When Gretchen Kohl was looking at colleges, she knew she wanted to study abroad, she was not as certain about which major she would choose. Because of this, the Major Discovery Program was important to her. As a 16-year-old freshman coming in with 45 hours of AP credits, she considered herself an introvert.
“I chose UE because of the Major Discovery Program, small classes, and the friendly, personable faculty. I connected right away to the sense of community at UE,” she said.
For Gretchen, one of the most important aspects of her college career is the interpersonal relationships she has developed. “The personal support I received since my first day on campus is my favorite thing about my UE experience. My advisors and faculty encouraged me since my first year to start preparing for life and career. They helped me plan my experiences both in and out of the classroom to prepare for the real world.”
Explore Your Passion
Gretchen waited until her junior year to claim a major. It was during a summer internship in social services at a St. Louis food pantry that she realized her passion for studying economics. “I remember clearly the day I decided to change to economics as my major. Gene Wells in the Center for Career Development helped me connect with Dr. Zimmer, now a retired professor of economics, who reached out to me right away, and we made an academic plan.”
See the World
Gretchen was able to combine her newfound love for economics with her original motive for coming to UE – studying abroad. After attending Harlaxton College, she spent a summer in Chile, where she completed a University research partnership in economics. Gretchen explored business in Latin America and the Chilean financial system using her skills in micro-finance and Spanish.
She has especially enjoyed the classroom of Spanish professor, Diana Rodriguez Quevedo. “Dr. Quevedo encourages human interaction with native Spanish speakers via a website, Talk Abroad, as well as through conversation with the international students currently at UE. This style of immersion learning definitely pushed my language skills to the next level and helped me to succeed outside of the classroom when I studied abroad.”
The Journey is Worth It
As well as her academic successes, Gretchen held leadership roles in Spanish Club and Delta Sigma Pi, a professional fraternity, played in the string ensemble, and was a student ambassador.
“UE has been a rewarding journey – all experiences from study abroad, research, and internships have brought me to this point. I feel well-prepared and confident for my next step – post-graduation.”
After graduation, Gretchen is interning with the Economic and Manpower Analysis Division of the Department of Defense at the Pentagon before heading to graduate school in the fall.