Natasha Dionne Humphries
Undergraduate Major in German Studies
In examining the context of my relatively humble and obscure beginnings, my first introduction to the German language seems quite improbable. In a non-descript Alabama public high school, German was being offered as a pilot language program via satellite from Oklahoma State University (apparently, no native German speakers in either state). Now you might think this would very likely set the stage for a horrific series of daily exercises to fix my pronunciation (read “twang”). Fortunately, I had a “good ear” which allowed me to scuttle my southern drawl, and to speak German with effective mimicry.
When asked why I chose to learn German (unsurprisingly, I am asked this question often), I generally tell these inquiring minds my preference was actually to learn Russian (naturally more befitting of someone with a Russian first name like “Natasha”). However, Russian conflicted with AP Chem, and my successful plot for another GPA percentage point to finish salutatorian of my class. Later, responses to this question ranged from diversifying my candidacy in the med school applicant pool to being able to borrow course textbooks when all the English language versions had already been checked out. (The latter typically caused bewildered stares, but actually happened in Chem 31. True story.)
When I read Brian Stratford’s “destined to be homeless” remark in last year’s Crossings newsletter as a criticism of his decision to major in Spanish, I laughed out loud, and couldn’t help but think how well this comment must resonate with other students in the DLCL. As Confucius says, there are multiple paths, and I have demonstrated to myself and others that success will continuously be re-defined. What will I do with a German degree? Hmm...well, perhaps the same thing I’ve done since leaving The Farm. Traveling the world while running global business operations or partner management for Fortune 500 companies in Silicon Valley.
I would like to thank Professor Orrin Robinson for a new perspective on Grimms’ fairy tales; Falk Cammin for her unbridled passion in teaching German philosophy; Professor Petig for the opportunity to learn under his tutelage in an independent study of business German; and Professor Adrian Daub, Professor Russell Berman and Todd Kuebler for general support and guidance. I would like to also thank posthumously teaching fellow/doctoral student Herb Johnson III, who forever altered the trajectory of my course of study.
I currently work for the Xbox Design Team for the Interactive Entertainment Business unit at Microsoft, and revel in the delight of practicing German on unsuspecting colleagues. By the time of this publication, I will be sailing in the Bahamas with my son, scholar-athlete Eagle Scout, exploring coral reefs while snorkeling in the Sea of Abaco.