Washington and Lee University senior Lorraine Simonis, from Philadelphia, Pa., has been awarded a U.S. Teaching Assistantship (USTA) fellowship to Austria for the 2014-2015 academic year.
Simonis' interest in languages, specifically in German, developed from her interest in European history and her family history. A memory of speaking French with her father, knowing that her family came from the Lorraine region of France (which is now the French border with Germany), German seemed the obvious choice of a language to study both in high school and college.
"I am so excited about this opportunity not only to share my language and culture with my students, but also to improve my German and discover Austria," Simonis said. "I'm sure there will be some challenges, but overall I'm really looking forward to the experience.
"My decision to pursue to the U.S. Teaching Assistantship in Austria developed out of my long-standing interest in language, cultural exchange and working in classrooms," continued Simonis. She has been temporarily placed in two schools in Austria: one in Semmering and one in Neuenkirchen which are both are in the region of Lower Austria.
"While I have travelled extensively in Germany, living and working in Austria will be particularly exciting. It will allow me to explore a part of the German-speaking world with which I am less familiar. As a Medieval & Renaissance Studies major, as well as a German language major, I look forward to the possibility of living and working in a country which has been such an important [part] of both European and World history," added Simonis.
During her freshman year of college, Simonis volunteered at Waddell Elementary School in Lexington, Va., teaching a French language and culture class to 8, 9 and 10 year-olds. She found that writing the curriculum was the easy part but keeping their interest from straying was, at times, much harder.
"Lorraine Simonis epitomizes the W&L student ideal," said Paul Youngman, associate professor of German. "She is bright, engaged and a complete go-getter. Most endearing, however, is her approach to setbacks. She simply doesn't believe in them. We are so proud to have her representing the university and the German department in Austria next year and in her legal studies at the University of Virginia in the following year."
Simonis is a graduate of Mercersburg Academy, in Mercersburg, Pa. At W&L, she belongs to Phi Beta Kappa and Phi Eta Sigma honor societies, Pi Beta Phi fraternity, the W&L Outing Club and the Reformed University Fellowship. She is a Johnson Scholar and received the Mises University Scholarship where she received funding to attend Ludwig von Mises Institute to study economic and political theory.
Simonis is the manager of the W&L men's varsity lacrosse team and as part of the first-year pre-orientation program, has been an Appalachian Adventure Trip Leader. She is a Sunday School teacher at R.E. Lee Episcopal Church. She has studied abroad in Bonn, Germany, at the Goethe Institut and at the University of Edinburg.
Simonis has been accepted to the University of Virginia Law School and has deferred that until the year after her teaching assistantship.