German Studies & Government
Choosing to pursue a major in German Studies was one of the best decisions I made during my time at W&M. From my very first day of Modern German Critical Thought with Professor Leventhal back in 2017, I knew I had found a program that would help me improve not only my language skills, but my intellectual capabilities.
Over the past four years, my passion for German language and culture presented me with countless opportunities to learn and grow. From learning about the Holocaust on a study away program to interning with a tech start-up in Munich, my German Studies major allowed me to travel, engage with scholars, and deepen my understanding of the world. I also was able to build genuine relationships with my fellow German Studies students, many of whom are moving on to pursue incredible opportunities in the German-speaking world.
Next year, I will begin my education in international law at the University of Michigan Law School. Inspired by my undergraduate majors in German Studies and Government, I also plan to pursue a graduate certificate in European and European Union Studies. I am excited to see what my future holds, and I know it all would not have been possible without the support of my MDLL professors and peers.
A special thank you to Professor Leventhal, Professor Gülly, and Professor Ellis for their mentorship these past few years. I hope they know that their patience, guidance, and encouragement meant the world to me.
When I first began studying German in high school, I had no idea of the lasting impact it would have on my life and my studies in college. I decided to take one of Professor Leventhal’s courses during my very first semester and fell in love with the German Studies program. I enjoyed seeing how close-knit the students were and the strong relationships that they were able to form with the professors. With encouragement from Professor Leventhal, I decided to declare a double major with German Studies. I’ve greatly enjoyed all of my German Studies classes as well as my time as a TA for the department, and I can truly say that I am friends with all of my fellow German Studies majors.
One of the highlights of my college experience was my study abroad in Potsdam, Germany the summer after my freshman year. Over the course of the program, I forged strong bonds with my fellow German Studies students, many of whom are graduating with me, and with our program leader Frau Gully. I loved living in Berlin and was able to greatly improve my German skills with the help of my host family, who I am still in touch with today.
Next year I will be putting my German skills to good use as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Germany. Afterwards I will be returning stateside to begin medical school at George Washington University in 2022. I know that I would not be where I am today without the guidance of my professors, especially Professor Leventhal and Professor Gully, and I can’t thank them enough for all of their guidance over the past four years.
I started by taking German language course in my first semester in college, mostly for really loving classical music and wanting to travel to Germany and Austria one day. But Professor Gülly, who was teaching the course at that time, helped us go beyond the language itself and introduced me to topics such as European immigration, Berlin in the Cold War and the aftermath of Nazism. I was surprised yet so fascinated by the many connections between German Studies and my other interest in politics. Before I knew it, I have taken courses in German history, philosophy, literature and films so that becoming a German major just seemed like the natural thing to do (I still remember how vigorously Professor Gülly attempted to talk everyone on the study abroad program in Potsdam who was not already in German Studies into doing a major or minor, and yes, she often succeeded).
The fall immediately after the Potsdam program, I took Professor Leventhal’s German philosophy course. For the first time I was systematically introduced into the vast body of German critical thought, and became deeply fascinated by such thinkers as Marx, Benjamin, and Heidegger. The course completely changed my intended academic direction from European politics to political philosophy. Long story short, now I am about to start my doctoral work in political philosophy, specifically German Critical Theory.
The faculty at the German studies program have shown me not just what it is like to love what you teach but to love teaching itself. I hope to emulate it in my own academic career.
German Studies & Psychology
The German Studies Department has shaped me as a scholar and person. Our lessons have solidified my interest in promoting human rights through an in-depth study of the Holocaust and through the department’s support in helping me bring Holocaust survivor Frank Shatz to the College in 2019. The department also supported me in studying in Germany in 2020 and in starting up the German Newspaper--experiences which have allowed me to develop my language and leadership skills.
Although I find the German Studies class material innately interesting, it has been my professors who have made this experience memorable. Professor Leventhal was there to help me when I was having academic-related problems due to the pandemic in 2020, and it was wonderful and calming knowing that my department was there to support me. Professor Ellis has been my honors advisor since 2019, and has always been positive, kind, and flexible with me, especially when I needed it the most. Professor Burney is without a doubt one of the coolest professors at W&M, Professor Gülly is eager to assist students--even ones she has not taught, like me--to help them reach their goals, and I am thankful for Professor Taylor for allowing me to overuse office hours when I first came to W&M and helping me enroll in my study abroad program.
I am also thankful for the German Haus. This is where I have met some of my greatest friends at W&M. We still keep in touch years later.
From playing soccer on the Sunken Gardens to cookouts outside of Randolph, our department feels like a family, and I will always be grateful for that.
In regards to my post-W&M plans, I will serve as a teaching assistant in Vienna for this upcoming school year!
German Studies & Computer Science
Even before arriving at William & Mary, I was sure that I would be following one of my greatest passions in life: the study of the German language. Through the help of everyone in the German Studies program, I deepened my understanding of both the German language and culture. At first, I, like many others, was unsure of how far I would take my language studies, but as I took class after class, I realized that there is much deeper knowledge and appreciation to be gained through cultural studies than just the rote study of language. After this realization, I put in my paperwork to become a full double major and I cannot be happier with that decision.
My German studies climaxed with the fulfillment of a personal goal to someday go to Germany after I had reached competent speaking ability. In the winter and spring of 2020, I studied abroad in Berlin where I surprised myself with my ability to blend into another culture. Despite being cut short due to the pandemic, the months that I spent immersed in a foreign but familiar culture will be cornerstone memories in my life.
I want to thank everyone in the German Studies program for educating me as well as they did. Specifically: Bruce Campbell for introducing me to the modern city and Lang's Metropolis, Veronika Burney for strengthening my grammar and knowledge of children's shows, Jennifer Gülly for leading me through the rich history of German classical literature, and Robert Leventhal for showing me that even the most bland text can have meanings deeper than I could ever imagine. Without such passionate professors, I never would've made it to where I am.
I will be working after graduation as a programmer using my Computer Science degree.
German Studies & Economics
Being a part of the German Studies program at William and Mary has been one of the most rewarding and fulfilling parts of my undergraduate experience. I have improved and gained skills in conversation, critical thinking, literary analysis, and even teaching. I am thankful for Professor Gülly, who not only helped me become a TA as a freshman, but supported me in every aspect of my undergraduate career and believed in my language skills even when I did not. I am thankful for Professor Taylor, who did an independent study with me and never failed to make me laugh, Professor Leventhal is an amazing resource and faculty advisor who truly cares about his students, and Professor Burney, who helped me complete my senior capstone as a sophomore and never hesitated to stay back and help me when I was struggling.
As I look back on my time at William and Mary, I am extremely grateful for the experiences and people I have met through the German Studies program. The close-knit community that the Modern Languages Department has fostered allowed me to find lifelong friends and a community at William and Mary that supports me. I truly cannot imagine my undergraduate experience without the support from the faculty and students in the German Studies program and I am excited to see where my German skills take me.
German Studies & International Relations
Studying German Studies at William & Mary provided an amazing variety of educational and cultural experiences that helped set the course for my future plans. While improving my German language skills, the German major also introduced me to some of my best friends and helped make my college experience one of fun and intellectual stimulation.
My German professors are phenomenal people and educators and have played incredibly important roles in my education. Whether reading children’s literature with Professor Burney, studying abroad in Potsdam with Professor Gülly, watching German horror movies with Professor Taylor, discussing colonialism with Professor Ellis, or reading Kafka with Professor Leventhal, I was guaranteed to expand my horizons and improve my German language skills. As a Teaching Assistant for four semesters, the German major improved my communication skills and allowed me to interact with and help dozens of other students as they figured out the basics of the German language. The Potsdam summer program provided an amazing experience with a fast-paced language curriculum and a diverse array of German cultural activities.
My German skills helped get me a summer job at a deli near my home due to my ability to pronounce the names of different meats and cheeses. And I am confident there will be many more opportunities that come about due to the German Studies Program. Regardless of what I end up doing after William & Mary, I know my German major will help me navigate the post-college world.