The Green Leafe Café was the site of this year’s German Studies Homecoming gathering. Over loaded french fries and spinach pizza, Profs. Jenny Taylor and Jennifer Gully got to catch up with our former students, majors, minors, and friends of the the program. It was exciting, and moving, to hear from you and all the things you are doing! Please keep in touch and visit us again at next year’s Homecoming!
Category: Alumni Updates: German Studies
Living in Vienna was a fantastic experience. The Austrian-American Educational Commission Fulbright program gave me the unique opportunity to work abroad and teach English at two Bundesgymnasiums (high schools) and five grades (4th form through 8th form). My students were very eager to learn about American culture and practice for their English oral section of the Matura (graduating exam). There was not a single boring day during my tenure in Vienna. I truly looked forward to coming to work, commuting on the U-Bahn (metro) from Simmering station to Josephstädter Straße, and lesson planning. Perhaps my favorite lessons to teach were on pronunciation, where I included tongue twisters and accents, and lessons on the American school system, and American politics. Work aside, I had a couple of hobbies that I brought from the US: fencing and playing violin. Thanks to my Austrian fencing club, Fecht-Union-Mödling, I was able to compete in Munich, Brno (in the Czech Republic), Vienna, and Villach. When I was not fencing or traveling, I fiddled out on the streets and made a good amount of Trinkgeld (pocket money). Applying to Fulbright was certainly one of the best decisions I made in college. I learned so much from different cultures, made life friends and great memories! If given the chance, I would recommend applying to Fulbright in Austria! I would advise you to take advantage of the Donauinsel biking paths, ice skate in front of the Rathaus during the Christmas season, see the Hundertwasserhaus, and travel as much as possible to other Austrian cities and bordering countries of Austria since it is only a Flixbus or train ride away! Fulbright opened many doors for me – I got accepted into all three graduate programs I applied to and received several job interviews. I decided to go with a contracting government position, where I will use my translation and analytical skills.
Michelle Hermes ’18 has spent the past year as a U.S. Teaching Assistant in Austria (“Fulbright Austria”) in Wieselburg. She enjoyed her time so much that she decided to renew for a second year, and will be posted in the historical town of Klosterneuburg, right north of Vienna. This summer, she’ll be teaching English to children in Salzburg, and in the fall, she will be starting an MA Program in Politikwissenschaften at the Uni Wien.
Cierra Filla has received a prestigious U.S. Teaching Assistantship (USTA – Fulbright in Austria) to teach at a secondary school in Linz! Cierra is excellently prepared, having been a teaching assistant for German Studies at W&M for more than two years. Congratulations!
Thomas Bettge (German Studies, ’14) checked in with us. Here is what he reported:
I matriculated at Penn State’s Dickinson Law School in 2014. My background in German Studies enabled me to secure work the following summer with one of my professors, who was completing a dissertation comparing the horizontal dimension of constitutional rights in German, Canadian, and American law, and needed a research assistant capable of working with legal academic literature published in German.
During my second year, I discovered an interest in tax law. My undergraduate experience naturally led me in the direction of international tax, and in addition to completing coursework in that area, I secured a summer position after my second year with a transfer pricing group, helping multinational clients to navigate tax disputes and invoke tax treaty protections when the IRS and a foreign tax authority disagree on pricing matters. After graduation, I joined the same group of attorneys as an associate, married my fiancée of almost six years, and moved to Houston.
Ariana Berger (Business and German Studies ’11) has finished her internship in the Corporate Ratings department of Standard & Poor’s in Frankfurt, and will be working with S&P Capital IQ as an Account Manager. The position in fixed-term for one year with a relatively good chance for her to stay on afterwards. Ariana writes: “I think it is a great opportunity for me and I will very much enjoy it! It is more client and sales oriented, which I prefer over the very analytical position I had for the last 6 months.” Upon graduating from W&M, Ariana was awarded The Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange (CBYX) full-year work-study scholarship for Young Professionals in Germany for 2011-2012. Congratulations on your new position in Frankfurt, Ariana!
Next fall Lauren Shaw (German Studies, ’09) will be starting a master’s program in global migration at University College London. The program looks at the social, economic and political causes and implications of human migration, while seeking to better understand the lived experiences of local and international migrant communities. Courses are drawn from a number of disciplines, including geography, anthropology, economics and political science, and students benefit from UCL’s connections to NGOs, governmental and community-based organizations in London. Lauren, who spent two years in Austria as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant, is particularly interested in youth migration, educational opportunities and challenges for children with a migration background, and rural vs. urban areas as places of immigration and integration.
Since returning from Austria in 2011, Lauren has been working as a research associate at the German Historical Institute in Washington DC. She is part of the research project Transatlantic Perspectives: Europe in the Eyes of European Immigrants to the United States, 1930-1980, for which she does research, editing and website management. She is currently helping with the planning for a workshop entitled “Migrants as ‘Translators’: Mediating External Influences on Post World War II Western Europe, 1945-1973”, which the GHI is organizing in cooperation with the Institut für die Geschichte der Deutschen Jüden and will be held in Hamburg in October 2013.
Claire Lehnen (German Studies and International Relations, ’07), Graduate Student at the University of Michigan – Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, has assumed the position of German teacher at the German School of Ann Arbor, Michigan. After graduating, Claire spent two years in the Peace Corps in China, where she developed innovative foreign language instruction methodologies by creating and adapting interactive curriculum with projects and assignments that met students’ language learning needs and multi-skill level for Oral English and English Writing at a large accredited university in industrial China. Claire also interned at GM, supported policy agenda for vehicle model year 2012 labeling requirements by researching, editing and responding to communication, white papers and memoranda from federal agencies and auto alliances. She has just completed a group project at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy “Combating HIV-AIDS in China: Is there a place for NGOs?”
Peter Lecce (’12), Economics and International Studies Major with strong training and interests in German Studies, will be interning in the spring at the U.S. Consulate in Munich, where he will be working in the political/economic section. Peter took part in the W&M Potsdam Summer Study Abroad Program in 2010. Peter also recently found out that he was granted an interview for the Bundestag internship (the International Parlaments-Stipendium) in Washington this November. Finally, Peter is applying for the prestigious DAAD Fellowship for 2013-2014.
Arthur Schechter (W&M, 2009-2011; Brown University, 2011-Present) has won the American Psychoanalytic Association Prize for the best essay written by an undergraduate. Arthur’s essay, “Wagnerian Volksideologie, Narcissism, and Aesthetics: A Study in the Totalitarian Imaginary,” emerged as the final paper in Rob Leventhal’s Modern German Critical Thought II: Marx to Habermas course in the spring of 2011. Schechter’s essay stood out as having not only fully grasped Freud’s texts – Fragments of a Case History of Hysteria (Dora), Beyond the Pleasure Principle, On Narcissism, Mourning and Melancholia, Civilization and its Discontents – but as having actively and constructively thought Freud further on an important topic: the ideology of Volk. Using Wagner’s Anti-Semitic texts (Das Judentum in der Musik, 1850) as his basis, Schechter not merely applied Freud carefully and effectively, which would be already quite a task for a freshman, he actually mobilized Freudian technique and concepts to provide a highly original, compelling analysis of Volksideologie in the second half of the 19thcentury. The American Psychoanalytic Association’s Best Undergraduate Essay prize is awarded each year to an outstanding essay of 25 pages or less which engages Psychoanalytic ideas in relation to a focused question in any academic discipline.
Lauren Shaw has been going places lately– Slovenia, the Baltic States, Carinthia/Austria — and returning to the DC area.
After finishing a two-year Fulbright ETA in Austria, Lauren (German Studies, ’09) has returned to the United States and taken a job at the German Historical Institute in Washington, D.C. as a paid research assistant. At GHI, she’s working with a team of scholars doing research on Transatlantic Perspectives (http://www.transatlanticperspectives.org/), focused on mid-20th century European immigrants to the US and changing perspectives of Europe. In addition, Lauren was an intern at the Smithsonian Institution Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage the previous summer, where she co-authored an article in the forthcoming volume From Stage to Screen, edited by Massimiliano Sala, Volume xix of the Speculum series, published by Brepols. (http://www.luigiboccherini.org/speculum.html).
Often asked what students can do with a major in German Studies, we refer to students like Lauren who have used their writing, research and language skills and their knowledge of the humanities, German language, literature, and culture in particular, to secure rewarding work in exciting places. Lauren wants to eventually go to grad school, but right now she is building her skill portfolio, enjoys working with her “team,” and loving DC!
(BA English, German): I have used my language skills extensively since graduation – I have been active in the SAP software and business process field for 20 years, first in consulting, and have now worked directly for SAP for over 11 years. I am currently a Senior Director, focusing on solution marketing, and use my German language skills every day, both written and verbal, and have contributed to articles and books in both English and German languages. (Updated 2010)
(BA German): I am not using my German major very much these days, though occasionally I’ll tutor a student in German. After graduation I had a Fulbright to Germany – an awesome experience! I studied at the Teacher’s College in Freiburg. After my time there, I arranged to student teach at the American International School in Vienna, Austria through Lockhaven State University in PA. That led to my getting a full time job teaching German in the Elementary School there two years later. I worked there two years until I decided to come back to the States to begin having a family. Since 1987 I have been working as a tutor of multiple subjects including German, French and Spanish (the latter two I learned exclusively at W&M). I have traveled extensively in Europe, and now two of my children are very interested in languages. My daughter is majoring in German at Oberlin and will spend this coming year in Hamburg. My son is at W&M taking Chinese and is close to fluent in Spanish. Languages are certainly a strong interest in our family! We all love to travel and to get to know people in other cultures. (Updated 2010)
(BBA Marketing, German Studies): Married Scott Wirgau in July 2010 (Updated 2010)