Wartburg affirmed my love of history

By Katie Hirv ’22

With a family legacy of Wartburg graduates spanning four generations, along with living and growing up in Waverly, one could certainly say Andrew Newell ’21 has a history with the college. But it was a history major, along with minors in German studies and creative writing, that allowed this Outstanding Senior the opportunity to create his own Wartburg story while exploring   each and every one of his interests and vocations.

“I’ve always been interested in history as a subject, so I thought through studying it at Wartburg, I would be able to dive deeper into subjects that I was interested in,” said Newell.

As a Wartburg Knight, Newell has been immersed in German history and culture.

“May Term my freshman year, I studied abroad with the German program. We went to Germany for a month and did an intensive cultural immersion and German course in Marburg. Afterward, I stayed for an extra month in the city of Eisenach, completing work studies and practicums at different museums. I worked briefly in the Wartburg Castle and also worked in the Eisenach City Archives. That experience really affirmed my love of history,” said Newell.

Newell’s history major has also allowed him to have some domestic traveling opportunities that further developed his research skills.

“Two of the required courses for the history major are Historical Methods and the Capstone Historiography, both of which are meant to teach different aspects of research skills and teach lessons about how to write history and how to write for historians,” Newell said.  

Andrew Newell

“For Historical Methods, I was able to travel in between Waverly and Muscatine to analyze primary source documents, which was really cool and also taught me a lot about the process of archiving and where and how it can fail. This year, taking the history Capstone, most of my primary sources have not been in English. They’ve been in German. Tying the interdisciplinary aspect of my major and minors has been really necessary in order to succeed in my capstone. It’s been a lot of work, but it’s been so much fun.”

After graduation, Newell plans on pursuing a master’s degree in history at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

“Wartburg has given me some really unique opportunities and experiences that I think prepare me for an experience like grad school. Getting to study abroad in Germany and get experience in jobs related to history really made sure that I had experiences to know what I was doing,” Newell said.

In addition to his studies, Newell has been involved in multiple music ensembles, including Wartburg Choir, Ritterchor, the Wartburg Players, and Opera Workshop. One of his most recent music accomplishments ties back to his love of writing — one of his poems was transformed into a choral piece that was sung by the Wartburg Choir in their most recent concert.

“If I had to pin my favorite Wartburg memory down to a specific one, it would be the premiere of ‘A Departing Blessing,” which I wrote and Amelia Ouverson ’22 put to music. It was a culmination of everything that I’ve been working toward here at Wartburg in a co-curricular sense. I’ve had opportunities to present my academic work, and I feel like that’s very important to me and I’ll have plenty of opportunities to continue to do so in the future, but very few people ever get times to have their works put in front of the Wartburg Choir, and even fewer have the opportunity to have their works put in front of the choir as a student. It’s a very important moment in my life. I told my parents as soon as the concerts were over that my life was different now,” Newell said.

As he prepares for graduation and to continue his education in history, Newell remembers how important it was for him to discover himself and to do so unapologetically.

“Never apologize for who you are or for what you’re interested in. I spent a lot of time in my first two years at Wartburg trying to figure those things out for myself. If that means changing majors, finding different living situations, anything like that, all of that is extremely necessary to figure out who you are and where you need to be. I’m glad that Wartburg has given me the opportunities to figure both of those things out, as well as give me these unique opportunities that prepare me for life outside of my undergraduate career,” Newell said.