Alumni Spotlight – Maria Spethmann

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Meridian school organized a party and turned its dining and recreation hall into a nice party location

Alumni Spotlight – Maria Spethmann

I had the pleasure of recently connecting with Maria Spethmann. She was an international student from Germany at Meridian in the 2011-2012 school year. She has wonderful memories of being involved with the drama department, on both the volleyball and basketball teams and many of the other school programs. She had great things to say about her friends and her education while attending Meridian School:
What have you been doing since leaving Meridian?
After I returned home I still had to go to high school for three more years to get my Abitur (German university-entrance diploma). I felt more than well prepared for my classes because the courses I took in Meridian (in particular the maths and biology AP courses) were much more advanced than the corresponding German ones. Back at my school, Leininger Gymnasium, I was encouraged to extend my studies through several extracurricular activities and scientific programs. In 2015 I graduated with an excellent score.
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 The school principal hands Maria a certificate during the graduation ceremony
Have you been going to University? Which one?
After that, I first did two short internships (at BASF, a chemical company, and Baust Group, a small mechanical engineering company) and then started to study mechanical engineering at the RWTH University in Aachen. However, after one semester I switched my major to physics, even though I haven’t taken any physics in high school. After taking an introductory course in the first semester, I was completely fascinated by the ideas and mechanisms that physics can describe in our world.
What have you been doing more recently?
Right now, I am doing an exchange semester at the University of Pennsylvania. I really enjoy it here and am also taking an economics class from the Wharton School and an interdisciplinary course from the Medical Department. I like the experience to be on a real “campus” because in Germany all the university buildings are spread out and you don’t get that kind of community feeling.  
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Maria, sitting on the Dreiländereck, where all three countries Germany, Netherlands, and Belgium meet.
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Maria skiing with her brother and her cousin in the Alps.
What are your plans for the future?
My plans for the future are not very well developed yet. After receiving my Bachelor’s degree in 2019, I am planning to do my master’s degree in Aachen as well and maybe aim for a PhD afterwards. Physicists can work in many different fields, so I don’t really have an idea of where I will finally end up. But there’s still a lot of time, so I don’t worry about it too much. I do know for sure that I want to travel to many different places in the world, try new experiences and get to know other cultures.
What is your favorite memory of your time at Meridian?
The question of my favorite memory of Meridian is a very tough question. There are so many of them! I remember that we went to Shakespeare festival with a drama group and a dancing group, which I performed with. I am usually not very artistic, but our drama and dancing teacher Mindy was super enthusiastic and motivated me to participate. That was a unique experience! The festival was super fun, we all had a great time together and even won a prize for our dance! Also, I don’t remember if it was the same trip or another one, but we made an excursion to see some of the national parks including the Arches in the south of Utah. I was very impressed by the scenery and we even did a very adventurous hike in the morning to see the sunrise. pic-meridian05
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Trip to Moab and the national parks nearby. They enjoyed the great view and did a morning hike to see the sunrise
What did you enjoy most about being at Meridian?
A more general thing that I loved about Meridian was that all the teachers and staff members were so enthusiastic about their jobs. Tasi, the headmaster organized many small and larger events and programs for us, such as, an artistic show in school, or going to Sundance Ski Resort for Winterim. The teachers were very open-minded and both relaxed and demanding. We were given a lot of responsibility and freedom at the same time (“I trust you that you don’t cheat on the test”). Some of the staff members gave parties for us at their homes. I also liked the fact that it was very international. Many of my friends there were Asian and I learned a lot of cool things about their culture. I think all in all you could say that Meridian often felt like a wonderful big family, and that’s what I loved about it!  
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Last day of school with our math professor. The students were all a little bit sad to say goodbye.
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The drama class performed the song “Last Christmas” before winter break.
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Tasi, the headmaster, organized a college trip through the west coast during spring break, where the students could see the campus sites of some famous universities.
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