Skip to main content
leah mortenson
More Than I Imagined Seniors reflect on accomplishments and look ahead

Leah Mortenson

Graduation year: 2011

Major: French

Activities: Tutoring through the French department, translation and immigration work with Burundian refugees through World Relief in Rock Island

Post-grad plans: Teach English either in Shenzhen, China, a suburb of Hong Kong, or somewhere in East Asia through the Peace Corps; eventually grad school

Are you where you thought you’d be four years ago?

Absolutely not! I had no idea where I wanted to be, let alone where I’d end up. I started out with a contract major, Environmental Communication, and eventually came to the conclusion that my real passion is language; thus, the French major.

A peak experiences? 

Climbing Mount Fuji on East Asia term...No, but really: East Asia term and all of the memories I’ve taken from that was by far the best part of my college experience. I met so many great people, both on the term abroad with me and in the places we visited, and I had my eyes opened to different ways of doing and living I knew nothing about before the trip.

What did you learn about yourself in these past four years that surprised you?

I learned that I can be a lot stronger than I may have thought, when I need to be. I have learned, and am continuing to learn, that I need not be so hard on myself: Nobody is perfect, and we’re all trying to figure things out in our own way.

Who helped you get to where you are now? 

All of my teachers here have been extremely helpful, and my family and friends. Talking with them, scrutinizing over possibilities and options and being able to identify the things I truly care about...Through their opinions and advice, I have learned different perspectives that have really helped me academically and personally get to where I am today.

Advice for this fall’s incoming class (Class of 2015)? 

Take advantage of all the opportunities available at Augie! Get involved, and be open to new experiences. Form a good community of people around you — they will help you get through the tough times, and make the good times that much better.

"Leah is a fine example of a liberal arts student: curious about almost everything, diligent in her studies in many disciplines and empathetic with people in other cultures. On the East Asia term, she excelled in the classes and enthusiastically used her free time to learn about the places and people we were visiting. This opportunity to return to China will allow her to use her talents in working with students and to expand her own understanding and appreciation of Chinese culture."

- Dr. Norm Moline ’64, Edward Hamming Professor of Geography, Co-director, East Asia term (fall 2010)