Maddie Malat ’18, Golden Valley, Minn.
Major/Minor: Graphic Design/French

Why did you choose Concordia?

My connection to Concordia goes back to when my mom was a Cobber. She also encouraged me to attend the Concordia Language Villages at a young age. My experiences at the Language Villages, plus Concordia’s commitment to becoming responsibly engaged in the world, is what led me to become a Cobber.

What was your experience like at the French Language Village?

I started going to Lac du Bois, the French Language when I was 9 years old. I was a villager every summer for eight years and began working as a counselor the summer after my freshman year at Concordia. While working as a counselor, I also worked as the Village marketing assistant. I was responsible for taking photos for the daily blog and creating promotional photo and video content for the Village. I fell in love with Lac du Bois as a child, and working there had always been a dream of mine. I’m so thankful for all of my summers spent at the Villages.

How has that experience impacted your life?

Since working at Lac du Bois, my language skills have continued to improve, as well as my teaching skills. While language instruction was never something I studied in school, my experience at Concordia Language Villages taught me how to effectively use the immersion model. These skills and experiences have opened many doors for me, including my trip to Tanzania and the opportunity to work at an English immersion summer camp in Switzerland. The Language Villages community is a beautiful thing and has taught me how to be a responsible global citizen and instilled a permanent passion for language in me.

What activities and groups have you been involved in on campus?

During my time at Concordia, I’ve had the opportunity to be involved with various student organizations on campus. Most recently, I was the editor in chief of our student newspaper, The Concordian, for the past two years. I’ve also been involved as the student photographer for Concordia Theatre and the Office of Communications and Marketing, as well as a student graphic designer for the theatre and art departments. Outside of those experiences, I’ve been involved with French Club and hold an on-campus job at the Carl B. Ylvisaker Library.

How did you get involved with The Concordian and what has your role been?

I started working for The Concordian my freshman year as a photo editor. I had worked as a photographer for my high school yearbook and newspaper, and I knew it was something I would like to get involved in during college. As the editor in chief my sophomore and junior years, I focused on page layout design and photography. I worked alongside some amazing, knowledgeable, multimedia journalism majors that taught me so much about running a newspaper. I wouldn't have been able to do it without them.

Tell us about your study abroad experiences.

The summer after my sophomore year, I enrolled in a May Seminar program to Rwanda. I spent five weeks in Kigali, Rwanda, with five other students and two professors. We spent our weeks living and teaching at the SOS Children’s Village, an orphanage and primary school. In the morning, we taught classes at the primary school and in the afternoon we taught English to house mothers. We took weekend trips to visit different towns, Akagera National Park and the Kigali Genocide Memorial. There’s so much to explore and learn in the beautiful country of Rwanda, and I’m so appreciative of my time spent there.

This past summer, I traveled to Tanzania with a pilot program through Concordia Global Learning, Concordia Language Villages the Singita Grumeti Fund. I was one of five students to travel to the Singita Grumeti Reserve, a private reserve bordering the Serengeti National Park, to teach English through immersion programming. The program aimed to help bridge the gap between Swahili medium primary school to English medium secondary school. In order for Tanzanian students to be successful on exams and continue in school, they need to be proficient in English. We created the curriculum, brought supplies and began teaching right away. It was amazing getting to work with the kids and see their confidence and language skills grow during our time there, and their passion and desire to learn was inspiring. We met so many hardworking people and learned so much about the Tanzanian education system, anti-poaching, and conservation.

I’m so grateful for both of my study abroad experiences in Africa. They were incredibly unique and transformative. I hope to someday travel to Tanzania and Rwanda again.

What advice do you have for anyone considering going abroad?

Do it! Take advantage of all the opportunities Concordia has to study abroad. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to explore and travel the world. My experiences pushed me out of my comfort but allowed me to grow and be more actively engaged in the world. These were definitely some of my favorite memories at Concordia!

What are your plans following graduation?

After spending some time in the Fargo-Moorhead area, I’ve seen how incredible a community can be. After graduation, I plan on looking for opportunities in the area. I’d love to find a job that combines both graphic design and photography.

How have your experiences prepared you for life after college?

My jobs on campus, as well as my travels abroad, have given me a ton of applicable skills to bring into the workplace. Running The Concordian helped me to develop my skills as a leader, and working on campus as a photographer and graphic designer allowed me to develop a diverse skill set. The classroom experience has provided me with a ton of knowledge that I’m excited to put to work after college. I think it’s these experiences that helped me with establishing deadlines, learning how to communicate professionally, and develop real technical skills. The combination of classroom and real-world experience offered at Concordia is the reason I’m confident in my abilities to work well in a professional setting.

Published October 2017