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Student Fascinated with German Found Fulfillment at Rutgers

A deep selection of courses plus Study Abroad 

German Major Megan

Megan Stanton was intrigued by German.

And she hadn’t even started middle school.

Growing up in Hillsborough, NJ, Stanton went to a fifth-sixth grade intermediate school where students could sample world languages, each over the course of a marking period.

“I thought German sounded funny at first,” says Stanton, now a Rutgers University–New Brunswick senior in the Class of 2020. “But I could see how logical it was in the way the sentences were structured and in how the words were pronounced or broken down.”

She soon became an outstanding student of German. In high school she took the National German Exam and won a scholarship trip to Germany for a memorable month in which she lived with a family and attended a gymnasium or advanced secondary school.

At Rutgers having great teachers and Study Abroad experiences is excellent preparation for life

She graduated high school knowing she wanted to study German and become a language teacher. And this week, Stanton is receiving her bachelor’s degree in German studies, and looking forward to another milestone next year when she’ll complete a five-year program with the Graduate School of Education in which she’ll earn a master’s in foreign language education and ESL.

"While I will be certified to teach both, I am leaning towards teaching ESL as my ultimate goal," she says.

At the same time, Stanton is seeing firsthand the challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic is presenting to teachers. At the onset of the spring semester, she was spending two days a week observing a high school German class and was just beginning to teach the students when the pandemic struck. She spent the remainder of the semester supporting the teacher from behind the scenes by making materials.

“This experience was valuable nonetheless, as I predict education will never be the same post-COVID-19,” she said. “If things are safe in the fall, I will be doing my full-time student teaching in a high school ESL setting, and then take my licensure exams.”

At Rutgers, Stanton enjoyed a deep and varied academic experience. The German program in the School of Arts and Sciences offers language instruction at all levels as well as a rich selection of courses that cover everything from philosophy to drama to art history to film.Megan German silo

Stanton says courses such as “Marx, Nietzsche, Freud,” taught by Nicholas Rennie, and “Introduction to Literature and Cultural Analysis” by Nicola Behrmann, were transformational in the way they opened her up to intellectual and literary traditions. And she said Martha Helfer’s “Fairy Tales Then and Now” helped her develop confidence and clarity as a writer.

“That course demands a maturity in student writing more so than some English courses,” she said.

She also took full advantage of the department’s Study Abroad program in Berlin. In the spring of her sophomore year Stanton spent a semester at the venerable research university, Freie Universität Berlin, where she took German language classes at an advanced level in the school’s Berlin European Studies Program.

“I was learning academic writing in German,” she says. “We learned a new writing style that was research based.

Although her main goal is to become a high school teacher, Stanton says studying German is also great preparation for careers in many other fields, including international business and diplomacy.

“I think by nature, learning German requires you to pay attention to a lot of detail,” she said. “The combination at Rutgers of having great teachers and the opportunity to apply your knowledge in Study Abroad experiences is excellent preparation for anything you want to do in life.”