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Natalie Spahn
More Than I Imagined Seniors reflect on accomplishments and look ahead

Natalie Spahn

Graduation year: 2019

Hometown: DeKalb, Ill.

Majors: Multimedia journalism and mass communication, French

Activities: Fresh Films, Observer student newspaper

Internship: WVIK, Quad Cities NPR

Why Augustana?

I liked the idea of small class sizes and being able to know my professors. I visited Augustana three times and liked how beautiful the campus and Quad Cities were. Every time I came to the campus, whoever my tour guide was would walk around campus and always say hi to friends and professors; everyone would hold doors open for others; and it seemed like everyone knew what they were doing. No other campus gave me that vibe.

Are you where you thought you’d be when you first came to campus?

No. I had no idea what I wanted to major in, what clubs I would join or who I would be friends with. “High school me” would be very surprised and impressed with where I am.

Who helped you get to where you are now?

Professors Schwartz, Yaschur and Lederman have helped me the most in my four years. Schwartz’s 250 reporting class made me want to be a journalist, Yaschur helped me with shaping my college experience, and Lederman taught me a lot about the French language. Lederman literally got me to France.

Dr. Emily Cranford also helped me continue learning French and kept me in the program. My junior year, I had a few difficult and less enjoyable French classes in a row. I was about to drop my major to a minor, but then I took my first class with Dr. Cranford, and she reminded me why I loved French so much. Not only was the topic interesting, but I learned a lot more than I expected to. But the best part was being a student of Cranford's because she was so supportive and fun. She really made me want to go to class. And afterwards, I continued to take more classes and get my major.

I'd also like to thank Dr. Kiki Kosnick. She helped me through the most difficult months and classes at Augustana. There were times while working on my French Senior Inquiry that I thought I would never be able to complete it; it was too impossible of a task. But, she was always there ready to give me the best advice and support. She's one of the most intelligent, supportive and compassionate people I've ever met.  

Peak experience?

My sophomore year I joined the Observer, and within four months they asked me to cover the Women’s March on Washington as their news reporter. I was very surprised and honored they picked me. And then going to the march was an incredible experience I probably wouldn’t have ever done without the Observer.

What surprised you?

I am able to accomplish a lot more than I thought I could in high school.

How did you use Augie Choice?

I spent six weeks living in Dijon, France, with about 20 other Augie students. I went to the south of France for a weekend, met students from all over the world, explored Dijon with my Augie classmates, and was there when they won the World Cup and was able to celebrate there. And all that happened within just the first two weeks of the trip.

What will you miss the most?

I’ll miss the people the most. I have too many favorite professors, and I’m sad I’ll never get to take their classes again. But mostly, I’ll miss all my friends. The bad thing about Augustana is that all my friends have been accepting full-time jobs and programs across the country, and we won’t be together every day.

Advice for the Class of 2023?

The less afraid you are to ask questions…shoot your professor an email, reach out to the Reading/Writing Center, go to CORE, and just use everything that’s available here; it’ll make your life easier.

“Natalie stands out to me both for her willingness to ask questions and for her keen sense of discernment. I have come to know her as a careful and critical reader who sees things others might miss—both in literature and in the world around us. While traveling for study away in France, I noticed how intentionally Natalie seemed to funnel experiences through her camera’s lens. In courses this year, I have enjoyed watching her apply these same skills to complex narratives—drawing out nuances and finding ways to make them meaningful. I suspect these gifts will serve her well in journalism, and I look forward to witnessing what she will do next.”

– Dr. Kiki Kosnick, assistant professor, French