Featured Student: Kya Palomaki
Kya Palomaki is a recent graduate of the University of Utah. Among other things, she studied German while at the U.
Left: Kya in Festung Hohensalzburg, Germany. Right: Kya with her mother near Ebensee.
- Why did you choose your current career path?
I love politics and I love traveling, so a career in the State Department seemed like the perfect combination of the two. A spectacular four month internship at the US Embassy in Vienna, Austria, confirmed my decision.
- How did you become interested in the German language and culture?
I studied abroad for a year in Austria my second year at the U because the study abroad office informed me that "I didn't need to speak German", which turned out to be untrue and I struggled for several months with basic communication. After this initiation by fire, I had accumulated enough German skills to get by, but still wanted to learn more and become more articulate. Also, Austria was a fantastic place to live and I fell in love with their friendly culture and beautiful scenery. Internships in Kiel, Germany and Vienna helped to further develop my language abilities and appreciation of the culture.
- What was your most meaningful experience at the U?
Interning with the city government in Kiel. Without realizing it at the beginning, I committed to a summer of work entirely in German. While it wasn't fun the whole time, that summer did more for my language abilities than any other experience and set me up for success in Vienna (and I'm sure helped get me into graduate school!).
- What were your favorite classes in Languages and Literature? What made them so good?
German 3560 with Professor Baumgartner was the high point in my language course experience at the U. We of course worked on grammar, but I also learned vocabulary and thinking strategies that helped me converse intelligently once I went back to Austria. I also got to enjoy some great German film and literature about which I previously had no idea.
- How has your understanding of German language and culture helped you in your career?
Why is it important to study another language and culture?
I am sure speaking German helped me get my State Department internship, which made me absolutely sure of my decision to work for State. Knowing the language and understanding the culture helps me function easily and blend into society when I do go back to Europe, and it makes me a valuable asset to my future employer.
- What are your greatest accomplishments so far?
Passing the Foreign Service Officer Test on my first try, getting accepted to graduate school at George Washington and Johns Hopkins, completing and Honors thesis.
- To what do you attribute your success?
Working hard, applying for every opportunity no matter how astronomical the odds, and having the support and confidence of the U's faculty and my friends and family.