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Graduates: Where are they now?
Class of: 2014
Current Employment: Geocaching HQ
German has been a part of my life now for 18 years. I can say it has profoundly influenced my life and I would not be where I am today without it. I came from a poverty background with not much hope and a great deal of confusion of what I could do with my life, as everyone around me thought I wasn't good at fixing cars and should probably join the military.
I did not necessarily have my ticket out of my hometown—in fact, I really wanted to be a German teacher, mostly to inspire other children from tough backgrounds to have fun learning this language.
When 2014 came and I graduated, I did not have a job lined up, the desire for German teaching was there, but the jobs were not. I had to make a tough choice, but I did not want to settle, I wanted to reach for the stars and if I failed, it did not matter, because I really did not have much to begin with.
I promised myself I would get a job using German, or maybe one of the following disciplines: creatively writing (English or German), creating fun videos, or traveling abroad on business.
Currently, my job consists of everything on that list, and more. When I interviewed for the position I had to create content in German and be able to prove fluency for a business. I learned later I was up against another German speaker and that my fluency was strong both in writing and in part of the interview was with two native speakers. They decided to go with the other candidate initially, until they heard me speak in person after bringing me in as courtesy. Those speaking points pay off after all!
Now, 5 1/2 years later I've been promoted into a middle management position overseeing all of our social media, editor of our blog, work on localization daily, use German every day in the office, have published several articles in German about geocaching/travel and travel abroad to represent the company and give speeches (In German) on stage to thousands of people. I've even been featured in magazines as a rep from my company, and specifically interviewed for being a German speaker by a German magazine and why that's important for my company (it's REALLY popular in Germany). I've been interviewed by news sources in German and some Germans recognize me from marketing material, blogs I wrote, and content I've been a part of. People literally ask me for autographs and want their picture taken with me.
Our audience reaches into the multi millions world-wide, and I can honestly say that I never saw any of this coming and I never would have gotten this position without the German language and the education I got while learning this language.
I truly came from nothing - as sad as that sounds you know the end of the story. I know there is probably someone reading this that may feel like they are in the same boat. Know this:
That boat may have a complicated knot to untangle, but eventually through all the struggle, your ability to untangle that knot will increase and eventually you too will be out to sea exploring the life you were meant to lead.
The picture above features myself and two others of two Oswego State Alumni at the Geocaching Holiday Christmas party at the Space Needle this year. I hired them and wanted to give this same opportunity to them, because of how the impact this company has had on my growth and for my love for language. Eric Worrell (German speaker) is featured on the left and Megan Twamley (French speaker) is on the right.
Class of 2007
Current Employment: German company Lidl. Just started to add their stores to the United States in 2017. Already in 32 countries and growing allows me to work in other countries when the opportunities present themselves.
Learning German and having the experience to live abroad has helped me with my career path. It has also helped me with confidence and leadership. Since Lidl is a German based company, I help translate materials written in German, as well as having the privilege to be able to speak with the new CEO for Lidl US in German. The store I manage in Virginia has a huge military\navy presence and several shoppers are from Germany as well.
Being exposed to Germany as an exchange student after high school was like a door opening to so many new experiences. It wasn’t until college that these experiences were able to become a true passion.
I was lucky enough to serve my senior year of college in Osnabrück, Germany. Being in an area where several exchange students are studying similar majors and the only way to communicate is through the language you are studying is a once in a lifetime experience. When you live abroad, study and work with no limitations, you know you are a success!
The connections you make through your professors and exchange programs never fade once you graduate. Fourteen years later, I still keep in contact with my German family and friends I met abroad as well as an amazing professor in college who has always pushed and supported me to reach the success they knew I was capable of. In a way, I got a bonus family through my studies of German.
Class of 2021
Current Employment: US teaching assistant in Austria - administered by Fulbright Austria through the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education, Science and Research (BMBWF)
At Oswego, I studied both adolescence education and German language and literature. I will be using both my knowledge of German and education to become a foreign language teacher of German. During my studies, I did a semester abroad in Graz, Austria, where I put my language skills to the test and drastically improved. Learning German not only helped me communicate with others, but also helped me completely immerse myself into another country’s culture. Currently, I am living in Vienna, Austria and am working as a US teaching assistant, where I work in two Austrian schools and help teach the students English as well as share the culture and educate students on the United States. I use German every single day, as I am living in a country where the national language is German. Whether it is helping a student translate a word, ordering at a restaurant, or just having a conversation, my knowledge of German has taken me a long way and helped me adjust to Austrian life and culture. I am so grateful to have studied German in college!
Learning and studying German may seem hard at first, but the knowledge and experiences you gain from learning it are so worth it! Not only do you gain the skill of learning another language, but you can also experience an entire new world through a new culture and traveling to new countries! Learning German can open so many doors for you in both your professional and personal life.
Class of: 2009
Current Employment: Night Audit Manager for Choice Hotels
My opportunity to study German was always more about personal enhancement than it was about gaining employment opportunities. It was about connecting to my heritage. It was about Wanderlust and Sehnsucht. A Romantic at heart, travelling to Germany was the chance to fulfill those urges and the logical continuation of my German studies.
At times it was about being an ambassador, talking to Germans about the American way of life, politics, and whatever else they were interested in knowing. It was an opportunity to see that generally people are more alike than they are different, and an opportunity like that makes the world a little bit smaller. It was understanding that your command of the German language didn’t have to be perfect (although you might end up eating an entire tureen of hot dog soup in Detmold if you’re too proud to explain you don’t understand the waitress), and that it was more about making an effort than it was about grammar rules. The latter are important, for sure, but not everything.
My knowledge of German gave me an opportunity to make memories for a lifetime. It wasn’t the easy travel of itineraries and fine hotels. It was being up for thirty-six hours at a time to maximize my rail pass. It was sleeping in train stations. It was sharing food, and drinking beer on the steps of the Hauptbahnhof with homeless people and disabled veterans from the former USSR. It was meeting people on trains and them playing impromptu tour guides in Nürnberg as the sun was rising, viewing the sleeping city from the Imperial Castle. It was standing with the home crowd in Hamburg as FC St. Pauli lost to Erzgebirge Aue and cheering with the home crowd the following day in Köpenick as 1. FC Union Berlin beat Alemannia Aachen. It was the view from Hermannsdenkmal. It was the beauty of Franconia. It was narrowly escaping certain death at Oktoberfest. There are so many other great memories, but my adventure in Germany started with the framework of my German studies at Oswego and the tools I learned to work with there.
His comments on the German language aside, Mark Twain was spot on when he said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime.” These words are perhaps more important than ever in today’s divisive climate.
Class of 2017
Current Employment: German Teacher at Vestal High School
Knowing German gave me the ability to study in Germany, get a Fulbright scholarship to work in a German school, and make me realize that I had a passion for teaching. German helped me not only be able to communicate with others, but it also helped me realize the importance of cultural understanding between people. It has motivated me to spread that understanding to my students so that they, too, would consider doing what I did, maybe even better.
My professors at SUNY Oswego were super supportive of me. I am so grateful to have been able to converse with so many like-minded scholars about the world around us.
Class of 2020, Masters
Current Employment: German Teacher at Mexico High School; Adjunct Instructor of German at SUNY Oswego
From being able to talk to my grandmother in her native language, to living abroad, to my current career, my knowledge of German has profoundly shaped my life. I currently have my dream job, teaching German at Mexico High School. I teach Levels 2, 3, 4, and 5, as well as GER 102 and 202 at SUNY Oswego. Through my job at Mexico HS, I now have the opportunity to travel to Germany for a few weeks every other year, through our partnership with KGS Schneverdingen (near Hamburg) and GAPP (German-American Partnership Program), at no cost to me!
Prior to acquiring my current job, I also was able to study at the Albert-Ludwigs Universität in Freiburg im Breisgau in 2018, thanks to my knowledge of the German language. While I was there, I traveled all around Germany, Austria, and France. I even had the opportunity to see where my grandmother grew up, and had her on FaceTime while I was there, which was a heart-warming experience.
Language education is a uniquely amazing experience. Whether you’re on the teaching or learning side of it, you make friendships and connections that will last a lifetime. No teacher, in either high school or college, will get to know you better than your language teacher. You feel a sense of community that cannot be found in any other subject. Not even to mention the greater sense of tolerance and understanding that comes with studying another language and culture. Learning a language may be difficult at times, but the outcome is remarkable. It makes you a more empathic and understanding person.
Class of 2006
Current Employment: German Teacher, Onondaga Central Schools
Learning German has completely changed and shaped who I am today. I’ve had so many life opportunities because of German. I traveled to and lived in Europe, I get to go back to Germany every couple of years and spend a few weeks, when I take my students there. I’ve made life-long friends because of the German language, my profession, and my time spent there. I couldn’t have done any of this without the amazing German program and instructors at Oswego.
Learning German or any language for that matter is something you won’t ever regret. It opens your mind and horizons to something completely new and different. It truly is life changing.
Class of 2013
Current Employment: German Teacher at Newark Valley High School
I started learning German in 8th grade and quickly fell in love with the language and the culture. The education I received at SUNY Oswego only furthered that feeling. I was provided with several opportunities to travel abroad and the professors at Oswego really helped me be able to do that both educationally and financially. I am now able to share my cultural experiences with my students and help their love of language flourish. I am also able to share with them opportunities that they would have otherwise not known existed. The Department of Modern Languages has some of the best professors I ever had at Oswego. They are really like a close-knit family and treat their students in a similar manner. They provide every opportunity they can, to ensure that you leave the college with the best language skills, by providing several field trips, concerts, Kaffeestundnen where you can practice your language skills, and they were always available to provide extra help and feedback on assignments. Anyone would be extremely lucky to be able to study a language here.