Undergraduate Alumni of the Department of German at UC Davis


Jordan Ridge

Jordan Ridge, B.A. 
German and English

I was a double major in German and English. I did an exchange program year in Germany and fell in love with the language and culture. While on campus, try new things and see what sticks! The major is small but has great resources and fascinating things to learn. I use my German skills socially with friends and my host families, and while traveling.


Brennan Hines

I graduated with a degree in German and a minor in Political Science. Being a German major you are not only learning the language, you are exploring and learning about European history, literature, philosophy, and music. This was a great way to get a well-rounded liberal arts education.

Hannah Tilsch

After graduating last June, I applied to many positions across the US, and a job opening in Munich, Germany. I ended up getting the job in October, and made the move to Munich two weeks later. I am now working as a Junior Research Analyst for Content5 AG, a Knowledge Service Provider. About 80% of my work is in German, and the other 20% in American English (nice to be able to switch back and forth every once in a while). I am planning to work in this role for another year or two, and then will apply to masters programs here in Germany - most likely in the realm of Political Science Research. 

While I was still at UC Davis, I had attended the German Job Fair in SF and met with a DAAD representative. She had recommended applying for a DAAD scholarship for a summer course in Germany. In the summer of 2019, I attended the summer course Fit für Management und Job at the Ludwig Maximilians Universität in Munich. I had a lot of fun meeting other students from all sorts of backgrounds, and it definitely made seeking out a job offer here (not to mention the transition moving here so suddenly during a pandemic) much easier. I am planning to consult her again regarding scholarships for Masters programs when the time comes. 


Sonja Bumann

I have a very personal relationship with the German language and culture which is why I knew I wanted to double major in it in college. I spent a gap year in a small town about 20 minutes away from Hamburg, Germany in between high school and starting school at UC Davis and lived with a family that immigrated from Poland. Seven years later we are still extremely close and I go back and visit often. My host parents don't speak any English so my biggest motivation was to keep with German so I could always communicate with them. I also LOVE learning languages so the German major was a great fit! Even though my motivation is more personal and not so much because of my career, I firmly believe a German major made me more well-rounded and complemented my science degree (chemical physics). I got a lot of practice analyzing literature, which was always a challenge for me growing up, I learned a lot about cultures in German-speaking countries, and I was able to improve my communication skills significantly. I am currently a 1st-year chemistry graduate student at UC Berkeley and I can say that the analytical and communication skills I learned with my German major translate well to communicating my science. My department is also very international so understanding cultural differences is extremely helpful! Being able to speak German is also very beneficial because there are excellent research institutions in Germany and I can see myself getting my postdoc there after I finish my degree. I am very thankful that I was able to learn from such awesome faculty at Davis and it has definitely left a long-lasting impact on my life.

Tobias Foley

What I did with my German major was move to Germany! I graduated in 2019 with a Bachelors in German and Philosophy, worked for a year to save up, and then came over here in October 2020 to start my Masters in Philosophie und Deutsche Literatur. Last semester I had to take a C1 German language course (most universities require a B2 or C1 Sprachzertifikat - a diploma does NOT count as that! But without the major, I would have A2 knowledge at best) and next month I'll start Real School.

My career goal is to become a philosophy professor, so after my Masters, I'll get a doctorate. I decided to do this in Germany instead of the US because of my semester in Berlin in 2018/19. Academic culture here is so much better than in the US - way more self-directed research and exchange between professors and students, and almost no memorization. Plus, tuition is less than 300€ a semester and the cost of living is a lot lower than in California.

Even if the philosophy doesn't pan out (European academic standards are pretty high), I plan to stay here. From both first-hand experience and liebe Professorin Finney's German culture classes, I know I prefer strict Germany to the materialistic, self-centered US. 


Alison Ruth
Double Major: German and Linguistics

I'm pleased to report that I'm just wrapping up a successful first quarter in a postbaccalaureate/master’s program in speech and hearing sciences at the University of Washington. I jumped right into classes at the UW two days after graduating from Davis (yikes!) but I absolutely love the path that I’ve chosen.

I graduated from UC Davis earlier this spring with majors in German and linguistics and minors in art history and education. I knew that I wanted to utilize my bilingualism in my career somehow, but I wasn't sure how to go about doing that! During my sophomore year at Davis, I began working towards a career in speech pathology and have found that the field suits me in every way. My German speaking abilities definitely gave me a huge leg up in the graduate school admission process— it’s so important to understand the perspective of a language learner in the field of speech therapy, and my German classes at UCD provided me with that unique lens. It was a long road, but I’m so happy to be studying at my top program!


Natascha Starr
Double Major: German and International Relations

I chose the German major in order to balance and compliment my International Relations major, in which I focused my studies on Western Europe. I felt that learning a major Western European language and delving into the history and culture that accompanies language learning would only serve to give me a more nuanced understanding of why the relationships of Western Europe have historically been tumultuous and yet were later able to be intertwined into one of the greatest political achievements of our time – the European Union. I felt that these two majors in combination would give me the skills necessary to critically analyze the world around me and the breadth of subjects covered would serve as excellent preparation for a wide variety of careers.  As someone who has now lived in London for nearly two years, I can definitely say that I do get nostalgic for the vibe of Davis! I loved being able to hop on my bike and cruise around, and enjoyed that Davis felt like a close-knit and traditional college campus. One of the highlights of my career at Davis was definitely my experience with the German major. The small class sizes meant that I was able to form a relationship with the lecturers and professors who taught us, something that was a little more difficult to do in my much larger classes for International Relations. This meant more opportunities to ask questions, have challenging language concepts explained on a one-to-one, personalized basis, and form friendships with classmates, as you end up taking several classes with the same group of people. I felt that this experience was fairly unique at Davis and gave a personal touch to my four years at the university. I highly recommend the German major as all professors and TAs really care about the success of their students and above all, make the classes extremely engaging and fun.  I currently live in London and work as a Teaching Administrator at University College London (UCL), which is one of the top ranked institutions in the world. This is a somewhat similar role to that of a student advisor in the US, except that I deal with undergraduate, masters and PhD students, and play a role in a broader range of areas across the student university experience. While I may not use my German on a daily basis, it has come in quite useful for travel within Europe and I use it to keep in touch with German family and friends.


Samuel Gamsky
Double Major: Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior and German

I have German speakers in my family, which was my primary reason for learning the language. In my German classes, I enjoyed learning about German and European history and reading literary works in German. The teachers are amazing--I greatly appreciated their feedback and loved seeing them at events like the Kaffeepausen. Overall I found it very easy to navigate the major, and all the staff was very helpful when planning out my classes. I double majored with German and NPB. I am premed and am also interested in the sciences. I wanted another major that would fit those interests as well and balance my literary academic experiences with empirical ones. Now, I am working as a Junior Specialist in the lab of one of my former professors helping their studies of the mammalian retina. I am also working as a scribe in the Emergency Department at John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek, where I record patients' visits to the ED so the doctor can spend more time with them. I am also applying to medical schools for Fall 2015. I hope to get back into reading German novels/stories/etc. so that I do not get rusty.

Stephanie Palmer
Double Major: International Relations and German

I have been hired as a Program Representative for University Programs at the UC Davis Extension. I was hired back in April 2014 and have been working here since then. I studied both International Relations and German, so this position perfectly aligns with my majors. I work exclusively with international students that attend UC Davis for 1-3 quarters. Some of the students are from Germany, which gives me the opportunity to practice my German a little bit and also provides a common ground for the students and me.

Liz Licea
Double Major: International Relations and German

I am currently working for the Del Mar Fair but I am in the process of becoming a TSA officer in Salt Lake City, Utah.  I really enjoyed the German Undergraduate Program. I feel like I really learned the language and the culture through the program. It was definitely a big help in preparation for my study abroad in Berlin. The professors were great and the subject material was vast and wonderful.


Erin Babich
German Major

I am currently awaiting graduate school responses, and am pursuing a paralegal A.A.S. and certification in the meantime. I may end up at law school if I really enjoy legal work!

The best perks of the UC Davis German department are the helpful, personable professors and instructors, as well as the many wonderful opportunities to study and research abroad in German-speaking countries.

Chris Patton
Double Major: Computer Science and German

I started grad school at Davis this year and plan to work towards a Ph.D in Germany one day.  When I got to college, I had only a vague notion of what I wanted to study; I didn't actually decide to study Computer Science until my 3rd quarter. From the outset, however, I intended to learn a foreign language and study abroad for some period of time. Why I chose to learn German in particular is a long story. I had amazing teachers for Elementary German, so it was easy to learn and get excited about learning.


Stephanie Galasso
Double Major: English and German

Since graduating in 2012, I have begun a PhD program in German Studies at Brown University. I am currently in my second year and narrowing down my research ideas. I would not be here, pursuing an academic career, if I hadn't had the wonderful mentorship of professors in the German and English Departments at UCD!

Arisa Hayashi
Double Major: Viticulture and Enology and German

I decided to pursue a German double major along with Viticulture and Enology as a way to satisfy my curiosity, and to further improve my job prospects overseas in the field of winemaking. Taking German literature courses was a great way to fine tune my analytical skills, and provided a healthy balance to the quantitively rigorous science classes I was concurrently taking. Looking back, doing a German double major was a fantastic way of getting to know people from other majors such as Comparative Literature and Philosophy, and offered a more diverse Davis experience making my undergraduate years truly special.  A great piece of advice that I received that I would like to pass on to future students is to take the time, and apply for the departmental and national scholarships. If you have always wanted to study abroad, but were discouraged by its costs, I urge you to apply to many of the scholarships offered by the German government (DAAD), National German Honor Society, etc.  Since graduation, I have interned at wineries in Germany and Austria, and have landed a permanent job in Australia working as a viticulturist. My German major and professional experiences in Germany and Austria have clearly led me to where I am today, and am very grateful for what the department and its high caliber instructors have provided.