Fulbright Alumna Erin Osterhaus ’09 Leverages Language Skills in Global Business
Osterhaus credits Dr. Erika Berroth, head of Southwestern’s German program in the Department of Modern Languages, with encouraging her to apply for the Fulbright Program.
“A few months after graduation,” said Osterhaus, “I found myself in Laufen, Germany, a small town on the German border with Austria. I taught English and an elective Spanish course at Rottmayr Gymnasium to high-school age students, as well as teaching seventh graders at the local elementary and middle school. Those 10 months were some of the most enjoyable and most difficult I’ve experienced. I significantly improved my German, made friends I’m still in touch with today, and traveled around Europe. I also grew up—that was the difficult part! I had to pay bills, set up bank accounts, learn to cook—basically become an adult—all on my own while trying to puzzle through conversations conducted in a dialect of German I’d never heard before. In other words, I grew a lot as a person.
Her Fulbright year definitely influenced Osterhaus’ future.
Academically, it gave her the boost she needed to get into the M.A. in German and European Studies program in the Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. That degree, in turn, made her a more competitive candidate for jobs when she returned to Texas in 2012.
“I am currently the Marketing Content Manager at Wi-Fi Alliance, the trade organization that certifies Wi-Fi devices around the globe for interoperability,” Osterhaus explained. “As many Wi-Fi Alliance members companies are European, my German and French language skills have come in handy. I also freelance as a German > English translator in my spare time.
“Without the encouragement and confidence I gained by working so closely with many of the professors in the SU Modern Languages Department,” Osterhaus noted, “it would never have occurred to me to apply for a Fulbright in the first place. Thankfully I did, and the experience has had a huge impact on the life I lead today.”
To learn more about the Fulbright Program, visit https://us.fulbrightonline.org/ or contact Alexandra Anderson, fellowship advisor in the Center for Career & Professional Development.