Alumni Profile

Rachel Zimmerman '08

Spanish Teacher, Kent School

How did Saint Michael's, and specifically your major, help you get where you are today?

I declared my Spanish major before freshman year started. I always knew that I wanted to study the language and literature, but wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do with it. Thanks to a professor who recommended me as a peer tutor, I got my first taste of teaching others. I tutored throughout all four years at Saint Michael’s and, while I never declared a second major in education, I graduated knowing that I wanted to teach.

Professor Lukens-Olson recommended that I apply for a summer job with the Middlebury-Monterey Language Academy. MMLA is a summer language immersion program for high school aged students. I worked as a Residential Advisor and lived with students while maintaining a total immersion environment. Through working with MMLA, I was inspired to apply for Middlebury’s graduate program in Spanish linguistics.

After graduating from Middlebury, I knew for sure that I wanted to teach and I am currently teaching Spanish at a prep school in Connecticut. Thanks to Saint Michael’s, I not only developed the skills that I needed in Spanish to propel me towards more education, but I also built strong relationships with professors who helped me to realize my full potential and who provided me with valuable connections to people and experiences that have led me to where I am today.

What specifically about Saint Michael’s helped you to find success in the real world?

The things that I always mention about Saint Michael’s are the sense of community and the small class sizes. The education I got was great, but I probably could have found it at another school. What is unique about Saint Michael’s that I found more valuable was the small class sizes that allowed professors to really get to know their students. Building relationships with professors, whether in or out of my major, helped me achieve more than I would have had I gone to a bigger school or to a school that didn’t value its community as much as Saint Michael’s does. Thanks to these relationships with professors, I was able to make connections that led me to jobs and opportunities for more education that I would not have otherwise had.

Of which of your achievements are you most proud?

When it comes to academic achievements made at Saint Michael’s, I am most proud of graduating from the Honors Program and being inducted into Phi Beta Kappa. Thanks to these achievements, I was able to gain entrance to Middlebury College’s graduate program in Spanish linguistics and I count graduating from that program among my proudest accomplishments as well.

Keeping real life achievements in mind, I am most proud of successfully living in another country during both my semester abroad during my sophomore year and during graduate school. Living in another country involves dominating the language, embracing the culture, and being able to be away from loved ones for an extended period of time. It’s no easy feat and that I was able to succeed at it twice is something of which I am extremely proud.

What advice do you have for prospective students considering Saint Michael's?

I would suggest to prospective students that they really think about what they want out of the next four years. If they want to be in an environment where they are going to make great friends, build strong relationships with professors that will stay with them long after they graduate, and get a great education all while surrounded by the beauty that is Vermont, then Saint Michael’s is the right place for them.

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