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Profiles: Shelby Denhof
Name Shelby Denhof
College Aquinas College
Degree B.A. English and German
Current job title High School Educator
Employer Rockford Public Schools
Location Rockford, Michigan

Why did you first start learning German?
My high school offered German as a modern language elective. I began taking German as a high school freshman just to fulfill my language requirements, but continued with German all of my years in high school, including taking multiple German independent studies and AP German IV.

What did you get out of your German studies?
Taking German as a young person literally opened the entire world up to me. Until then, I didn't know how much language, history, art, and travel could spark an interest in me. I wasn't passionate about anything academically until I started taking German. I traveled abroad for the first time as a sixteen-year-old through a school-offered trip and that firmly planted a passion for seeing the world inside of me. Now, I lead my students on trips abroad!

What influence did German have on your career choices?
I became an English and German teacher so I could inspire young people to be curious about the world and others. I think curiosity is such an undervalued trait, yet one that can lead to so much joy and fulfillment in life. I want to empower my students to become globally-minded changemakers in our communities.

How you use German today at home or in your work?
Currently in my career, I only teach English, but personally, I use German often on my frequent trips to Europe. Studying German and traveling abroad as a teen has inspired me to lead my high school students abroad as well. My students often comment on how my love of language and travel inspires them to want to see the world, too, and what's cooler than that? I'm hoping to inspire young people not to be afraid of others and new places; rather, to embrace newness and adventure and recognize how diversity enriches all of our lives.


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