‘Study abroad was a vital part of my Wartburg experience’

NAME: Jane Pinkowski

HOMETOWN: La Crosse, Wisconsin  
MAJORS: Spanish and sociology
CAMPUS INVOLVEMENT: Cross-country, indoor and outdoor track, Scholars Program 

HOW DID YOU CHOOSE YOUR MAJORS: Coming in, I knew that Wartburg had a strong Spanish program that would not only help me grow in the language but also as a human being in the world. It has done just that. In my classes, we have never learned Spanish for the sake of learning Spanish, but rather for its application to our lives and others’ lives and its ability to change them. Studying sociology has helped me to think about the world in new ways. I know that with my sociology degree, my Spanish degree will be more impactful, as I will have the skills to effectively work with different people in different environments and to question the world around me to help create a more just society. I think about the concepts we have discussed in my sociology classes every day – as I walk across campus, read the news, travel to new places, and observe the inequality and oppression of society around me.

WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS AFTER GRADUATION: I will be using my Spanish to work in a bilingual advocacy position, hopefully with the immigrant and refugee community in the United States.

Jane Pinkowski

HOW HAS WARTBURG PREPARED YOU FOR THE FUTURE: The Spanish department could not have prepared me better to use my Spanish in a professional setting. Because of the extensive practice I have gotten at Wartburg using my Spanish to express my thoughts and arguments thoughtfully and practically, I now find it just as natural to write essays in Spanish as in English. This is something I never would have imagined when I entered college, and something that gives me a great deal of confidence as I head to use my Spanish in a professional setting. I know that I will be able to express myself in my second language with confidence. Additionally, because of Wartburg’s focus on a liberal arts education, I feel well-prepared for varied facets of my future professional life well beyond Spanish. I feel that I could excel and be happy in a variety of careers and settings, as well as work together with other professionals who may have a different focus than my own. Finally, the study away coordinator and scholarship adviser at Wartburg, Kathleen Sihler, has prepared me to advocate for myself, take initiative, and believe in my capabilities, things that will serve me well in any field of work I may choose to pursue in the future.

WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF IN THE LAST FOUR YEARS: I am most proud of my growth in my ability to take care of my mind and body that has happened during my time at Wartburg. Being a three-season distance runner as well as a motivated student was at times difficult to balance. However, with help from my coaches and professors, I learned the importance of taking care of my body and mind at the same time as running and doing school – sleeping enough, eating well, drinking enough water, and resting when needed. This was something that I struggled with in high school, and I am so thankful to have learned its importance during undergrad, as it is something that will serve me for the rest of my life.

HOW HAVE YOU EMBODIED ONE OF WARTBURG’S FOUR PILLARS: The pillar of learning is something that I have embraced and appreciated during my time at Wartburg. Throughout all my classes, across different disciplines, my learning throughout the last four years has built on itself. Not only can I write a research paper, but I can write it in Spanish, apply it to the needs of society, defend my arguments with sound research methods and statistics, and present my findings in a creative format like a poetry collection or a poster. My education would not be complete without all of these different aspects of learning from different areas and disciplines coming together.

WHAT IS ONE MEMORY YOU WILL ALWAYS HAVE FROM YOUR TIME AT WARTBURG: Studying abroad in Santiago, Chile, is an experience I will never forget. Without Wartburg, I never would have been able to afford to study abroad, and I consider it a vital part of my Wartburg experience. There is nothing like independently exploring a beautiful city of 8 million people, biking through a canyon in the Atacama Desert, hiking next to a glacier in the Patagonian mountains, and conducting all of your day-to-day activities in a second language to put your life and worries into perspective. Studying abroad taught me things about the world, others, and myself that I never even knew I didn’t know.