College of Humanities & Social Sciences

Alumni & Student News


2020/21 Outstanding Graduates: Chinese - Minkyeong Kang; French - Hannah Michak; German - Jessica Oravetz; Japanese - Coral Saville; Spanish - Brahm VanWoerden; Latin American Studies - Kara Henry!

Additional congratulations to Brahm VanWoerden for being selected as one of the 2021 Presidential Scholars

2019/20 Outstanding Graduates: Chinese - Shapei Baker; French - Sofia Jensen; German - Holly Lund; Spanish - Nancy Brill! Learn more about these students in Western Today

2018/19 Outstanding Graduates: Chinese - Kendall Kracke; French - Sarah Chute; German - Katherine Holdcroft; Japanese - Ryn Kaestner; and Spanish - Juliet Knowles! Learn more about these students and other CHSS grads in Western Today.  Over 100 students graduated with a language major during the 2018/19 year! 

Alumni Updates!

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Photos courtesy of Bahar OguzertemAfter graduating, Bahar Oguzertem'16, B.A. French and Russian & Eurasian Studies, spent 15 months in the tourism & hospitality industry. After that, began working at the Microsoft Executive Briefing Center in Redmond, WA, where she was hired specifically for her linguistic skills and multicultural understanding. Her team offers day-of logistical support for executive-level engagement with Microsoft engineering, sales, industry and business function to collaborate on digital transformational opportunities with its customers worldwide. She could also be found virtually on the company's distribution lists, volunteering to answer urgent language-related questions in a fast and efficient way when there isn't enough time for team leads/managers to get answers from localization vendors. On the side, she is currently working on completing her Level-5 TEFL certificate. 


Krautkraemer in Albi, France. Photo courtesy of Anneliese Krautkraemer.Anneliese Krautkraemer, '14, B.A., French and economics/environmental studies, spent seven months teaching English in Corbeil-Essonnes, a suburb of Paris, France, through the Teaching Assistant Program in France. After that, she moved to Toulouse, France, where she is currently enrolled in a master’s program for Environmental and Natural Resource Economics at the Toulouse School of Economics, home to 2014 Nobel laureate Jean Tirole. While there, she joined the student magazine, The TSEconomist, and is one of the Deputy Editors for the 2017-2018 school year. She is in the second and final year of the master’s program and will be graduating in November 2018. She hopes to work in an international setting where she can combine her French language skills and analytical skills to work on environmental issues. ✳




Widman proudly displays the US flag on her backpacking trip in Serbia, summer 2017. Here, she is at "Midzor," the highest point in Serbia at 7100 feet. Photo courtesy of Carla Widman.Carla Widman, '13, B.A. German and linguistics, completed her master’s in Intercultural Communication at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. Since then, she’s worked in international marketing and communications in Seattle, WA, taught beginner and intermediate German at Western, and is currently teaching English and a variety of other subjects at an elementary school in Munich. She stays busy running and climbing in the Alps and volunteering with a scouting program for city children in Munich. “I'm incredibly thankful for the rich foundation and close relationships with faculty and students I received at Western Washington University which literally 'opened the world' for me to additional educational opportunities as well as a diverse and interesting career,” Widman said. ✳


photo courtesy of Valeria.Valeria Fisher, '13, B.A., German and Sociology, was awarded a Fulbright fellowship to work as an English Teaching Assistant at a gymnasium in Potsdam, Germany. After that, she worked with fellow alumna, and one of her best friends, Caitlin Golden, at Amazon in Seattle as an investigation specialist for the German and Italian marketplace.  Now you can find her in the library at the Technical University of Munich. There, through a scholarship from the German Academic Exchange Service, DAAD, she is working toward her master’s in Consumer Affairs. “I’m excited to see what comes next,” Fisher said. “I’m always happy to hear from German at Western, and thankful for their endless support!” ✳





Golden poses in front of the Arab World Institute in Paris. Photo courtesy of Caitlin Golden.

A few months after graduating, Caitlin Golden, '10, B.A., German, was awarded a Graduate Scholarship through the German Academic Exchange Service, DAAD. She moved to Hamburg, Germany and enrolled in the University of Hamburg's Sign Language Linguistics Masters Program. There, she continued to improve her spoken and written German while learning German Sign Language, DGS. After graduating with her master’s, she started working at Amazon in Seattle, where she was hired specifically for her skills in the German language. “I am currently a Program Manager in Amazon Video and truly feel that I am valued for my language skills,” Golden said. In addition to German, she is in training to become her team's French language expert.
In her spare time, Golden has been able to continue her work in Sign Language. She presented her cross-linguistic work at the Theoretical Issues in Sign Language Research conference held in Melbourne, Australia in 2015. In June 2017, she was awarded a grant from Fulbright's Specialist Program. In fall 2018 Golden will be traveling to the University of Paris for four weeks to add something new to her cross-linguistic research - French Sign Language! “There's no doubt in my mind that none of this would have been possible without WWU's amazing German department,” Golden said. “I am forever grateful for all of the help the department provided me!”✳


Photo courtesy of Giselle Alacantar Soto.Upon graduating, Giselle Alcantar Soto, '15, B.A., French and Spanish, was accepted as a teaching assistant for the Teaching Assistant Program in France. She taught English as a second language for one school year in Arcachon, France. While there, she was able to put her language skills to use traveling all over Europe. After this experience, she returned to obtain her Master in Teaching to become a Spanish, French and English-language learner teacher at the secondary level. As a student, she has been teaching Spanish courses designed for Heritage Spanish speakers, Spanish 2 and Spanish 3. As a graduate assistant for the Justice Speaks Series, she’s brought scholar activists to campus to speak on topics that promote social justice. She will be graduating in March with her Master in Teaching and three endorsements and hopes to begin teaching her own classes as soon as an opportunity arises. ✳




Larson and Williams pose in front of Munich’s Neues Rathaus (New town hall). Photo courtesy of Aaron Larson.

Aaron Larson, '10, B.A., German, and Alexandra (Lexi) Williams, '11, B.A., anthropology and Spanish, live in Portland, Oregon with their dog. They just bought a house and are settling down. 

After graduating, Larson started his career in the translation/localization industry as a project manager for translation projects, which included translations for clients such as Nike, Intel, Nvidia, and others in the software and (computer) hardware industry. He did this for about five years and learned that he had a knack for project management in general.  Last year, he decided to take on a project management position at Oregon Health & Science University, OHSU, where he works on the management of cancer research projects related to bioinformatics and genomics.  “I am very happy with this position as it pulls from my strengths in project management and I enjoy being on a university campus in the advancement of research,” Larson said.  While he now only speaks, reads, and listens to German in his free time, one of his mentors, an OHSU faculty member from Switzerland, helps him keep up with his German proficiency.

Williams attended graduate school at the University of Montana to pursue a career in archaeology. During this time, she participated in archaeological digs in Chile, where she put her Spanish to use, and in British Columbia. Based on her fieldwork, Williams contributed two chapters for a book, The Last House at Bridge River: The Archaeology of an Aboriginal Household in British Columbia during the Fur Trade Period, which was recently published. Currently she works for Archaeological Investigations Northwest, Inc., a cultural resource management firm located in Portland, Oregon. The firm conducts surveys across the Northwest to comply with federal, state and county laws that protect archaeological and historic sites. To help engage the public in archaeology, she volunteers at outreach events, does classroom presentations and mentors students. Williams continues to practice Spanish by reading news articles and speaking with her neighbors in Spanish. 

When they are not working, Larson and Williams enjoy hiking with their pup and traveling. This fall, Larson and Williams traveled to Munich (and rural Bavaria), Innsbruck, and Venice. ✳


photo courtesy of Mitchel Lange.Although he never saw himself working in English education, Mitchel Lange, '15, B.A., Japanese, says he couldn’t deny the abundancy of available work opportunities teaching English in Japan. English education provided not only an opportunity to live and work in Tokyo, a place he had been hoping to move to after graduation, but also an internationally diverse workplace, a huge variety of friendly clients, and lasting friendships with like-minded instructors from international backgrounds. Currently, Lange works as a Coordinator of International Relations through the JET Program. Aiding internationalization efforts in his local area, this position places people in town halls around the country and finds them interpreting, translating, improving sister city relationships, and so on. ✳




photo courtesy of Ruthie.After graduating, Ruthie Jablonsky, '15, B.A., interdisciplinary concentration and Spanish, began working with the American Friends Service Committee in New Jersey, as a part of their Detention and Deportation Project team. She worked both as an aid to attorneys representing detained clients in the New Jersey, New York area, as well as a lobbyist in the New Jersey legislature for protections for detained immigrants. Her work in the Elizabeth Detention Center in New Jersey with asylum seekers inspired Jablonsky to move back west and begin working in the field of immigration law. Jablonsky is now a paralegal at an immigration firm in Oakland where she works largely with communities from Central America who are seeking asylum. Jablonsky plans on attending law school in order to continue working with marginalized communities of color who have been historically and institutionally oppressed. ✳













Woods snaps a selfi in front of the Hohensalzburg Castle in Salzburg, Austria. Photo courtesy of Spencer Woods.Spencer Woods, '17, B.A., French, spent 7 months participating in the Teaching Assistant Program in France upon graduating from Western. From October 2016 to May 2017, he lived and worked in a small town in Burgundy, teaching English as an assistant at the local high school. He made sure to take advantage of every opportunity to practice French, as well as to visit different regions in France. At the end of the school year, with a continued eagerness to live life abroad, he found a job at an English immersion summer camp in the south a France. He spent the summer working, as well as visiting some of the nearby countries, such as Spain, Italy, Germany, Austria, and Ireland. As the year in France was coming to a close, he decided to take on a new challenge for the next year, Russia. In September of 2017, he started his new job as an English teacher at a private language school in Nizhny Novgorod, the fifth biggest city in Russia.  Though being away from family, friends and easy access to peanut-butter can be difficult, he is still thrilled to be expanding his proficiency in foreign languages, and experiencing new places first-hand. ✳



Japanese elementary students and preschoolers celebrated Halloween for the first time with help from Martinez, who volunteers at an English Conversation School in Japan. Photo courtesy of BJ Martinez.After graduating from Western, BJ Martinez, '17, B.A., Japanese, joined the JET Program and is now an Assistant Language Teacher for Izushi Junior High School in Japan. He assists the English teachers in their lessons and also teaches about American culture. Outside of work, he has participated in a few of the local festivals such as the annual Fighting Danjiri Festival and the Atago Fire Festival, experiencing Japanese traditions. He is planning to stay for another year in hopes of contributing more to the community and discovering more of Japan. ✳




Price enjoys cuy (guinea pig) while in Peru as an assistant director to a study abroad program for Rutgers. Photo courtesy of Jacob Price.Jacob Price, '13, B.A. Spanish, still hasn’t finished school. After graduation, Price moved to Lawrence, Kansas, where he studied at the University of Kansas. Two years later, Price walked off campus with his master’s in Hispanic Literature. Since then, Price has moved further east to New Jersey, where he currently is working towards his doctorate at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. He is writing his dissertation, which will focus on environmentalist literatures written in response to the Cold War from Central America. Price is an avid reader, writer, and outdoors enthusiast. He’s traveled across the globe, read hundreds of books, published several poems and short stories and has a book of poetry on the way. ✳