Abby Lehner '18
About Abby and Where She is Today
My name is Abby Lehner. I am a recent graduate of UNH, having earned a Bachelors in Communication & International Affairs with a minor in German. While apart of UNH, I was an active member at WUNH, claiming the title 'DJ Hotwheelz'. I was lucky to work the LLC and LRC at Murkland, being a friendly face to greet both students, faculty and the community. Currently, I am working in Portland Maine as a Communication Intern at CIEE (Council on International Educational Exchange), helping spread the word on our exchange programs across the world!
Abby's UNH Career Path
While at UNH, I was a dual major in Communication and International Affairs. With a love of travel and language learning, I wanted to pursue a career where I would be able to have an impact on the global world. Growing up with German heritage, I wanted to push myself to learn a new language. Therefore, the three fields of study fit perfectly into both what I'm passionate about and what I can do to make a difference.
One of the most influential language professors I've ever had was Johannes Frank. Though retired now, he was one of the most intriguing, kind and intelligent people that I've met. Having grown up and lived in Germany during one of the most important times in history, Hannes was able to tell incredible stories of his time in Germany. From the fall of the Berlin Wall to Peace Protests in the city, you could tell he was passionate about his country and wanted to share the gift of language with others. Learning from him was always meaningful, since he cared so much about all of his students and truly loved teaching. He helped me improve my German and led into the direction of where I wanted to take my career.
Tales from abroad
One of my favorite days was one of my most difficult days actually. I had planned a day trip to a smaller town outside of Berlin to see my "German Family", who were lifelong family friend's of ours. Growing up around them was fun, yet difficult because only one out of their family of 5 spoke English. Yet, I was excited to reunite with them in their home country. This spontaneous visit came little to no preparation, because somehow I thought it would be fine just to 'wing it'. Upon coming to the train station, I was totally lost and confused. This proceeded to me having to ask anyone I saw where the train was, how to board it, ect... For some reason, nobody around us was able to speak English, so I had to challenge myself to speak entirely in German. In the moment, I did not care if my speech was sloppy or if my grammar was perfect. I just needed information and through my rusty language skills, I was successful in getting where I needed to be! At the end of the day, I was reunited with my German family. And what was even more special to me was the fact that after years of learning German, I was finally able to communicate with them. My uncle Uli had tears coming out of my eyes, just because of the fact that we could hold a conversation. It was a special moment to me that wouldn't have been possible if I hadn't taken German classes at UNH.
Abby's thoughts on language
Taking a language at UNH may have been the best thing I've ever done. For one, knowing a secondary language is a huge career booster. Even with a little background knowledge, you become a valuable asset for any international company. But this was not the main reason I wanted to take a language. Learning German, I was now able to communicate and bond with an entirely new population of people. Not only could I speak with friends and family, but I could also meet new people and communicate with them in another language. Language creates a powerful connection that is truly indescribable; probably because words have so many meanings, and each language has its own way of bringing people together.
Abby's High Impact Learning Experiences
The biggest thing to impact me at UNH was discovering what I love to do. While this may sound vague and hard to grasp, it is exactly the purpose of what UNH as an academic institution. Yes, classes are an important part of education. But what I believe to be the most important feature is the countless of opportunities UNH provides outside of the classroom. There are hundreds of things, which may include clubs and orgs, events and seminars, work and volunteer experiences, and even just being present on campus! I think that involvement is the biggest impact UNH can have on a person. You are able to choose what you want to be involved with and how that shapes you as a person. It leads you to discover what you love doing and how you can be apart of it.
Abby's message for incoming students
Learning a language is not only valuable as a student, but it is a valuable skill as a person! Learning a new language and sticking with it can open so many doors in your future. It can benefit your career, relationships and your engagement in culture. Majoring in a language allows yourself to focus on not only communication, but how you view and interact with the world. You become a traveler, not only physically, but in your communication with others and how you involve yourself in communities. You will always find yourself utilizing another language. Learn a new language and discover a new culture!
Abby's goals in the near and distant future
In the near future, I would like to continue being a role model and inspiration for students who want to travel, for educational purposes, but also just for fun! I believe that travel is necessary for anyone and everyone. Understanding global cultures helps us grow as worldly, educated people. We need more of those in the world. In the distant future, I see myself making a difference for people. In what way, I can't really be sure, but I know in my heart that I am here to change people's lives! I believe I can do so on a global scale, putting my language skills to work and perhaps going back to Germany to live out my purpose. In any case, I just strive to be a resource and an voice of encouragement, yelling to every "Study a language and go abroad!! It'll change your life!!"