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UC Student Named German Academic Exchange Service's Young Ambassador

UC student Monica Zeckel spent a year in Germany and is now the first ever DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) Young Ambassador from the University of Cincinnati.

Date: 10/28/2010 11:00:00 PM
By: Ryan Varney
Phone: (513) 556-0142
Photos By: Monica Zeckel
Monica Zeckel studies industrial design here at the University of Cincinnati, but it was her interest in German studies that resulted in a one-of-a-kind opportunity. Katharina Gerstenberger, a professor in the Department of German Studies in the McMicken College of Arts and Sciences, nominated Zeckel for an ambassadorship offered by Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst (DAAD) after having her in class.

Monica Zeckel (center) and friends dressed in German drindls.
Monica Zeckel (center) and friends dressed in German drindls.

Says Gerstenberger, “Monica was a student in my fourth-year German class and told me she had just spent a year in Munich. When UC International alerted me to the DAAD ambassadorship, I thought of Monica because of her recent experience. Thankfully, she was chosen and got to spend time in New York with DAAD and is now promoting study abroad here at UC.”

DAAD—or German Academic Exchange Service to English speakers—is the German national agency for supporting international academic exchange. This year DAAD selected Zeckel as the first ever Young Ambassador from UC. Her love of German culture and her experiences studying abroad make her their ideal campus representative.

“It’s really great being an ambassador. I love sharing stories about my time abroad, and this gives me a forum to do that, and to learn about the aspirations of others. Talking to students at the study abroad fair was great. It’s exciting to think that other students are just beginning this great experience. Sometimes I get a little jealous I’m not going back myself,” Zeckel adds.

Still, it’s not always the easiest job.

Zeckel confides, “Sometimes it’s a little daunting trying to seek out interested students. The DAAD offers such a wide variety of programs for almost any major, that everybody I meet might be a candidate.” And she never really gets a “day off,” adding, “I just try to make myself available for those who express interest in Germany or the idea of studying abroad.”

For anyone interested she does have this advice, “It’s important to plan ahead if you want to study abroad. Most of the DAAD scholarships ask the students to apply six months to a full year before they plan on studying abroad. Although it is hard to plan that far in advance, these programs and scholarships are so amazing, it’s really worth the effort. If students are at all interested, please email me at and check out the website, which is full of great information and a searchable database of scholarships and programs.”
The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) logo.
The German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) logo.

Zeckel has also received much support along the way. “UC has been so supportive of me as a DAAD ambassador. Particularly, the German department and Professor [Manfred] Wolfram of the Electronic Media Division who runs a program abroad in Munich, have been really great at helping me get the word out about the DAAD.”

Finally, she says, “There is such a wide variety of opportunities that I can’t be an expert on any one thing. I just do my best to share my positive experiences and point students to resources that can help them.”

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