I learned what humanity means

By Katie Hirv ’22

Hannah Sprague’s Wartburg experience took her around the globe and immersed her in the Spanish culture and language.

“My freshman year, I went to Costa Rica for May Term as part of the Spanish program. Then last year, I got to go to Spain for the Fall Term and study at the University of Alicante. Those were definitely very cool experiences and have defined my experience at Wartburg,” Sprague said. “There were about 60 other students from all over the U.S. there. It was right on the Mediterranean Sea. Everything was outside, and it was a really big campus. We did what they call ‘track class,’ which is basically a Spanish grammar class. I also took socio-linguistics and multiculturalism, as well as a Spanish literature class.”

However, Sprague’s collegiate plans didn’t initially include Wartburg during her college search.

“I came here for band camp one summer and decided I didn’t want to come here because it was too small and it just didn’t feel like the right fit. I ended up applying to other schools and got a letter from the band director (Dr. Craig Hancock) as I was about to make my decision. It said I should consider applying to Wartburg. I really connected with him during band camp,” Sprague said.

As a clarinetist in Wartburg’s Wind Ensemble, an ensemble comprising the college’s finest wind and percussion players, Sprague was able to travel to Japan in 2019, where they performed in various locations and explored different cities.

Hannah Sprague

Reflecting back on her childhood, Sprague knew that pursuing both Spanish and English majors would be in her future.

“I was always the kid reading in the car in the 20 minutes to school and on the bus and everything. I’ve always liked writing, too. With Spanish, that always really clicked with me. I started Spanish in elementary school and always really enjoyed it,” Sprague said.

As she prepares for graduation, Sprague sees how helpful her Spanish major will be as she plans for her next step.

“It’s a really versatile major and it’s just really helpful to have that knowledge of Spanish. Any employer is going to appreciate having that second language to communicate in. Having those study abroad and immersive experiences built into the major really opened my eyes to the rest of the world and how to be open to other people, which I think is something we really need in our society right now. For me, it’s not only going to be helpful for getting a career, but also for my personal experiences. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to travel outside of the country again, but I got to do that while I was here,” Sprague said. “I learned what humanity means and where I fit into the world. We’re all human, and just because we’re different doesn’t mean that it’s bad.”

Sprague plans on pursuing a master’s degree in library science post-graduation, with hopes on becoming a librarian. Her current top choice is the library science program the University of Iowa offers.

“Coming in, I really didn’t know what I wanted to do with Spanish and English. I just knew that those were going to be really versatile majors that I could do almost anything with. I’ve always loved editing and books. Through my experience here, I discovered my passions and what I really wanted to do,” Sprague said. “I think that it would be super helpful to be able to speak Spanish in whatever community I end up in and be able to direct people to whatever resources they need.”

As she prepares for the next stage in her life, Sprague knows how influential the Wartburg experience has been in both her personal and professional growth.

“Everyone says that college is the best four years of your life, and while I don’t really know that for sure yet, they’ve definitely been a very fun four years. I really feel I’ve been well-prepared for the future. And I know that I’ve made friends here that I can count on for the rest of my life and made connections that I know are going to last through the rest of my life. Being at Wartburg has really helped me figure out who I am and what I want to do while learning more about the world.”