Paterno Fellow selected as history student marshal

Brynn Boehler
May 03, 2018

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — When Stephanie Springer saw the liberal arts student marshal posters hanging in the hallways of Sparks Building each year, she had always hoped that she would be selected as one as a senior. This year, that dream came true when Springer was selected to represent all history majors as the department’s student marshal.

With commencement set for 6:30 p.m. May 5, Springer looks forward to representing her class, but most of her work has been done already. It is what made the Paterno Fellow and Schreyer Honors College Scholar stand out as a candidate for student marshal. Student marshals are not only dedicated to their major but also to making the best experience out of their time in college.

Springer definitely stood out in regard to her experience abroad; she went to Europe for two semesters and completed two separate study abroad programs. The first was located at the University of Oxford in England, and the second was in Aix-en-Provence, France.

Both opportunities shaped her academic career in different ways. Studying at Oxford allowed Springer to take part in the tutorial system of education, in which students choose a topic of focus and work to write weekly papers with one-on-one help from a faculty member. Springer described this as an “enriching and challenging experience” that also allowed her to delve more deeply into one subject.

Though her first experiences abroad helped enrich her academic life, Springer became more culturally immersed after her time in Aix-en-Provence due to the language difference. Springer described her time in France as essential for improving her language skills because of her stay with a host family that only spoke French. Little did she know that the program would eventually shape her career path as well.

Looking back on that time, Springer focused most on the day-to-day experiences with her host family and in their community. Springer also became involved in volunteering to teach two middle school-aged girls English, which allowed her to discuss language and culture with them and help to understand French better as she taught them her native language.

As a senior, Springer has made plans to return to the site of this enriching experience and continue what helped her most when studying abroad: teaching English. She will now do so through a program provided by the French government and hopes to eventually move into a career in government, law or nonprofits. The only stipulation she has for her career is that she knows she wants to work internationally.

Though her enrichment experiences were central to Springer’s college experience, she also claimed the value of a liberal arts degree as an important piece of her time as a student. Springer noted that liberal arts students build research, writing, and source analysis skills and have the opportunity to have an educational path that is useful yet varied.

“I have taken interesting and thought-provoking classes that have broadened my perspective on a variety of social and political issues,” Springer said in reference to her favorite part of liberal arts academics.

Through the structure of liberal arts majors and in taking advantage of experiences that helped define her, Springer remained engaged and will now be able to pursue her dreams abroad and at commencement as the history student marshal.

This is the seventh in a series of stories on the 22 student marshals representing the College of the Liberal Arts at the spring 2018 commencement ceremony.

  • Stephanie Springer history student marshal

    Stephanie Springer's four trips abroad while at Penn State helped her set and reach her goal of working internationally.

    IMAGE: Chuck Fong

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Last Updated May 03, 2018