Emily Ostrom Graham is a graduate of the Class of 2004 and has taken her German degree with her throughout her career. Emily teaches German, English and ESL at Troy Area Junior/Senior High School in Troy, Pa. The German program comprises of over 70 students and offers levels I through V. At the highest level the students are engaged with advanced structures of the German Language, vocabulary in specialized areas such as politics, business and higher education.
Emily is also an active teacher and advocate of the German American Partnership Program (GAPP) with which the Troy Area School District is involved. This program is held in coordination with the Goethe-Institutes in Boston and NYC, which promote cross-cultural exchanges between young German and American students. It allows for the students to immerse themselves in a three-week stay with the students at Otto-Hahn-Gymnasium in Geethacht, Germany which the Americans reciprocate by acting as host for three weeks to the German students visiting Troy. (see photo at right)
Jack Conboy graduated Bucknell with a double major in German and Political Science and is currently working as an attorney in Manhattan. Following Bucknell, he attended law school at St. John’s University School of Law where he graduated in 2010 with a Juris Doctor (J.D.). Although in his current position he does not use his German degree directly, he still values all that it has helped him in to getting where he is today. During the interview for a past job, his boss took note of his German degree and spoke to him German to test his conversational ability. He says he conversed with his boss former in German in the office from time to time. “I would imagine that if we ever acquire a German-speaking client, I would be able to put my German to use in the workplace.”
After Bucknell, Laura Holmes joined Teach for America and later, furthered her studies at American University (AU) in Washington, D.C. While at AU completing a master’s degree in International Training and Education and a graduate certificate in TESOL, she also advised students in the University Honors Program. Language is a passion of Laura’s and although she does not directly use her German language skills every day, she says her "Bucknell experiences, including learning foreign languages and studying abroad in Berlin, were extremely formative.” She continues to reflect on her time in Berlin and the internship she completed at a German social service agency for refugees. The internship included conducting interviews, designing youth activities, and teaching ESL. She says, “This first-hand experience with refugees and their powerful stories has strongly impacted my personal and professional interests.” Laura currently works in international youth exchange programming in Washington, D.C.
Christopher Fox presently works for a German Company called REHAU. There he develops and designs geothermal piping systems which harvest energy from the ground to heat and cool buildings. Christopher interacts with Germans on a daily basis, giving him the opportunity to make use of his German skills through reading, writing and speaking. In July of 2012, Christopher moved to the corporate headquarters located in Germany, so having knowledge of the language in the home country will be of utmost importance. Although knowing the language is not critical for his position he says, “there is no doubt in my mind that I would not be where I am now without it.” He says it is his German skills that first grabbed the attention of REHAU during the hiring process and his German skills that have helped accelerate his career since. “If you want a skill which expands your horizons, open up new doors of possibilities, and is immensely fulfilling, learn a foreign language.”
Kacy Pechenpaugh is currently a PhD candidate in Second Language Acquisition and Teaching at the University of Arizona. She teaches 100-300 level German classes both at the University of Arizona and Middlebury College’s Summer Language Program. Having a German degree from Bucknell University has helped to drive Kacy’s career as a German professor forward.
Ilene Bach is a graduate of the Class of 2000 where she completed her degree in International Relations and German. She received the annual DAAD scholarship to go to Heidelberg, Germany. After completing her year there she decided to stay in Europe with her husband, where the two of them moved to Paris to further their studies. In 2002, she returned to Germany and took up fulltime employment with Weil, Gotshal & Manges LLP in Frankfurt. She says this helped her to perfect her German where she wrote legal briefs in German and English and translated documents. “It was also an eye-opening cultural experience because I was part of the integration of a prestigious, traditional German law firm into a flat, internationally active American law firm. The experience taught me volumes about the interaction of corporate and national cultures and how people respond to change.” Ilene then got the opportunity to work for a start-up law firm that specialized in German-American legal affairs where she took on many roles and responsibilities.
Currently, Ilene has returned to New York City where she worked for the German bank Landesbank Baden-Württemberg until 2006. She then went to complete her MBA at the Full Time Honors MBA program Baruch (CUNY). She has now moved to a new role in the NYC area as a Financial Analyst. Among all of this, although she does not use her German speaking skills in the workplace today she says the opportunities it has given her has helped to “immensely understand the globalized marketplace”.
At Bucknell, Alisa Karlsons received a double major in German and International Relations. Today she is an attorney in Washington, D.C. and practices Food and Drug Law with a special focus on food packaging. Her role includes assisting her clients in ensuring that the materials they produce or market for use in food packaging are safe and comply with applicable requirements established by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) both in the United States and abroad.
Continuing education post-graduation was what Alisa decided was best for her future. Her major “certainly did help me in applying to graduate school for international development.” In order to do international work, fluency in another language is required so having her German background allowed her to keep her options open. She also gets to use her German skills in the work place from time to time because the firm does have clients based in Germany and of a firm of 75 attorneys she is the only one that speaks German so she is often asked to assist when reviewing compliance material.
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