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Alumni Portraits

Our alumni talk about their study experiences, life after graduation, and their careers:

Name: Ursula Wicklmayr
Class of: 2011
Today: Junior PR consultant at MW Office
Master’s Thesis: "The Inuit in Canada's Northern Strategies: Whose North, Whose Heritage, Whose Future?"

"After graduating I started working at MW Office in Munich. We specialize in healthcare communication and I like exploring the interface between the German media and the pharmaceutical industry. On first glance, my job does not seem to have much to do with my former studies. In fact, though, the North American Studies Program prepared me well for the job: Knowing how to approach new topics from various perspectives, how to do research and how to write concise texts are skills that I get to use every day. Furthermore, the program enabled me to spend a year at Toronto’s York University where, in addition to enjoying the challenging and creative academic curriculum, I met many inspiring people with whom – years later – I am still in touch. This exchange and the master’s program itself were certainly a professional and personal gain and I would like to thank the North American Studies Program’s faculty and staff for giving me that opportunity."

Lena Altman, American Jewish Committee Berlin
Name: Lena Altman
Class of: 2006
Today: Director, Communication, Aktion Sühnezeichen Friedensdienste, Berlin
Master's Thesis: "American Jewry at a Crossroads: Jewish Identity, Memory and the Holocaust"

"The North American Studies Program proved to be a stimulating environment: the excellent seminars and lectures motivated me to pursue a DAAD scholarship to study American Jewish literature at Mount Holyoke College, one of the Northeast’s 'Seven Sister' women’s liberal arts colleges. After a stint in the Corporate Communications department of Deutsche Telekom and with the DAAD, I spent several internships in the organized American Jewish community. In 2006, I decided to return to NYC to accept a job offer at AJC, the preeminent and most globally-minded of American Jewish organizations. From 2012 to 2015 I worked as a Public Affairs officer for the Foundation of German Business (sdw). As of August 2015, I am Director of the communications department at 'Aktion Sühnezeichen Friedensdienste', a volunteer organization dedicated to confronting German history and fighting current forms of racism and anti-Semitism."


Anna-Maria Pedron, Foundation of German Business (SDW)
Name: Dr. Anna-Maria Pedron

Class of: 2004

Today: Program Officer, Foundation of German Business, Berlin

Master's Thesis: "Amerikaner vor Ort: Besatzer und Besetzte in der Enklave Bremen nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg"

"The North American Studies Program is an excellent synergy of various disciplines like literature, history, economics, political science etc. I got the opportunity to work with highly motivated students and outstanding professors from Germany and North America. Thanks to the well-organized program with its compact lecture sessions, I developed a solid foundation for my academic and professional career in a relatively short time. In Bonn I got inspired to continue my education and was able to acquire assistantships at Bowling Green State University, Jacobs University Bremen and Mannheim University. After earning my PhD in 2009, I started working as a program officer at the Foundation of German Business in Berlin. I am responsible for developing corporate social responsibility strategies and administrating a nation-wide scholarship program."


Vera Feller, Ketchum Pleon GmbH
Name: Vera Feller

Class of: 2006

Today: PR consultant at Ketchum Pleon

Master's Thesis: "Aufbruch und Katastrophe: Deutsche Amerika-Emigration, New Yorks Kleindeutschland und der Untergang der 'General Slocum' 1904"


"I have been working at a public relations agency for five years now. For advising different clients from various industries on their communication, you obviously need a profound understanding of PR tools, but also a specific understanding for your clients' business. As the branches and issues vary, this is not always an easy task. Studying NAP with its transdisciplinary basis taught me how to quickly become acquainted with different topics and themes in order to gain insights and extract all relevant information - a very important asset fo my job! As our company has offices in over 60 countries all over the world, the opportunity to study a year abroad and get international experience is also something I benefit from."


Tom Kurz, Experiment e.V.
Name: Tom Kurz

Class of: 2006

Today: Team Leader Organizational Development at Experiment e.V.

Master's Thesis: "Constructing a sense of place? - Eine Studie zur Identitätsbildung im Pazifischen Nordwesten im 20. Jahrhundert"

"Training young volunteers, developing new programs, lobbying nationwide for intercultural youth exchange and attending conferences on intercultural learning – these are just some of the tasks a person working in “organizational development” at a non-profit youth exchange organization is in charge of. After 4.5 years my working days have yet to become boring or repetitive. Studying at NAP enabled me to multitask, taking on different projects and maintaining my key interest in matters of intercultural affairs. It certainly helped that the program also allowed enough spare time and freedom to continue my voluntary work for Experiment e.V. – the organization I now work for as a fulltime employee."


Sebastian Bruns, Institut für Sicherheitspolitik, Kiel
Name: Sebastian Bruns

Class of: 2007

Today (2010-2011): Legislative Fellow, Rep. Todd Young (IN-09), House of Representatives, Washington, D.C. (German Marshall Fund Congressional Fellow);
non-resident PhD candidate, University of Kiel; Maritime and Naval Security Analyst


Master's Thesis: “Führt der Weg nach Bagdad über New York? – Zur Rolle der Vereinten Nationen in der amerikanischen Irak-Politik”

"Acting as Congressman Young’s staffer for the House Armed Services Committee hearings a couple of weeks ago, I could not help but think back to my days as a student in the North American Studies Program. The program, upon mentioning of which one was usually asked ‘Oh dear, what are you going to do with your degree?’, helped me develop and deepen interpersonal skills, provided continuous language training, exposure to subjects I had not even dreamed about, and also offered incentives to set one’s own priorities. As such, it helped to broaden my understanding of American politics, policies, and polity, the culture and history of the U.S. – something that I check against reality every day in my current position on the Hill. I am keeping an analytical, bird’s eye view of the matter, too, as a PhD candidate researching the role of the U.S. Navy after the end of the Cold War. Bonn’s ‘soft power’ – as a place to live and to study – continues to make me smile whenever I think back to it."


Tabea Kölbel, Business and Industry Advisory Committee to the OECD
Name: Tabea Kölbel

Class of: 2006

Today (to 2011): Political Advisor, Association of German Employers (BDA), Berlin

Master's Thesis: “Der wilde Osten? German Indianthusiasm und die DEFA-Indianerfilme”


“Attending the North American Study Program‘s Blue Hour Talks as a student, I sometimes got quite frustrated: whenever the alumni were asked the one and only question, 'How did you get your current job position?', the most common answer was: coincidence, fortuity, right time, right place. Truth be told, if I was asked the same question today, it would be hard for me not to respond in the same way.
However, there was more to it: studying at the NAP equipped me with methods and analytical tools which have helped me in structuring my work - and it encouraged thinking beyond disciplinary boundaries. The program’s interdisciplinary approach has been very useful in the assessment of political issues. Being able to approach current problems in social policy from different angles is indispensable in my daily work as an advisor in the planning unit of the Association of German Employers (BDA) in Berlin.”


Cordula Kleidt, Federal Ministry of Education and Research
Name: Cordula Kleidt

Class of: 2005

Today: Civil Servant, Federal Ministry of Education and Research

Master's Thesis: “'Fremde Freunde?' Deutschland- und Amerikabilder nach dem 11. September 2001. Eine Perzeptions-analyse ausgewählter Printmedien”

“Right after graduating I started working as a research assistant and later as chief of staff for Members of the 'Deutscher Bundestag'. Being so close to the political decision-making process in the German parliament and working with the citizens in the constituencies was highly fascinating.
Building on the experience gained over these five interesting years I was keen to become more actively involved in policy making. As a civil servant in the Public Relations Department of the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, I am now responsible for keeping the public aware and informed about policy initiatives and programs.
The contents and interdisciplinary approach of the University of Bonn’s North American Studies Program were an excellent preparation for my career. What I appreciated most were small classes, close cooperation with our professors and many opportunities to network. These networks are still alive today!”


Sarah Schaschek, Journalist (ZEIT Online, Der Freitag)
Name: Sarah Schaschek

Class of: 2007

Today (2009-2012): PhD Student, University of Bonn

Master's Thesis: “'A woman’s right to shoes': Feminism Revisited in Sex and the City”


“NAP’s interdisciplinary approach prepared me well for the various roads I’ve been travelling since graduation. First, I briefly worked as a program assistant with Europaeum, an international university network, before heading to Berlin to be a journalist with the Märkische Allgemeine Zeitung. Having touched through NAP on numerous fields of study, from political science to economics, it was easy for me to cover any area of news.
Eager to also pursue my academic passion, I eventually applied for a scholarship and in April of 2009 started working on a dissertation. Because of NAP’s particular focus on Gender Studies, I chose to write on pornography. Most recently, I finished a nine-month research phase at the Universities of California, Berkeley and Santa Barbara, where I could join in any academic discussion thanks to the rhetorical skills gained during my NAP studies. In addition to working as a free-lance journalist and preparing for academic conferences, I have lately started teaching university classes.”


Sandra Fischer, Institute of Political Science and Sociology, University of Bonn
Name: Sandra Fischer

Class of: 2004

Today: Lecturer, Institute of Political Science and Sociology, University of Bonn

Master's Thesis: “Health Care in Federal Systems – Comparing the United States and Canada”

“Studying at the North American Studies Program suited my personality and interests in several ways. First of all, I was able to focus on Canadian Studies. Secondly, the program’s interdisciplinary approach provided me with the opportunity to cover a wide range of different academic fields.
After graduation I decided to continue working in academia and pursue my PhD in Political Science. Besides, I have been working as ERASMUS coordinator at the Institute of Political Science and Sociology since October 2006. Offering students the opportunity to study abroad and being in charge of maintaining old and promoting new ERASMUS partnerships is a very interesting and fulfilling experience. And the North American Studies Program was the perfect choice in preparing me for it!”


Lotta Maroscheck, American Institute for Foreign Study
Name: Lotta Maroscheck

Class of: 2008

Today: Marketing Assistant, American Institute for Foreign Study

Master's Thesis: “Remember to Draw the Color(ed) Line: Black History and Memory in Aaron McGruder’s Cartoon The Boondocks”

“Since the summer of 2008 I have been working as a marketing assistant for the American Institute For Foreign Study (AIFS), a cultural exchange organization offering different study abroad opportunities for high school students, as well as Au Pair and Work and Travel programs in many countries of the world. I am in charge of events such as road shows and trade fairs. I both prepare and hold presentations about all AIFS programs. Having participated in the AIFS Au Pair in America program myself, I enjoy promoting the opportunity to work, study, and live abroad. I appreciate my job and its room for creativity and intercultural communication. The interdisciplinary approach of the North American Studies Program certainly did a very good job in preparing me for my multifaceted job.”


Olaf Brodersen, Academy for International Education
Name: Olaf Brodersen

Class of: 2008

Today: Program Director, Akademie für Internationale Bildung

Master's Thesis: “Material Girl – Die Marke Madonna”


“I started working as an assistant for the Academy for International Education (AIB) in my days as a student at the NAP. The AIB is a non-profit organization that develops and implements innovative and vocational programs for the academic communities. After completing my degree in the North American Studies Program I was offered the position as a program director for study abroad programs of different academic disciplines. The North American Studies Program with its interdisciplinary approach has equipped me with the knowledge and cross-cultural competence necessary for an international business environment and has reinforced my research and professional presentation and writing skills.”

Leon Fuller, com.on oHG
Name: Leon Fuller

Class of: 2006

Today (2008-2011): Head of Sales, _sightwalk / panogate GmbH

Master's Thesis: "HipHop & Rock: Prismen schwarz-weißer Musik"

"I am working as head of sales for the Cologne based company panogate. Our product "_sightwalk," showing major German cities in street view options, makes both Google and Microsoft jealous. Besides I am also an actively touring musician - we, for instance, played in Afghanistan last summer ... Studying North American Studies at Bonn has sharpened my analytical skills and kicked-off a collection of valuable books that taught me more about freedom of the mind. Textbooks and professors mostly bring you to a certain 'edge' of thinking but stop there. Only if your teacher is able to encourage you to make one step further on your own, however, he/she really knows his/her job. I was fortunate to have been instructed by professors who certainly didn't agree with my style and views all the time but who always respected me as a scholar cutting his own path. This is something I am grateful for because it taught me an important lesson in life: look left and right, listen to the right people - but eventually do it your way!"


Eveline Metzen, Atlantik-Brücke e.V.
Name: Eveline Metzen

Class of: 1999

Today (2008-2010): Executive Director, Amerika Haus e.V. NRW

Master's Thesis: "Reuniting the American People: Die Wiederbelebung der Zivilreligion unter Präsident Bill Clinton"

"I have made my passion my profession. For a decade, I have been working in the field of transatlantic relations: first as program manager with the Körber Foundation, then as the director of the foundation’s transatlantic programs, and today as executive director of the Amerika Haus NRW. In my work, I have always applied an interdisciplinary approach including politics, economics, science, civil society, and culture. There couldn’t have been a better preparation than the North American Studies Program in combination with my studies of Political Science. What fascinates me about transatlantic relations is the power that the exchange of ideas and best practices across the Atlantic generates on all levels of society. The transatlantic dialogue inspires people and serves as a catalyst for political, social and cultural innovation. I appreciate that Bonn University offers a program like NAP which creates future generations of people who continue this transatlantic exchange – in their professional or private lives."


Tabea Kaiser, German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD)
Name: Tabea Kaiser

Class of: 2003

Today: Program Manager, German Academic Foreign Exchange Service (DAAD)

Master's Thesis: "Casting Away that Fictitious Self: The Critique of the Ideal of the Southern Lady in Southern Women's Fiction, 1899-1988"

"Being in charge of a scholarship program for internships in international organizations, I closely work with people from all over the world in order to offer German students and graduates the opportunity to gain work experience in a UN organization, an EU Institution, the World Bank or any other international organization. Working in a diverse environment requires both flexibility and calculability. NAP's international and interdisciplinary approach has taught me to acquaint myself with any topic quickly while considering different perspectives. At the same time, the NAP courses' various discussions and assignments have provided me with the ability to define and phrase my positions solidly."


Fabian Wendenburg, Linde AG
Name: Fabian Wendenburg

Class of: 2005

Today: Manager Public Affairs, Linde Group

Master's Thesis: "Free Trade and Domestic Interests in the U.S. - The Role of Domestic Policy During NAFTA Negotiations"


"NAP taught me to think internationally and to approach problems from different angles. More important, it ignited my passion for American politics which led me to Washington during my studies and after graduation when I worked on Capitol Hill and then pursued a master’s degree in international politics and economics. I started my professional career as a consultant with McKinsey and then with the Brunswick group, advising clients from various sectors and industries. Now, I work with the Linde Group in its public affairs section. What fascinates me about my job is the opportunity to apply political and macroeconomic questions to the every-day business of an international company."


Andrea Frank, Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft
Name: Andrea Frank

Class of: 1999

Today: Head of Programs „Research“ and „Dialogue Science and Society“, Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft (Joint Initiative of German Industry for Promoting Science and Humanities)


Master's Thesis: "The Maritimes Experience – Regionale Vielfalt: Eine Studie zur neueren Literatur der Maritimes und Neufundlands"

"For the last 9 years I have worked in the field of higher education policy in a national and international context. I have cooperated with partners from South East Europe, North America, Africa and from within Europe in higher education collaborations and on reform issues as well as on research policies. My studies provided me with the openness and flexibility needed in a highly diverse and continuously changing work context. My appreciation of interdisciplinary approaches help me to reflect issues and challenges from various perspectives."


Andrea Teschke, Friedrich Petzel Gallery, New York
Name: Andrea Teschke

Class of: 2002

Today: Director, Friedrich Petzel Gallery, New York

Master's Thesis: "Zur Formelhaftigkeit und dem Erfolg von Bestsellern des zwanzigsten Jahrhunderts aus den amerikanischen Südstaaten"


"I graduated from the program in 2002. Having initially studied economics in Cologne after the Abitur, I thoroughly enjoyed NAP thanks to its personal counseling and great variety of courses. I never knew what profession I would want to have and NAP offered me the opportunity to look into different fields of study thereby finding what interests me most. I left Bonn for New York the day after I graduated. I found an internship at a contemporary art gallery and decided to stay. I believe that NAP taught me to broaden my horizons and learn to accept new challenges and experiences."


Susanne Breuer, Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels
Name: Susanne Breuer

Class of: 2004

Today: Referentin des Hauptgeschäftsführers beim Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels / Abstractor of the Chief Executive Officer at the Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels

Master's Thesis: "Slick Guys, Badmen, Cop Killers: The Image of the Gangster in African American Culture"

"In May 2008 I started working for the “Börsenverein des Deutschen Buchhandels”, the German Federation for Booksellers and Publishers, as abstractor of the Chief Executive Officer. This job is not only very interesting but also very diversified in its daily challenges. I do the preliminary work for the Chief Executive Officer of the federation, I organize conventions or committee meetings and meet publishers and booksellers from all over Germany. I am also in charge of the Public Relations for the “Forum Zukunft” which deals with the most recent developments on the German book market like digitalization, internet piracy and e-publishing."


Ramin Soufiani, Schumacher Precision Tools
Name: Ramin Soufiani

Class of: 2004

Today: Sales & Marketing Manager, Schumacher Precision Tools

Master's Thesis: "The United States and International Terrorism: asymmetric warfare as a challenge for the Bush administration"

"The most important and enriching aspects of my professional career are, at the same time, core characteristics and principles of the NAP-program: involvement in an international context, working in small units with highly motivated and skilled people, and enough room for individual interests and capabilities in your personal and professional development."


Ursula Soyez, German Marshall Fund of the U.S.
Name: Ursula Soyez

Class of: 1997

Today: Senior Program Officer, Berlin Office, The German Marshall Fund of the United States



Master's Thesis: "Die Republican Revolution 1994/95 und die Tradition des amerikanischen Konservatismus im 20. Jahrhundert."

"I am currently a senior program officer at The German Marshall Fund’s Berlin office. I moved to Berlin in January 2007, after almost seven years in Washington, DC – first as program manager with the DC office of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, then as foreign policy program officer with the German Marshall Fund (GMF). At GMF, I am involved in a variety of our programs, and am still thrilled that I actually work in the field I studied. One of my favorite programs at GMF is the Marshall Memorial Fellowship program, a leadership program that gives young professionals an opportunity to discover the United States (for Europeans) or Europe (for Americans)."


Friedrich Schröder, German Embassy South Africa
Name: Friedrich Schröder

Class of: 2005

Today: First Secretary, Press and Political Affairs, German Embassy Pretoria Head, German Information Centre Africa


Master's Thesis: "Die USA, der Spanisch-Amerikanische Krieg und die Folgen - Ein Weg ohne Wiederkehr für das 'Amerika-nische Imperium'? Betrachtungen zur Historiographie eines zentralen Problems der amerikanischen Geschichte"

"What NAP has given to me is a firm grasp of all things North American as well as an understanding of the importance of interdisciplinarity, unbiased political analysis and networking with people of various walks of life, from academics to artists and diplomats. Although I have slightly changed the regional focus, it was a great preparation for my current job as spokesperson of the German Embassy Pretoria. Believe it or not: South Africa is really not so different from the United States."