Natalie Brooke Soto

Name: Natalie Brooke Soto
Graduation Year: 1999
Major: German Education

I always had a good idea of what I wanted to do with my future. As far back as I can remember, I wanted to become a teacher. However, when I had to further narrow my focus to subject matter, I was torn between teaching German, English or Social Studies. Eventually, a high school study abroad trip served to whet my appetite for travel and learning about other languages and cultures, and sealed the deal.

However, that was merely the tip of the iceberg. When I arrived at Miami University in the Fall of 1995, I had no idea just how much my life would change and how much I would learn. And I owe a great deal of that to the German department at Miami. I quickly became involved in the exciting coursework and in the extracurricular activities that not only made practicing German easily accessible but also relaxed and comfortable. I immediately felt at home with the professors and the other majors and minors I got to know through classes. I remember how uniquely special the department was. None of my friends even knew their professors or classmates and I not only knew all of mine, but I hung out with many of them socially on a regular basis.

I took part in the Heidelberg/Berlin summer program between my sophomore and junior years. To this day, I consider those 7 weeks the best consecutive seven weeks of my life. This trip was the ultimate learning experience--about life and myself. I really don’t think a day goes by that I don’t think about that trip and I am more grateful for that experience than any other in an academic career that is full of things to be grateful for.
During my senior year, with graduation approaching at a pace far faster than I wanted, I searched for a way to get back to Germany. Though I was confident that I could successfully teach high school German, I wanted the experience of living abroad for an extended period of time and immersing myself in the language and culture. I received a Fulbright scholarship and was placed in Fulda, Germany where I worked as a teaching assistant of English for a year. Though it was not always easy, it was an absolutely invaluable experience and I learned so much and was able to travel all over Europe.

I returned to the U.S. in 2000 and began teaching German in a suburb of Chicago. I absolutely love my job. I have fabulous students and I feel so lucky to be able to share my love of German and the German culture on a daily basis. I always try to make it a point to encourage my students to travel abroad. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to make it back to Germany myself in quite some time. The two main (and best) reasons are in the picture at the top of this page.

It’s hard to believe that this is my 11th year teaching and that I have been gone from Miami nearly 3 times as long as I was even there. I would say it is hard to believe because time just flies. But I think it is closer to the truth to say it’s because the memories are as vivid today as they were then, and all that I learned there I carry with me and use always. I can never thank the German department enough for the learning experiences that they provided both in and out of the classroom that so impacted my life and greatly shaped the person I am today.