Graduating Senior: Geneva Karr - German Studies 2017
Geneva Karr came to Lewis & Clark from Novato, California four years ago, and is now reviewing her experiences here as she prepares to graduate and move on to a master’s degree program. Some of her best experiences included studying abroad in Germany, going to Italy to participate in archaeological digs during the summer, and writing one of her two theses at the on-campus cafe Maggie’s, with coffee and friends all around. This interview has been edited for clarity.
What have been the highlights of your time at Lewis & Clark?
Studying abroad was definitely the highlight. It was not something I had necessarily planned to do, but has been something that changed the course of my life. I went to Munich for all of my junior year, and then I went to Italy during every summer (pretty much) for an archeological dig.
Professor Kelly with Geneva Karr ’17 and fellow students at an archeological dig site in Italy in 2014.That ended up happening because, during my freshman year, I was working with Gordon Kelly (the award-winning Classical Studies professor) and I asked him if he was doing any summer research that I could help with. He was going to this dig site in Italy and wanted to bring students for the summer, so he was basically like, “Well, I won’t be here doing research, but I’m going to this dig if you want to come along,” and that was something I couldn’t say no to. So, I ended up going to the excavation that summer and loved it, so I have been going every summer since. It’s what really got me started loving classical archaeology.
What activities did you participate in at L&C?
I was on swim team for my first two years here. But, I got two concussions and my schedule was just a little too full anyway so I had to stop. I was a resident advisor my sophomore year, and I’m an RCA (resident career advisor) this year. I used to work at the library at the circulation desk, and I’m also the co-leader of the Watzek Student Advisory Committee (SAC). We put on events every semester with therapy dogs and massages and all that.
What’s your favorite place on campus?
Maggie’s. I think my entire first thesis, except for maybe three pages, was written there.
How did you decide on your major?
I took Latin in high school and I really enjoyed it. I was pretty sure that I wanted to be a classics major and that I would want to add another major. I thought about doing science or religious studies, but I ended up deciding on German studies because it is sort of crucial to know the language if you want to pursue a PhD program in classics or classic archaeology since a lot of the documents and research are published in German. You need to be able to read it to really get that important part of the picture.
Once I started studying German here, I couldn’t stop. It was so much fun and I loved it because it was formulaic and made a lot of sense to me. I also learned a ton about the Munich overseas program, and heard about the great experiences that people had there. It’s such a unique program because it is so immersive: you’re really taking all of your classes in German, living with German students, and treated like a German student. Going into it with only a year of studying the language was definitely daunting, but after finishing the month-long summer program before to get ready for it, I felt confident.
I really solidified my German because I got a job working with ancient coins at a museum while I was there. It was a real job where I had to speak German and that helped me a lot. I was also really excited to work with classics stuff in a museum because that is definitely something I have considered for a career. I just loved working there so much.
What graduate programs did you apply to?
I applied to Tulane University, Villanova, and the University of Oregon for a masters in classical studies; to the post-baccalaureate program at the University of Pennsylvania; and for a research master’s at Oxford. I also applied for a scholarship through the German Academic Exchange program, which is through the German government using public funds to help students to study in Germany. I was offered one of those scholarships and so I am hoping to go back to Munich and study there. But the admissions decisions aren’t made until July, so I won’t really know until August whether I securely have a place there or not.
How did L&C prepare you to go into a master’s program?
It has given me a really good basis [in Classics] and fantastic critical thinking skills. L&C helped me to develop a love of learning that is useful all of the time with any field. The professors here really care about their students and they do a lot to make sure that you’re keeping up and are doing well otherwise. They are always willing to help and they give students a lot of opportunities in general. It’s really been great because L&C has helped me to pursue all of my interests.
Do you have any advice for incoming L&C students?
I think just know that everyone around you here really cares about you and wants to support you. It’s a safe and welcoming environment. So it’s okay to take chances that might make you uncomfortable but ultimately have the power to make you grow. Whether that’s studying abroad or trying out a new subject or class. Everyone will have your back if things don’t go well, so you should branch out and take advantage of these opportunities.