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Alumni Testimonials

Ella-Reed.jpgElla Reed, ‘20, German Studies, Physics, and American Studies Major 

Entering college I had no idea that I wanted to begin a degree in German Studies — all I knew was that I wanted to continue learning the language. After my first undergraduate year, I already felt like I was a part of the German Studies community. I instantly formed a close connection with my professors, many of whom I am still in touch with today, and decided to make German one of my majors. This decision significantly influenced my academic career at Richmond as well as my postgraduate opportunities.

With the encouragement from professors, I was able to complete the summer program in Berlin. There I lived with a host family that did not speak any English, which provided a full immersion experience that helped to solidify my conversational skills. This program really pushed me outside of my comfort zone and ignited a passion for other cultures and languages. A year and a half later, I returned to Europe to study in Vienna during the fall semester of my junior year. Thanks to the level of the courses taught at UR, I was fully equipped to take all of my classes in German. The presentations, debates, and readings assigned in the courses at UR more than prepared me for what was to come. I was also given the amazing opportunity to work as a Drill Instructor for two semesters my senior year. This allowed me to grow closer to the German Studies faculty and practice a different skill set.

My study abroad experiences were incredible, but it was when I started to consider postgraduate routes that my German major made all the difference. While I had always dreamed of receiving a Fulbright Grant following graduation, I truly never imagined I would reach the caliber of applicants needed to even make it past the first stage. It wasn’t until a German professor reached out encouraging me to apply that I decided to go for it. With the help of the rest of the faculty for the five months of working on the application, I received a Community-Based Combined Grant in Vienna, Austria. While there, I taught English to students ages 10-18, took classes at the University of Vienna, and worked with the international organization Refugees Welcome.

I have made so many connections through this program and would not be where I am today without it. When I return from Austria, I will be attending law school at Villanova University with a full scholarship. I plan to pursue a career in Immigration Law, which is largely due to my experiences abroad that I gained through German Studies.

robert presslyRyan McEvoy, '17, German Studies, International Studies, and History major

Majoring in German Studies unlocked priceless opportunities both during and after my time at Richmond. As an undergraduate, the rigorous curriculum equipped me with the linguistic and cultural competencies to complete two major research projects in Germany. I also availed myself of UR’s dynamic summer program in Berlin. My courses further fostered an interest in foreign cultures that led me on numerous additional international programs to countries including Poland and India.

With the support of the committed faculty, I won a Fulbright scholarship to teach English in Germany following graduation. There, I worked to foster cross-cultural exchange by instructing schoolchildren in the English language and American history. The advanced seminars in German Studies at Richmond, taught in very small classes and in close dialogue with professors, enabled me to comfortably take part in in complex discussions of history and politics with Germans and other Europeans.

The program in German Studies provided me with a sure foundation to begin law school. The Richmond faculty’s emphasis on critical engagement with texts sharpens a skill that is essential in legal scholarship and practice. My combination of German Studies with International Studies and History made me familiar with the type of interdisciplinary learning that is also found in the study of law at my current institution. Finally, the teaching at Richmond, in combination with my experiences abroad, cultivated an interest in exploring law at the international level. I am excited to launch my legal career in an increasingly globalized world made more familiar by German Studies.

robert presslyAileen Eichelberger, '16, German Studies and International Studies major, History minor

Returning to the United States in 2013 from a gap year as a high school exchange student in Germany, I was excited to start my studies at the University of Richmond. There, I enjoyed participating in German Studies courses where we discussed and analyzed topics of history, culture and current events. The small classes, which fostered plenty of opportunity to exchange ideas with classmates and professors, provided the perfect setting to hone my German skills.

I didn’t know it at the time, but the discussions, papers and presentations from my time at UR were giving me the tools I would need to embark on a German-language master’s program in Media Studies at the University of Innsbruck in Austria. The participatory and analytical nature of the German Studies programs at Richmond have prepared me to chime in with my Austrian classmates during seminar discussions, as well as dive into research endeavors and present my findings.

I plan to focus my studies on analyzing the similarities and differences in political media coverage between the United States and German-speaking countries. I’m glad that the interdisciplinary and interactive nature of the German Studies department at the University of Richmond has prepared me for this new and exciting challenge.

andrew thomasAndrew Thomas, ‘13, double major German Studies and International Business

With Germany’s position in the world today, being able to communicate in German or work in a German-speaking setting will certainly be of benefit to any student with his/her sights set on modern Europe. The UR German program set a solid foundation for my future career, and for that I am truly thankful. The academic rigor is part of what makes the German program superb. Students not only study German history and language, but also explore contemporary issues that affect German-speaking Europe. The German program is small, which meant that I had access to opportunities I would not have had at larger schools. I spent the summer after my first year taking language classes in Berlin, and the summer after my sophomore year I interned with a German company. Both opportunities were made possible by the resources and connections of the German program. I studied abroad for a semester of my junior year in Münster, where I took International Business classes in German. During my senior year, I applied for and was accepted to the Congress Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals, which allowed me to spend a  year after graduation living in western Germany, attending lectures at the University of Cologne and completing a five-month internship at a small consulting company in the Ruhr Area. I am now about to begin my graduate studies in International Business and Cultural Studies at the University of Passau in Bavaria.

jennifer huffmanJennifer Huffman, '10, International Studies and Leadership Studies major, German Studies minor

My German studies at Richmond have been influential in my career path. While I took German in high school, Richmond courses solidified critical grammatical foundations, primarily through extensive reading and writing.  During my junior year, I studied abroad at the University of Konstanz, one of Richmond’s partner institutions. Not only did immersion improve my confidence in listening and speaking, but it also piqued my curiosity in learning more about German culture. 

After graduation I participated in the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange Program (CBYX), a one-year work-study fellowship program, that added a professional dynamic to my German experiences. My language abilities honed at Richmond and Konstanz qualified me for advanced proficiency course, which later helped me land an internship in the German Bundestag, an extremely exciting opportunity for a dual International Studies and Leadership studies major and German Studies minor. These meaningful experiences and relationships solidified my next steps: some way, somehow, I would ensure that Germany continued to play a role in my professional life.

After CBYX, I pursued a Master’s degree in German and European Studies at Georgetown, where I concentrated in business-government relations to pivot my political background toward the private sector. Upon graduation I accepted a job offer in Frankfurt at a global strategic communications consulting firm, Brunswick. I advise global clients on developing and executing communications strategies on business-critical issues, primarily in the German market. Brunswick understood the value of hiring a native-English speaker locally who both speaks German fluently and understands the nuances of culture, business and policy making in Germany. My journey with the German language has come a long way since laying the foundations at Richmond – and it’s not over yet!