Photo Credit: Student Spotlight McKenzie Nelson
Tue, 02/07/2023 - 13:45

Above: McKenzie Nelson (third from left) on the top of the Reichstag (Parliament) building in Berlin, Germany with other UNL students during a study abroad trip.

Majors: German, global studies
Minors: Conflict and conflict resolution studies, history, human rights and humanitarian affairs, Jewish studies, political science

Why did you select your majors and minors?
Coming into college I had already decided to be a global studies major, and then after my first semester I added a German major. Both of these programs are smaller which has allowed me to be a part of tight-knit communities at UNL. I have also enjoyed the flexibility that my majors have given me so that I can explore my interests in other areas and add minors.

What is your favorite course you have taken from your areas of study and why?
My favorite course I took was Germ 302 "Contemporary German Culture: Film, Literature, Theater". Part of the reason that I enjoyed it so much was that my homework was to watch movies, but it also really helped with my German skills. It was my first 300-level course which I pushed me to produce German at a level I had not previously. Everyday I would walk out of class having learned something new.

Who have been some of your strongest mentors or role models here?
Throughout my years on campus I have had many different mentors that impact my life greatly. The first mentor I had was Dr. Emira Ibrahimpasic, who taught my "Introduction to Global Studies" class. During my first semester I met with her and we laid out what my 4 year plan for both my classes and different opportunities to apply, which I still have. Her investment in and care for her students is unmatched. She was the first person to tell me about almost every opportunity that I have had these past 4 years and one of my greatest cheer leaders.

Do you have research experience?
The area of interest that I am most interested in is linguistics.

For my thesis I wanted to focus on something that combined aspects of both of my majors, German and global studies, with my interests. My research has focused on finding the best ways for foreign language teachers to be gender inclusive, specifically in the German and English teaching contexts. In order to do that I have interviewed participants in German and English about their experience learning a foreign language and their thoughts on the current methods that are suggested for foreign language teachers. The inclusion of German native speakers' perspective is extremely important because the limited research available almost explicitly considers the English speaker's perspective.

Have you had an internship or job? How do your majors helped you with it?
All of the internships that I have had focus on teaching English to non-native speakers. I first heard about these types of internships in my "Introduction to Global Studies" class and was encouraged to apply. My internships led me to seek post-graduation opportunities to teach English.

Study abroad experience:
This past summer I studied for 6 weeks in Berlin as a part of the faculty-led program. While I was there I took German language courses and a theater course. In the afternoons I got to explore Berlin and the surrounding areas.

A part from growing my knowledge of German my experience in Berlin helped me to prepare for my post-graduation plans.

What are you involved in on campus or in the community?
I am involved in German Club, where I am a part of the executive team, on the leadership team for CAS Ambassadors, a student representative for the CAS Curriculum and Advising Committee, and the Innocents Society.

What are your plans after graduation?
I have applied for programs in Germany and Austria so that I can teach English to non-native speakers.