and just completed a post-baccalaureate year of study in Bonn. 

I am currently working as a substitute teacher and I hope to begin a Master’s program within the next year to become certified to teach high school Spanish and German in Michigan. German Studies at K not only helped me develop a love of German language and culture, but also gave me my first exposure to teaching.  During my time in Erlangen my Intercultural Research Project (ICRP) was working as an English teaching assistant at a Gymnasium. This experience helped cement my desire to work in language education, and understand how vital it is to bring cultural and historical context into the language classroom. Additionally, my experiences abroad and within the German department helped me recognize the importance of intercultural competence and understanding, something I strive to bring into the classroom as a teacher one day.

 

 

 Grady Schneider '16

 

Grady Schneider '16

 At K, Grady focused his studies around Economics and German Studies. He also engaged in a variety of extracurricular activities including managing the WJMD radio station, playing with the Kalamazoo College Ultimate Frisbee team, and participating in Men’s Varsity Lacrosse.

Grady started his German coursework to meet K’s language requirement, and decided to continue after being introduced to the program. “The German faculty at K is great, and they have been able to develop a rich community around the German Studies program. I made many friends through my German courses and have continued to stay in touch with several of them.” Additionally, his coursework engaged him with historical insights, practice in literature, and by creating a passion for the German language. “It is really exciting to communicate with people and to create understanding. That’s what you are learning through a program like this one. You are not only learning how to communicate on a fundamental level, but also a historical and a literary level through connotations and metaphor.”

As a student of the German Studies program at K, Grady studied abroad in Erlangen, Germany. While in Germany he built German language skills, connected with German relatives, traveled, became great friends with fellow students, and gained a better understanding of German culture. With many opportunities to step outside of his comfort zone on study abroad, Grady was able to learn more about himself, and became more comfortable taking on new challenges and uncertainty. Grady notes that this helped prepare him for life after K. “Once you leave K you can be faced with a lot of uncertainty, and that demands that you take risks. Studying in a foreign environment and traveling helped prepare me for that challenge.”

After graduating with both a major in Economics and German Studies, Grady moved to Los Angeles where he now works on policy issues at the Los Angeles Business Council. Although German is not a part of his role currently, he is interested in applying it to the international development side of his office. “Berlin is actually a sister city of Los Angeles, and I would be very excited to help develop that relationship. There are also a number of business people locally with German backgrounds.” His experience has shown him that German is a skill he can leverage outside of the classroom, including in his professional life.

Grady still keeps up with German by listening to German radio online, writing German friends and family, and striking up conversations in German when the opportunity arises.

 

 

 Riley Cook

 

Riley Cook ’15, German and Philosophy double-major, deferred her law school admission to return to Germany on a Fulbright this year. She wrote to us, "I graduated from K as a double-major in Philosophy and German. K’s study abroad program in Erlangen was fundamental in narrowing my interests. For my ICRP, I taught an elementary German course at a non-profit organization and interned for the municipal office of city partnerships, allowing me to engage directly with issues surrounding immigration in Germany.

While working after graduation at a law firm, I frequently heard about the humanitarian crisis occurring in war torn Syria and record-numbers of refugees entering Germany. I applied for a Fulbright grant because I decided that there was no better time than the present to return and study immigration policy.The connections I made while doing my ICRP in Erlangen were necessary for my Fulbright research proposal and the projects that I am now working on. I am currently teamed up with a professor and PhD candidates in order to form a “task force” that determines how and where refugee integration policies are organized in nearby municipalities, how civil society organizations are involved, and which methods are the most effective for integration.Because the German education system is different than that in the U.S., I was nervous at first that other students in my masters program (political science) would have more specific training. However, Germans really value the more general approach that I bring to our team. This interdisciplinary appreciation is something I gained from my liberal arts education and something the Fulbright program also seeks to foster."

 

 

 Sapana Gupta

 

Sapana Gupta ’17, German, Computer Science, and Math triple major, is currently in Germany as a Fulbright ETA. She studied in Erlangen, Germany, and took on her ICRP at the university’s Gender and Diversity office. She wrote to us: "The summer following my return from study abroad, I hopped on a plane to head back to Erlangen and extend my ICRP into my SIP, which centered on how Germany’s history still plays a role in its present, particularly in regard to the perceptions and internalizations held toward German woman and their role in society. While researching my SIP in Germany, I not only gained a deeper understanding of German culture, but also became more exposed to how the USA is perceived by other nations. In the friendships I developed, I was able to dismantle an abundance of misconceptions held about Americans. This made me realize how passionate I am about communication, especially in the context of cultural-exchange. Once my senior year began, I decided to apply for and received, a Fulbright Fellowship.
Today, I am once again living in Germany, working as an English Teaching Assistant at a Gymnasium near Mainz. I teach students between 11th and 13th grade how to strengthen their English-language and critical-thinking skills through discussing topics relating to American culture and history. Though it’s only been a month, I’m happy to report that I’ve found my role much more meaningful than expected. My voice clearly has an impact on both the students’ comprehension of the English-language, as well as life in America, allowing me to truly feel like I’m helping build a bridge of understanding between our countries."

 Blanca Moreno '17

Blanca Moreno '17 is a participant in the prestigious Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals program 2017-18. Sponsored by the U.S. Congress and the German Bundestag, she will represent the US in Germany as a junior cultural ambassador for a year-long diplomatic, and cultural exchange. Participants come from a wide variety of career fields, and from all over the United States. The program has a language training phase, a study phase, and an internship phase. She wrote to us, "I am spending my first two months in Radolfzell am Bodensee, Germany undertaking an intensive language training course at Carl Duisburg Training Center. Thereafter I will be moving to Hamburg, Germany where I will be studying political science for a semester at the University of Hamburg. Furthermore, I will be spending my last five months in Germany working for a German company or organization. The goal is to immerse myself in German society as much as possible and be able to gain cultural understanding through different settings. During my time in Germany I hope to give an adequate representation of my country to Germans and hope to bring back to the U.S a small glimpse of German culture to share.

 

 

 Mallory Zink

 

 

Mallory Zink '15 is currently a graduate student in Museum Studies at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, and the Assistant Educator at the Wisconsin Historical Museum. She wrote to us, "I loved Kalamazoo College and took part in every opportunity offered - I graduated in 2015, double majoring in German (I took German 101 my freshman fall and was in a German class every semester after that!) and International Area Studies, with a concentration in Western Europe. I studied abroad for 364 days in Erlangen, Germany - my ICRP was at a museum and it was not my first choice for an ICRP, more like my 5th/final choice, but I ended up loving it. I also started my SIP research in Erlangen, and I received honors for my SIP "The Myth of the Zero Hour and Memory in Film". After I graduated, I moved to Bonn, Germany for a fellowship program and interned at my second museum, the Bonn Memorial Center for Victims of the Holocaust. Now I live in Madison, Wisconsin and I'm the assistant educator at the Wisconsin Historical Museum. I give a lot of tours to 4th graders, help organize school groups and I just wrote a pre-visit guide for children on the autism spectrum. I'm also a new Public History graduate student at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, where I am specializing in Museum Studies through a partnership at the Milwaukee Public Museum! I don't get the chance to use German in my day-to-day life currently, but being a German major at K formed my career path and helped get me to where I am today. I am unbelievably glad that I took that ICRP and was able to fall in love with the museum industry and begin to dabble in collective memory - which both go hand-in-hand with public history."

 

 

 

Colin Cepuran 

 

Colin Cepuran ’15 is currently a Ph.D. student at Cornell University in Political Science. He writes, "I majored in German and Political Science at Kalamazoo College.  I studied abroad in Erlangen, and wrote an ICRP on the gendered experiences of young adults at a local youth football team.  While at K, I wrote my SIP with Dr. Berry in Political Science: I investigated the antidemocratic character of sex education curricular review boards in Metro Detroit.  After graduating in 2015, I continued to do research with Dr. Berry, got involved with Americorps (I quit after 6 months), and managed a mayoral and State House campaign in Kalamazoo, all within a year.  I’m currently in my second year of my PhD at Cornell University, where I’m studying American Politics—specifically, the institutions, policies, and heuristics which allow American citizens to participate in politics.  I—additionally—am researching the origins of racialized policy preferences with Dr. Berry. While German never played a starring role in my long-term academic aspirations or professional experiences, the ideas I was exposed to, and the critical ethos of the department both shaped the person and scholar I am today.  I felt encouraged to encounter and weigh new thinkers and ideas in German coursework, and I continue to react to and grapple with those authors to this day.  Above all, I found the department uniquely committed to developing, challenging, and nurturing students of the liberal arts."


 

If you are a graduate of our German program, please get in touch with us and share your story! We'd love to hear from you!