Learning German Worth the Effort for Three Alums

Why study German? Three young alumni offer their perspectives.

Monika Hasanbasic

Monika Hasanbasic, who double majored in German and education and graduated in 2010, is a German teacher at Bayless High School in St. Louis (Mo.) County.

Hasanbasic’s route to becoming a full-time teacher included a year as a permanent substitute at Bayless, a position to which she was alerted by Paula Hanssen, assistant professor of German and chair of the Department of international Languages & Cultures, and two Lindbergh High School teachers.  (Lindbergh was the site of Hasanbasic’s apprentice teaching while she was a Webster student, an experience that she gives an enthusiastic thumbs-up.)

“I was able to teach the content as soon as I started working.”

“I was fully prepared for an interview and had two great portfolios that I could show,” Hasanbasic said. “I was able to teach the content as soon as I started working. It was not easy working with over 100 students, but I was able to do it, thanks to my wonderful teachers and professors.”

Hasanbasic topped off her Webster degrees with a master’s degree in TESOL –Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages—in December and hopes to soon start work on a doctorate. She said her students ask a lot of questions about college and want to know how she graduated so quickly.

“I tell them that education is one of the most important things and that I always loved school,” Hasanbasic said. “The best part of my day is when I see that my students have learned something. I know it is not only my job to teach the students about the content but to also teach them other skills that will help them be successful in the future.”

Jamie Eckner

Jamie Eckner’s love of the German language and its country of origin has led her to a job in Hamburg with Johnson & Johnson. A team leader/coordinator, she heads up the company’s Continuing Medical Education Course Logistics group.

“As Johnson & Johnson is an international company, I use English and German on a daily basis,” Eckner said. “With my team and co-workers at the European Surgical Institute, I speak German, but we do offer courses internationally, and I speak English with our participants and partners from abroad.”

A double major in German and International Studies who graduated in 2003, Eckner also received a Webster M.B.A. in 2007. She said she first visited Germany as a high school student. From then on, she was hooked on the language as well as the country. While a Webster student, she took advantage of study abroad opportunities, not only spending a semester at the Vienna campus, but taking part in the International Business Internship Exchange. Upon graduation, she spent a year in Germany as a participant in the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange.

Webster offered “so many opportunities to be in German-speaking countries…”

“In my opinion, it is impossible to learn a language without the opportunity to use it. Had Webster not offered so many opportunities to be in German-speaking countries, I would have gotten bored or frustrated and given up on the language.”

Eckner has high praise for her German education at Webster. “Paula Hanssen and Christiane Carlsson were amazing teachers,” she said. “They made learning German fun and interesting. Their courses were more than just vocabulary and grammar. They managed to incorporate literature and modern culture into their lessons. They made us use the language and found opportunities for us to expand our knowledge of German.”

Ian Fisher

Ian Fisher, who minored in German and majored in political science, graduating in 2009, is a singer, song writer, and guitarist who frequently tours in Europe. A self-proclaimed “troubadour of the old breed,” Fisher studied for a year at Webster Vienna. “I had been to Europe twice before, but only as a tourist,” he said. “Webster gave me the legal ability to stay in Europe for an entire year, which I could not have received on my own.”

Fisher’s acclimatization to Europe made it easy to return, which he does on a regular basis as a performer, particularly to Germany and Austria. Knowledge of German is not necessary onstage, he said, English being an accepted language for vocalists.

“Europeans love American music,” he said. “Most of my European friends even sing in English. Thus, German hasn’t helped me on the stage that much, but it has come in handy at the supermarket and the immigration office.”

“My Webster education has given me theoretical roots in many historical, cultural, and political realities…”

Fisher credits his undergraduate studies for helping to make him a global citizen. “My Webster education has given me theoretical roots in many historical, cultural, and political realities that I wasn’t aware of before,” he said. “Being conscious of these realities has made living abroad and adapting to a new society much easier.”

Learn more about Fisher’s music at his website.

Read a Global Thinking article about alums who use Spanish in their careers.