Archived Undergraduate Student Profiles
Marcus Dominick, COL’14
I came to Georgetown as a linguistics major after discovering a passion for languages, specifically French, in high school. Taking beginner German classes alongside my linguistics requirements during freshman year, I realized that what truly interested me about languages were the particular sociocultural contexts in which they play themselves out: the geographies, histories, stories, personalities, and assumptions with which they are bound up.
Despite my original intentions, I left college four years later a French and German major. After meandering through several departments, I rediscovered my old passion for French and even came upon a new one. Throughout the entire sequence of my German studies – from the introductory courses up through the gateways and the upper-level electives –, I encountered talented and engaged faculty who took a real, perceivable interest in my personal and intellectual development. History courses taught me to see people as social agents inheriting, shaping, and passing on a set of material and ideological givens, while literature courses encouraged me to become a more sensitive reader, both of fiction and of the world around me, allowing me to better value and navigate life. And all while becoming proficient in a foreign language! That was always a major draw the study of a foreign language had for me: being able to potentially do what could otherwise be done in English courses, only with the benefit of being able to do it in another language. Of course, that made for some frustrating times of wanting and not being able to adequately express myself, but moments like these became rarer with each semester. Until I got to that point, I learned to appreciate just what it means for a language to have such flexible word order, just how ideological legitimacy is created, or just why Rilke and Brecht continue to matter so much, among other things.
Next year, I will be living in Grenoble as a participant in the Teaching Assistantship Program in France. In the meantime, I am exploring my future plans, with a particular eye toward graduate programs in French. Wherever I end up, I know the lessons I’ve learned through my German studies will stick with me for the long haul. Vielen Dank an alle meine Professorinnen!
Melissa Riggio, COL’14
I began German in high school sophomore year as I was searching for electives to complete my schedule. Already having taken French for three years, I itched to learn a new language, completely different than French. Spanish and Latin were then out of the question, and that left German. Arriving at Georgetown University, I immediately signed up as a double major in French and German – there was no question of “picking a favorite”, as I was advised to do. Throughout my time at Georgetown, I immersed myself in the German department, attending lectures, participating in competitions, and eventually visiting Germany for the first time after my French study abroad program in Paris was complete.
Visiting Frankfurt, Passau, and Dresden that summer left me wanting to visit Germany for longer, which is how I ended up living in Berlin for seven months, at first interning, then volunteering, and studying at Humboldt University. I interned at a PR Firm, volunteered teaching English, and worked at a board game café, utilizing my German and learning about Berliner culture. One of the best parts of the whole experience was getting to know Germans and Berlin, and still talking to those friends long after I’d left.
After my graduation in May 2014, I work now at Georgetown and intern at the George Washington University in addition to working on my Fulbright ETA in Germany application for 2015-2016. I’m specifically requesting to not live in a big city and instead want to live and explore the other parts of German culture outside of urban centers, hopefully working in my free time with sustainable organizations or gardens.
I’d like to thank the German department for being both challenging and supportive, and pushing me to better my German with every class. I would not have been able to study abroad without the German department’s support, and hope to continue being in contact with this fantastic department!
Allison Link, SFS’14
I first began learning German in seventh grade, and continued throughout high school. Upon being accepted to Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service, I chose to continue learning German for my proficiency language after a very enjoyable trip to Vienna and Berlin the summer between high school and college. Though admittedly German was not my strongest subject in school, I was motivated to learn enough German to directly matriculate into my dream study abroad location at the University of Vienna, and I had the good fortune to encounter several wonderful professors that really pushed me to work hard at the language.
I discovered the Fulbright program through the German department my sophomore year, just as I was cultivating an additional interest in an education career. The program seemed like the perfect opportunity to combine my interests in international relations, the German language, and education, so I kept in the back of my mind. Following a wonderful spring semester at the University of Vienna in 2013, I knew it was my first choice for post-graduate plans.
I will be working as a teaching assistant in the English classrooms at two high schools in Wiener Neustadt, in Niederösterreich not too far outside of Vienna. I look forward to getting to know the countryside a bit more, but I also look forward to making several weekend trips into the city I fell in love with back in the spring of 2013. Though proficient in German, I’m also really looking to sharpen my fluency and become truly comfortable with the German language during my nine months in Austria, before I come back to the United States to pursue my teaching career.
I cannot thank the German department enough for all their support and help in discovering a career that I have dreamed about for so long!
Phillip Bradshaw, COL’14
After graduating from high school, I deferred college to spend a year living and studying abroad. For the first half of my gap year, I lived with a host family in the Caucuses, went to a Russian school and took lessons with a tutor. The Russian language, with its complex grammar and literary history, sparked my interest in linguistics.
I then moved to Aachen, Germany, where I attended a German language institute among students came from a variety of countries. We each spoke different languages and learned German in different manners. By comparing our learning processes, I developed a particular interest in language acquisition.
I returned to the US to study Linguistics and advance my abilities in Russian and German. The Georgetown University German Department was instrumental in helping me achieve this goal. In my German courses, I expanded my framework for language by studying not only the linguistics forms of German, but also the cultures and histories of German speakers. I learned to critically engage with texts which also enriched my education in Linguistics and Russian, and I built rapport with the Department faculty who invested in me personally and challenged me intellectually.
In my final semester at Georgetown, I studied the Department’s curriculum and pedagogical practices in the graduate-level methods course. I gained a greater awareness of how the Department had afforded me the opportunities to reach my goal. With this awareness and faculty support, I applied for, received and accepted the Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Germany. I look forward to using the knowledge I gained from German to help empower students through English. I also look forward to calling my phone a “handy,” playing the guessing game of word gender and sorting trash into a plethora of containers.
Ryan Millerick, COL’12, MAGES 16
After graduating in 2012 with a double major in German and Classics, I have used my knowledge of German language, culture, and politics to pursue several opportunities in International Relations. From March to July of 2013 I participated in the Internationales Parlamentsstipendium (IPS) Program through the German Bundestag and Humboldt Universität zu Berlin. Along with 115 other young professionals from thirty different countries, I delved into the daily work of German lawmakers, attending seminars with political Stiftungen, visiting government agencies, attending committee and full plenary sessions, and supporting the daily tasks of my assigned representative, Peter Wichtel, CDU from Hessen. As part of the program, I also spent a weekend in Herr Wichtel’s voting district. This was an incomparable opportunity to meet average German citizens and local politicians and to observe the daily work of a Bundestagsabgeordnete in his district. The IPS program was a distinctively personal and informative glimpse into the parliamentary process and a remarkable chance to experience German and European politics firsthand.
In March 2013, I was awarded a Fulbright Teaching Assistant Grant to Germany. I was placed at a Fachoberschule in Munich, a specialized type of high school focusing on economics and business and will live and work here from September 2013 until June 2014. In conversations with both the teachers and students, I have discussed topics important to both Germans and Americans: immigration, health care, social trends and media, and politics. The cultural awareness I have gained from this experience – both the perspective on my own country and a deeper understanding of German society – is invaluable. The work at the school extends outside of the classroom: I have travelled around Bavaria with faculty and with exchange students from Kiev, Ukraine. I also served as English translator for the principal’s speech at the school’s Europe day festivities and I have attended FC Bayern München games with faculty.
Mit meinem Chef, links, Peter Wichtel (CDU, Hessen) und dem wissenschaftlichen Mitarbeiter, Christoph Schmidt
After returning to the States in the summer, I will head back to the Hilltop to begin my Master’s in German & European Studies in the School of Foreign Service. The opportunities that I have had through my background in German have been truly incredible. The demanding coursework and high expectations from the faculty and staff of the German Department have paid dividends for me linguistically, professionally, and personally. Using the foundation laid in the classrooms at Georgetown – focusing on broad vocabulary comprehension, in depth critical analysis of both German literature and current issues and trends in German society, and the detailed emphasis on proper pronunciation – I have been able to rapidly increase my language comprehension abroad, allowing me to adapt more easily to other professional challenges.
Nicholas Santangelo, COL’10
Majoring in German has opened a world of opportunities for me, in a very literal sense. I entered Georgetown already declared as a German major, and left bound straight for Europe.
I came to Georgetown with four years of high school German under my belt, which I thought would confer a special advantage on me. To my surprise, the advanced course I placed into included sophomores who had only begun learning the language one year before. I benefited from this fast-paced learning environment and developed a strong interest in language acquisition, which led me to pursue a minor in linguistics and hands-on work tutoring ESL.
The ideas I encountered in class contributed greatly to my intellectual development. From the Heliand, an ancient gospel depicting Christ as a Germanic tribal champion, to Frühlings Erwachen, the scathing assault on traditional mores that inspired the musical Spring Awakening, the materials challenged my beliefs powerfully and led me to reevaluate much of what I had once taken for granted. Particularly illuminating were courses on fin-de-siècle Vienna and the Weimar Republic, which wove culture and history together into informative tapestries of context for those pivotal periods.
During my junior and senior years, major opportunities outside of the classroom opened up. As a junior, I spent the spring semester abroad at the University of Vienna, where I lived with Austrians and spent most of my time in full German immersion. The experience proved very valuable both for language learning and for global networking, in addition to being loads of fun. In my senior year, the Department connected me with the nonprofit startup German-American Heritage Museum of the USA, where I directly impacted a range of exhibits and facilitated the grand opening.
Shortly before graduation in May 2010, I accepted a position as Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Salzburg, Austria, where I have had the good fortune to combine my undergraduate major and minor into a concrete and fulfilling job. Having very much enjoyed the yearlong experience, I extended the position, and will spend the upcoming academic year teaching English in Vienna. As I continue to explore career options and aim toward studies in international law, I am certain that German will play a major role in my life for many years to come.
The picture shows me with one of my English classes in Salzburg. It was class picture day, so they all came in wearing their traditional dress, to the delight of their Sound-of-Music-loving American teacher!
Timothy VanHal, COL’09
German continues to play an interesting role in my life. My journey with the language began while still a student at Cal Poly State University – San Luis Obispo. Feeling ambitious in my sophomore year, I took some beginner German classes as electives, simply to give me something different than my other classes. I enjoyed the classes greatly, and upon transferring to Georgetown as a junior, I continued with intermediate German classes, initially with only the intention of completing the two years necessary to meet the Georgetown language requirement. After some contemplation, however, I decided to minor in German, a good complement for my Government major and other minor in Economics.
In order to complete all the necessary classes in time to graduate, I participated in the Trier summer study abroad program, completing a year’s worth of advanced classes in only the five weeks of the program. The phenomenal academic relation to my professor, my very small class of only four students, the experience of living with a host family in a foreign country, the challenge of speaking exclusively German for five weeks, and the numerous fun and educational outings taken by the group of students transformed the summer in Trier into one of my favorite experiences of my college career.
During my Senior Year I continued studying German by taking classes that focused on the current issues and trends, the state and structure of business, and the historical progression of the cinema in Germany. The quality of my professors was superior on both an academic and a personal level; indeed, many of the professors with whom I remain in frequent contact stem from these particular German classes.
After graduating in May of 2009, I feared that my journey with German was coming to an end. While planning to continue my education by attending law school in the fall of 2010, I began to look into internship and employment opportunities in Germany. Upon a recommendation from a professor and indeed some very selfless assistance from another professor, assistance that allowed me to make the application deadline, I applied for the Internationales Parliamentarisches Stipendium. IPS is a five month stipend program bringing 120 college graduates from around the world to Berlin to work with a German parliament member and his office. Thanks to both the help of the professor and the quality of the German Department, I was accepted into the program and will be flying to Germany in late February staying until the end of July to work for the German government. It appears that my journey in German is far from over after all.
Hannah Pitts, COL’09, MA’10
I enrolled at Georgetown undeclared, not sure if I should further pursue German as an academic interest. My first class was Advanced German, a definitely challenging yet also fun and engaging class. After completing Advanced German and Text in Context, I enjoyed reading many German classics for the first time in Level IV and V courses.
After taking part in the Department’s summer program in Trier, I decided to add a German major to my Government major because German complemented my Government studies well. The German Department was also able to provide individual attention and the professors were constantly available for guidance and assistance in the courses. This connection with the German Department and my great experience in Trier encouraged me to further study German. I returned to Germany for a spring semester in Tübingen because I missed the country and wanted to further improve my language abilities.
Kenneth Wei-Jun Wong, COL’09
I was accepted into the MA progam in International Law and Government here at Georgetown University for the fall of 2009. My professional plans following completion of graduate school include a career as a Foreign Service Officer or working for the promotion of international law in international, specifically transatlantic, relations.
My experience as a German major has been a fascinating and truly rewarding journey. Throughout the past four years I have read German classics such as Tristan and Isolde, written my honors thesis with literary prize winner Felicitas Hoppe from Berlin, and studied a variety of topics, ranging from German business to Romanticism. Outside the classroom, I spent the summer following my sophomore year in Trier where I lived with a German host family, assisted mentally-challenged patients at the Catholic Diocese, and worked as an intern at Schloss Wachenheim, the world’s leading sparkling wine producer.
Each step along the way I have been fully supported by the German department and its incredible faculty. My academic advisor encouraged me to study abroad in Trier and constantly challenged me to explore my true interests. The faculty’s passion for teaching, coupled with genuine care and concern for students made classes both enlightening and enjoyable.
Herzlichen Dank für alles!
Ken graduated from the College in 2009 with a major in German and minors in History and Finance. Raised in Hong Kong, he now resides in New York, where he works in the Investment Banking Division at Morgan Stanley.
Kirrin Hough, COL’09
When I first entered Georgetown, I had never imagined that I would become a German major. It was ultimately my experience in the Georgetown German Department that convinced me to major in German and played a key role in shaping my years as an undergraduate through coursework, study abroad opportunities, and extracurricular activities.
In the summer of 2006, I studied abroad in Trier, Germany, where I took part in a six-credit service learning colloquium and interned at Raphaelshaus, a home for the psychologically ill. This unique opportunity allowed me to expand and practice my German outside the classroom setting, while learning about the social service system in Germany.
I spent the spring semester of my junior year studying abroad at Eberhard Karls Universität in Tübingen, Germany. This small, picturesque university town provided me with an interesting perspective into German student life as I came into contact with students not only from Germany, but around the world. Indeed, spending a semester abroad proved an invaluable opportunity to experience another culture first hand and learn from others who held a different world view.
During my senior year at Georgetown, I had the opportunity to take part in the German Honors Thesis program. I examined the concept of “world citizenship” in Germany, specifically looking at the multilateral foreign policy that Germany has adopted since the end of World War II. This thesis served as the ultimate culmination of my time as a German major at Georgetown, testing not only my abilities in German, but also my ability to research, write and integrate various ideas and arguments into a comprehensive whole.
As a recent graduate from Georgetown, being a German major continues to open more doors. This past semester I interned at the Congressional Study Group on Germany, a forum that brings together lawmakers from Germany and the United States to discuss issues of mutual concern. Having a strong background in German and knowledge of German culture, has helped me to better understand many of the issues surrounding this transatlantic relationship. As I currently prepare for graduate school and explore various career options, I am certain that my time as a German major at Georgetown will continue to shape my future!
Katarvia Taylor, COL’08
I came to Georgetown from the Bahamas and began my studies with the plan of majoring in French and minoring in Latin American Studies. I enrolled in Beginner German the fall semester of my freshman year and enjoyed it so much that I decided to declare German as my 2nd major. That summer I participated in the department’s Trier summer program.
The faculty of the German department was absolutely incredible. The classes were taught in such a way that I felt that being a German major advantaged me in my other classes, as I was able to apply the skills and techniques to my other Georgetown classes. For example, the concepts that I learned in the Germany in Europe class that I took sophomore year provided a solid foundation for study abroad the spring semester of my junior year at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques in Strasbourg. I participated in European Week at the European Parliament and wrote on the role of the Ombudsman for my group’s report on “Strengthening the Legitimacy and Visibility of EU institutions.”
In 4 years the German department took me from zero knowledge of German to feeling comfortable reading and expressing my views on Brecht and Kafka. Moreover, I continue to apply the skills I acquired in classes such as Texts and Contexts in my professional life.
Currently I work as a staff assistant at the International Monetary Fund.
Nikki Shure, SFS’08
Freshman year at Georgetown, I signed up for Beginning Intensive German. I was also taking advanced Spanish and planning on doing a certificate in Latin American Studies, but I wanted to pursue German for family reasons. My mother is German and I could not speak it nor communicate with half of my family. Because of the German Department’s innovative methodology in teaching German, I was able to advance rapidly and soon had completed Intermediate Intensive as well. Fall semester of sophomore year, I was enrolled in Text in Context. This course pushed me out of comfort zone and helped me progress even faster in German.
Around this time I switched my study plans to complete a certificate in German and European Studies at the BMW Center. Discussions in courses about Turkish immigrants in Germany fascinated me. I signed up to spend my junior year at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich, the perfect fit for my International Economics degree and German and European Studies certificate. At Georgetown, taking courses like Business German fit into my SFS certificate program; Munich has one of the best econ programs in the world and continued this balance.
Going abroad was one of the turning points of my academic career. Upon returning, I knew I wanted to go back after graduation. I continued my coursework in German by taking Literature of Migration and applying for a Fulbright Research Grant to Germany. At the same time, I also applied to a master’s degree program at the Freie-Universität-Berlin in Intercultural Education. My Georgetown German professors supported me through this process by critically assessing my proposal ideas. The small size of the department allowed me close contact with all of my German professors and helped define my time at Georgetown, even though I was neither a German major nor minor.
I am currently wrapping up my Fulbright year in Germany and have already completed my master’s program. I will stay in Germany for at least another year and working on issues of political participation and education of immigrants. Eventually, I will complete a PhD in economics with a strong focus on the German school system and integration of immigrants. My time spent in the Georgetown German Department has been critical in my accomplishments and future goals.
The photo shows students and myself taking part in the intercultural dance project “Tanz für Toleranz” that I initiated at two Berlin schools during my Fulbright year.
Alison Sluiter, SFS’08
I returned from a year as an exchange student in Germany through the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange Program about one month before beginning my freshman year at Georgetown. My experience in Germany was wonderful, and I was anxious to keep practicing my newly-acquired language skills. I enrolled in Issues and Trends, the preparatory course for the proficiency exam, during my first semester.
Although I was neither a German major nor minor, I consistently felt supported by all the professors I had for my German courses. Professors in the German department were extremely helpful in terms letters of support and language evaluations for various study abroad programs. I spent the summer between freshman and sophomore year at the Freie Universität in Berlin participating in a program funded by the European Recovery Program. My professor during the spring semester of my freshman year helped me prepare my application (in German) and I am convinced that it was because of his assistance that I received the scholarship.
I spent the spring semester of my junior year at the Humboldt Universität in Berlin through a Georgetown study abroad program. As a Regional Studies: Russia, Central Asia, and Eastern Europe Major, I had the opportunity to take a number of very interesting courses about the former Yugoslavia and the ICTY in German. My German courses at Georgetown prepared me well for both essay composition and giving academic presentations in Berlin.
I was required to write a thesis for my certificate (like a minor) in Justice and Peace Studies and chose to focus on educational attainment and barriers faced by female students of Turkish ancestry in Germany. I had become particularly interested in this topic after taking Professor Sieg’s Literature of Migration course. In order to complete my own research, I applied (through the assistance of the German Department) for a short-term research grant from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). The grant enabled me to spend one month in Berlin conducting classroom observation at a Gymnasium in Berlin-Neukölln, as well as the chance to interview a number of politicians and academics.
Currently, I am volunteering for a women’s organization (BOSFAM) in Tuzla, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Many Bosnians were refugees in Germany during the war in the 90s, and there is a long history of migration from the Balkans to Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. I am surprised and pleased each day by how handy my German speaking abilities are here. Just last month I traveled to Linz, Austria to give a presentation about BOSFAM’s work in German for an audience of over 300 people. Thankfully, I was well-prepared for this experience as a result my German classes at Georgetown.
I hope to matriculate in a MA Program in Germany next year, and have once again been supported by the German Department with my application. Vielen Dank für Ihre Hilfe und Unterstützung!
Patrick Costello, COL’07
Having taken German for three years in high school, I came to Georgetown in 2003 knowing I wanted to major in German and that I wanted to take advantage of opportunities Georgetown offered for study abroad. I started with Intensive Advanced German my first semester, and I really liked how the Department’s classes were interdisciplinary in nature and brought in aspects of German politics, history, and culture from the beginning. The German major was flexible enough to enable me to do a second major in Government as well.
During my junior year, I spent a semester at the University of Vienna in Austria. It was a great experience, and the department’s relationship with the Uni. Wien helped me to take classes that were a perfect fit for my majors in German and Government. The small size of the German department is great not just in terms of classes and other activities, but it has also made it easy for me to stay in contact with Professors even after leaving Georgetown.
I graduated from Georgetown in 2007, and after working at a law firm in New York as a Legal Assistant for two years, I moved to Berlin for a Fulbright Scholarship in September 2009 to work as an English Teaching Assistant. Being a Fulbright ETA has been a lot of fun and incredibly rewarding, both on a personal level and in terms of helping me to plan for graduate school. I just finished up my Fulbright year in Berlin, and I’ll be starting my master’s program in the fall for European Studies at the London School of Economics in England.
The picture above is of me with some of my students from the 12th grade English Leistungskurs at my school, the OSZ Recht in Berlin-Charlottenburg.