Wartburg helps transform students

NAME: Danielle Peterson
HOMETOWN: Watertown, Minn.
MAJOR: History and American history education

INVOVLEMENT ON CAMPUS: Wind Ensemble, Ambassadors, Wartburg Players

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE WARTBURG: I chose Wartburg because from the very first moment I stepped on campus during a Junior Visit Day, it felt like home. I honestly do not know how else to describe it, but I felt so welcomed and serene on campus. I also knew that Wartburg offered students the opportunity to be involved in a variety of activities on campus, and I was ready to dive right in! I wanted to keep music in my life, so the ability to earn a music scholarship AND play in the top audition band without majoring in music was also a heavy pull towards Wartburg!

HOW DID YOU DECIDE ON YOUR MAJOR: During my senior year of high school, I was able to participate in a mentorship program with our middle school, which allowed me to get into the classroom and observe what teaching was like. After that program, I decided that teaching was what I wanted to go into. I have always loved history, so that was an easy subject to choose, as I want to share my love of learning history with students. Adding a Spanish teaching endorsement happened during my first semester at Wartburg. I took a Spanish class from Dr. Zak Montgomery and I fell more in love with the language and became so enthusiastic to continue my own learning, while also finding my passion to teach it to others!

Danielle Peterson

HOW HAS WARTBURG SET YOU UP FOR SUCCESS IN YOUR FIELD: From day one at Wartburg, I was provided with opportunities to go into the classroom, visit with teaching professionals,  and be immersed in the Spanish language. All of my professors used their real life teaching and professional experiences to guide their classes, which provided students with those first-hand experiences before we even began our own careers!

I also just finished student-teaching this previous semester and that was an amazing experience! I worked with Jason Groth at Waverly-Shell Rock Middle School (7th/8th Social Studies) and Kris Ward at New Hampton High School (8th grade Spanish, Spanish II & Spanish III). While student-teaching, I worked with observing faculty from Wartburg, who observed me teaching in the classroom and offered valuable feedback that has helped me grow as a teacher.

WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE  FOR CURRENT STUDENTS: The biggest piece of advice I could offer to current students is to get to know your professors, especially your academic advisers! As you begin to think about life after Wartburg, your professors can be a great resource, as many of them have connections within their field that they can share with you. They also offer valuable insights and perspectives that challenge you to think more and become a better person. Schedule a meeting with your advisers at least once a term, as they can offer you so much!

WHO ARE YOUR MENTORS ON CAMPUS: Honestly, the list could go on and on! Wartburg is full of wonderful staff and faculty, and I have learned so much from them. My majors and endorsement allowed me to flow between multiple departments, so I got to know many faculty members on campus.

Dr. (Terrence) Lindell and Dr. (Daniel) Walther are both inspirations when it comes to historians, as they are both so knowledgeable and so enthusiastic about the field! The same can be said about Dr. (Zak) Montgomery in the Spanish department! His knowledge of the culture and language is so admirable and he is so easy to talk to! Dr. (Rick) Snyder was my professor and observing faculty for student teaching, and he always had great ideas and strategies to continue improving my teaching skills. Within my activities, Dr. (Craig) Hancock has by far been my biggest mentor. I played in the Wind Ensemble under his direction for all four years, and I have taken tuba lessons from him. He has taught me so many lessons, both musical and non-musical. I also worked in the bakery all four years and my supervisors, Mary Sjoka and Cindy Steere, have become my Wartburg “grandmas.”

WHAT WAS YOUR FAVORITE CLASS: My favorite class at Wartburg was my History Capstone class, Historiography. This class is offered for history majors, and we focus on researching how history has been written and conducted in the past on a specific topic. The final project was a research paper about one specific historical event and how different writings, perspectives, and information have portrayed the event. It was so fun to collaborate with other history majors, as well as work directly with Dr. Terrance Lindell to find sources, analyze them, and create our final papers!

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE WARTBURG MEMORY: My favorite Wartburg memory is a bittersweet memory. I will never forget spring of 2020, when we were sent home due to COVID-19. At our last official Wind Ensemble rehearsal, we played through our traditional concert blessing, “Nearer My God to Thee.” There was not a single dry eye in the room, as that song is so meaningful and we all felt the disappointment and sadness of how our year was ending. The following day, our rehearsal was canceled due to government stipulations about group meetings. Despite this, many members of the ensemble gathered outside to finish our year with traditions that would have otherwise been left behind, such as Senior Hug Line, singing “The Lord Bless You and Keep You,” and lip syncing to “It’s a Beautiful Day.” While that day was clouded by the sadness of a global pandemic, I will never forget the love, support, and laughter that we shared that day.

WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS AFTER GRADUATION: My fiancé (Jonathan Banse ‘21) and I will be moving to Charles City. In the fall of 2022, I will begin teaching 8th grade Spanish and Spanish I at Charles City High School.

WHY IS WARTBURG WORTH IT: Wartburg is Worth It to me because of so many factors. The overarching element, however, is the community spirit that is felt on campus. At Wartburg, everyone wants you to succeed. Professors help you to grow into young professionals who are ready to step into the workforce. Other students work to challenge and support each other, which creates lifelong friendships and relationships. The town of Waverly is so welcoming to Wartburg students and helps to nurture students who may feel homesick or lost. I truly believe that Wartburg supports its students to help them transform into the person they were meant to be.