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10/1/2020 » 10/4/2020
German Studies Association Conference

Member Accolades

Profiles: Mindy Han
Name Mindy Han
College Rice University, University of California, Los Angeles
Degree B.A. Biochemistry and Asian Studies, M.P.H. Health Policy & Management, M.B.A.
Current job title Hedge Fund Equity Research Analyst
Employer Francis Capital Management
Location Venice, CA

Why did you first start learning German?
Growing up in a small town in the desert Southwest, my mother would tell us stories about her travels on the Rhine river and visiting castles on its verdant banks. I was fascinated by the friendly host families she spoke about and imagined that I too would one day travel there. As a teenager, I was passionate about science, and I learned that many medical and scientific terms had Germanic roots. Finally, in high school, it became clear which language option I was going to choose when myriad upperclassmen strongly recommended a popular German class.

What did you get out of your German studies?
Not to be flippant, but a husband! My amazing high school German teacher inspired all of us to weave learning German into our identity. Long after our study abroad trip to a village outside of Stuttgart ended, after high school graduation and throughout college, I made an effort to continue practicing the language with every German speaking friend. Later, while I was studying abroad in Asia, I met a German boy from Stuttgart, and we eventually got married. Practicing German really does pay off!
Learning German from an enthusiastic and ingenious high school teacher was such an incredible gift. He taught us the language yes, but he also showed us a new culture, its delicious foods and a different way to see the world. There may have been vocabulary flashcards, grammar rules, definite and indefinite article charts, but I don't think any of us remember or even felt any of those things were dry. All we remember are the laughs shared with our German exchange families, delicious cakes and tortes ordered from our teacher dressed as our German cafe waiter, and pride felt when we read a German magazine, aced the AP German exam or heard our children sing their nightly German nursery rhymes in the quiet evening hours. I am so grateful for the gift of learning German.

What influence did German have on your career choices?
Learning German did help with some scientific terms in life beyond high school, but as I transitioned from pure science to health policy (at the CDC), finance (biotech investment banking) and now investing (hedge funds), I don't need to use German everyday. Along the way though, there have been German investors, management teams and investment opportunities, so the language foundation from high school is occasionally put to good use.

How do you use German today at home or in your work?
In my personal life, we regularly visit family in Germany, and my three children attend summer camps in Stuttgart. They will sing German soccer fan songs while decked out in black, red, gold as loudly as anyone during the World Cup. 

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