Karin Wirth

Class Year



Springfield, Ill.





Karin Wirth’s love of German culture started at home, where she was surrounded by a rich German heritage her entire life. When her family hosted German exchange students during her final years of high school, Karin decided that the language was going to be a part of her studies. Carthage was an easy choice, because of the opportunity to apply for a German Modern Language scholarship.

“With German you are not only studying the language, but also a lot of history, sociology, current events, literature, fine arts, politics, controversial issues, and culture,” Karin said. “It is a great fit for me, because I have a broad span of interests, and there is always something new.”

Karin’s diverse interests are apparent in her list of extracurricular activities. She runs for the Lady Reds cross-country and track and field teams, is a member of Carthage Pep Band and Carthage Christian Athletes, is a tutor for the Modern Languages Dpartment, and was co-president of Alpha Lambda Delta, the National Honors Society, in 2010 and 2011.

“Some of my favorite moments at Carthage have been hanging out with my teammates,” she said. “One of the best weeks of the entire year is pre-season — the week before classes start. We run, go to the beach, run some more, and spend a lot of time just being goofy together.”

As a German tutor, Karin has spent a lot of time getting to know the department’sTLEs, or Target Language Experts. Although she has never been taught by them herself, she says that it is a unique program that benefits everyone connected to it.

Karin plans on studying abroad in Munich, Germany, in Spring 2012. During her time there, she will conduct research on the German education system and hopes to turn this research into her Carthage senior thesis project. In 2011, she was named a DAAD Study Abroad Scholarship Winner, which is how her research project will be funded.

“I would not have had this opportunity without the help of my professors,” Karin said of the scholarship. “Dr. Baer was influential throughout the entire application process. From informing me about the scholarship, helping me to create a project proposal, meeting with me over Christmas break, and helping me to organize and submit all of the forms while I was on a J-Term trip in Guatemala; I really could not thank him enough.”

For Karin, the German program’s professors are a large part of her own and the program’s success. She sees their commitment to their students as a real strength.

“The German Department is relatively small, which really allows you to get to know your classmates and professors,” she said. “Since the classes focus in part on speaking skills, talking to each other is a requirement. The professors do a great job of introducing topics, raising questions, and leading us to develop informed opinions and our own ideas. Lastly, their office doors are always open. If you need extra help or have a question, they are glad to help.”

“The professors do a great job of introducing topics, raising questions, and leading us to develop informed opinions and our own ideas.”

Karin Wirth, ’13

Career goal

To teach high school foreign language classes and to coach cross country and track.

How have Carthage faculty had an impact on your life or Carthage career?

“I have had a lot of great professors at Carthage, and it is difficult to pick just one. I have had classes with German professors Baer andSperber, and they are two of my favorites. They each have a different approach to teaching; however, they incorporate technology in the classroom whether it be a movie clip, music from the 1800s, or a current news report. It keeps the class fresh and interesting.”

Favorite class

“My favorite class was my J-Term trip to Guatemala, during which we studied the history and economics of the Central American country. I don’t know of a better way to learn than to be there in the place, experiencing it all for yourself. You could read innumerable articles about the 36-year Guatemalan Civil War, but a new perspective and a firmer understanding is gained after living with former guerillas who fought in the war and hearing their firsthand accounts. We went on a hike through the jungle, and one of the community members pointed out all of the different ways in which they survived in the jungle. While we walked, we could try to imagine what it was like during that time. In addition to the educational aspects of the class, I made a lot of new friends on the month-long trip. I left school knowing only one other student on the trip, and I came back with 20 of my closest friends. I could go on and on writing about the class; it was an amazing experience.”

Toughest class

 “One of my most difficult classes was German 3090 (Cultural & Intellectual Life) with Prof. Sperber. It was a writing intensive class, and we were assigned an essay per class. Prof. Sperber expects a lot out of his students, which meant putting in a lot of time and effort, but I also got a lot out of the class. While it was one of the most challenging, it was also one of my favorite classes, and I looked forward to going to it. I find that the intense study of another culture helps one to understand his or her own culture and to have a more developed worldview.”

Favorite spot on campus

“Anywhere with a good view of the lake.”