Featured Students

CHFA Featured Student: Jaime Staengel

Berlin Sign in Regensburg

  • Name: Jaime Staengel
  • Year: Senior
  • Major: Double major in German and Economics
  • Hometown: St. Louis, Missouri
  • Quirky Fact: I am an avid milk drinker and drink it all the time. Others have tea or coffee to get their day started, but I just need a glass of milk.
  • Favorite thing to eat on campus: Quiche Lorraine at the Winslow Sunday Brunch
  • Best movie you’ve seen recently: The Big Short
  • Favorite movie: The Sound of Music
  • Best book you’ve read recently: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
  • Favorite Book: This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • What you like to do on campus: I love to be at my job at the Racer Oral Communication Center on campus where I get to help students of any major develop stellar presentations.


Tell us about yourself:

I’m from St. Louis and I love everything that is purple. I am very passionate about German, reading, and running. When I have time I like to read books in German and write to my German pen-pals. Additionally, I enjoy traveling whenever I can and seeing new places!

Who inspires you in life?

One person who inspires me is my grandpa. He’s always saying how proud he is of me and the things I’m able to do here. Unfortunately he never had the chance to go to college. However, he continued to educate himself, for instance, by reading the newspaper every day, and illustrated to me what it means to be a true life-long-learner. His encouragement has been important for me at college as I have taken his desire to always learn something new with me as inspiration in both of my majors and in everything I do.

Another person who inspires me, but on the world stage, would be Angela Merkel who is the current Chancellor of Germany and has been Chancellor for ten years now. Her ability to lead Germany through any difficult times, and most recently during the refugee crisis, is inspiring. She has been trying to be open toward helping and taking in refugees during the crisis when most other leaders are trying to shut them out. Her leadership, as well as her being a female leader, has been empowering for me to see and inspires me to go forward and take initiative wherever life may lead me, whether that be in the business world or even the political world.


To match Special Report GERMANY/SAUER
Angela Merkel poses with her husband and the Obamas.

What made you come to Murray State?

The summer between my Junior and Senior years in high school I went to the Commonwealth Honors Academy (CHA) here at Murray which is a three week program where we had the opportunity to live on campus, take two college classes, and a personal growth seminar. It was an incredible experience and after that I really wanted to attend Murray State. Though my mom of course made me apply to other universities as well, I knew Murray was my top choice.

For more about Commonwealth Honors Academy, click here!

Who have you enjoyed working with?

A lot of people really, but to name a few I have enjoyed working with Dr. David Eaton in the Economics Department. He and I have been doing some research on tax policy and a few other things lately. I have also enjoyed working with Dr. Roxane Riegler in the Modern Languages Department. She was my faculty advisor for my German paper last semester for the senior seminar and gave me constructive feedback and guidance. I’ve also enjoyed working with Dr. Randy Black who is in charge of the Commonwealth Honors Academy. Though I do not usually work with him, I did go back and work with the CHA last summer. Working with him on that was an incredible experience.

 What made you choose the major you did?

I took German in 6th grade because my older sister had taken Spanish and of course, at the time I thought I had to be different from her! So that’s why I first started taking German and I just kind of stuck with it. By my Senior year of high school when I was applying to Murray State and had to decide on a major, I wasn’t sure what else I wanted to do so I came in as only a German Major knowing I was passionate about it. In my second semester I added the Economics major because I thought it would be a nice complement to the German major. In many of my Economic classes we have focused on the recent economic crisis and that includes in Europe. Getting to see German/Germany come into play in my other classes across disciplines has been awesome.

 Work related to your major?

I work in the Modern Languages office as a student worker where I grade lower level German homework and tests which has helped me grow in the language. As I have to look for and correct grammar mistakes, the process has made me a better German student in turn. It has been a privilege working there.

Last semester I did my capstone senior seminar for German and wrote a paper on the currency union between East and West Germany back in 1990 which was a neat and intensive project. I worked with my German professor to make sure my grammar was correct and on the development of my paper. Additionally I worked with my economics professor to make sure all the economics topics I was covering were accurate and explained in the best way possible. It was amazing synthesizing both of my majors into that one paper and has been rewarding for me personally as well as academically.

I’m also the secretary for Alpha Mu Gamma which is the foreign language honor society. We have promoted ourselves more on campus this year and have been organizing events to promote languages in all parts of the university.

Jaime talks about her favorite experience in the classroom:

Things done recently that are related to your major?

I studied abroad in Germany for a semester which helped my German so much. While I was there I took part in a Tandem Program where I was partnered with a faculty member from Universität Regensburg and her level of English fluency was equivalent to my level of German fluency. We had a rubric to follow for each meeting where she would speak in English half of the time and I would speak in German the other half. To this day we still do this for the fun of it over Skype and even exchange little trinkets and gifts. Recently she sent me some classic German books. While I was there I met an older couple around my grandparents’ age who have become my pen pals since they do not have Skype. It has been great to have people to converse in German with outside the classroom and in a more practical setting.

Regenburg University, where Murray State students often go for semesters abroad.

Future plans?

I’m not 100% sure yet but I do have a list of a few options. I have been leaning towards either getting a Masters right away in economics and/or applying for either a Fulbright fellowship or the Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange for Young Professionals. The Congress-Bundestag Youth Exchange is where 75 Americans are sent to Germany for a year. There would be a month and a half of intensive language classes and then you intern for a company that is related to what you studied in college. Overall I would love the opportunity to go abroad for a year before entering graduate school.

Andy Black , English and Philosophy, with Jaime at the 2015 Kentucky Honors Roundtable in Frankfort.


About Jaime, Andy Black says, “Jaime was in my Honors Literature and Philosophy course the first semester I taught at Murray State. I was immediately struck by her combination of seriousness and intellectual curiosity. I am glad to have worked with her since informally, but often find that I am learning more from her than she is able to get from me. And Jaime pursues her subjects with a joy that transforms the classroom: it’s contagious. I wish I was as passionate about anything as Jaime is about everything.”



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