Lauren Brooks and Curtis Maughan, who just earned their master’s degrees in German from Cal State Long Beach (CSULB), recently accepted full support from the Ph.D. programs at Penn State and Vanderbilt University, respectively, as well as Los Angeles German Consulate Teaching Awards to instruct the language this summer at the University of New Mexico.
“We’re pleased and proud of Lauren and Curtis,” said Jeffrey High, a faculty member in CSULB’s Romance/German/Russian Languages and Literatures Department and co-director of the University of New Mexico’s German Summer School. “This recognition is good for them, for our department and for the German program.”
Brooks, who is enrolled in Penn State’s doctoral program, feels honored by her double distinction. “It’s a great feeling, especially because I have worked so hard to come this far,” said the Long Beach resident. “I am honored to have received this prestigious opportunity.”
Maughan also is pleased by his recognition and is looking forward to traveling to Tennessee for Vanderbilt’s doctoral program. “I’m grateful that I chose CSULB,” said the Irvine resident. “The CSULB faculty, staff and student body have made my doctoral candidacy as strong as it is. This process has been academically and professionally rewarding and extremely enjoyable. I’ve been surrounded by such bright and dedicated people for the past three years, so it will be tough to say goodbye.
“But I will stay in touch,” he added. “In fact, I’ll be returning to CSULB in the fall for the 100 Years of Death and Judgment Conference (Sept. 21-22), which the German Studies graduate and undergraduate students have planned in honor of the 100th anniversary of Thomas Mann’s `Death in Venice’ and Franz Kafka’s `The Judgment.’”
High credited the university’s relations with the Los Angeles German Consulate for the students’ teaching awards. “This funding supports graduate student participation in the German summer school at the University of New Mexico,” he explained. “There they will teach German all day for a month. When they aren’t teaching or directly participating in campus events, they will tutor in the main study hall. Past participants in the program have gone on to teaching careers in higher education. Others have enrolled in doctoral programs at campuses like UC Berkeley, UC Irvine and the University of Minnesota. Something interesting always comes of this.”
Brooks feels one reason for her acceptance at Penn State was the variety of instruction she gained by attending CSULB. “I am coming from a program that does everything to professionalize their graduate students and prepare them for the next step, which is in my case pursuing a Ph.D.,” she said. “I’ve been given the opportunity to teach six classes in German during my master’s candidacy and prior to that I lived in Germany for six years after receiving my bachelor of arts in German studies from CSULB in 2003.”
Brooks found CSULB an easy choice to make. Not only did she grow up in Long Beach, her mother is a CSULB graduate, too. “I’m glad I chose this university,” she said. “This is a strong West Coast program in German and that says a lot, especially since many West Coast Universities have recently had to cut their German programs.”
Her trip to New Mexico will be a new experience. “I am honored to have been given this opportunity. I am very much looking forward to the experience,” she said. “I think my work in New Mexico will benefit me both as an educator and as a scholar.”
Brooks’ goals are to acquire her doctorate before launching a career in higher education. “Ideally, I’d like to become a language coordinator at a university,” she said. “I’d like to offer graduate and undergraduate students the same quality education I’ve received.”
Maughan is looking forward to his return to New Mexico where he first began his German study. “I’m so grateful for this experience,” he said. “Lauren and I will work every day lecturing, mentoring and interacting with other students, all in German. You have to speak German at breakfast, in between classes and on the basketball court. You have to speak German, period. And that’s why the CSULB German Summer School at Taos is so effective—it is truly an immersive experience.”
Maughan encourages other CSULB students to make a commitment to scholarship. “On one level, dedication to scholarship prepares you for the future,” he said. “What we do in school and what we do in the professional world are directly related; students in our program develop the skills they need to create a meaningful experience in the professional and academic spheres. On another level, perhaps a deeper level, I believe that commitment to scholarship is the key to long-term happiness that only comes with an enlightened understanding of the world around you.”
Brooks also encourages scholastic commitment. “First, students need to understand the importance of learning a foreign language,” she said. “Learning another language offers rewarding experiences. Go to class. Talk to your professors. Get involved. And never take 'no’ for an answer.”
Students thinking about where to earn their undergraduate and master's degrees ask High why they ought to apply at CSULB when other flagship universities have more funding. His answer is that CSULB’s training is among the best in the nation.
“Not only is CSULB a great school, but it is among the more conspicuously successful addresses from which to apply at top programs,” he said. “We may not have the resources of a top 20 university, but, once students are ready, they are among those that receive the most competitive offers from institutions like Penn State and Vanderbilt.”