KENNESAW, Ga. | May 10, 2023
Graduating Kennesaw State senior Savannah Tuschl comes by her curiosity about cultures honestly.
“My mom was a flight attendant for 37 years, so growing up she’d always bring me souvenirs from all the countries she visited. I just thought it was incredible,” Tuschl, a modern language and culture major, said. “I knew from a young age that whatever I did, I’d want to travel.”
Tuschl, named the Department of World Languages and Cultures' Outstanding Student, will graduate summa cum laude this month and four days later heads to work in Ecuador for 27 months with the Peace Corps in the area of youth and family development. The Smyrna, Ga. native said she’d spent the final two years of college preparing for her travels, and a study abroad trip helped her make up her mind on the country where she’d want to work.
Tuschl’s childhood curiosity about other cultures never slowed down. She threw herself into her Spanish classes in high school and discovered a love not only of the language, but the music, dance and history of Spanish-speaking countries in Central and South America.
“I decided I really want to understand this. I think it opens your mind so much more to understand a different culture,” she said, noting she’d become fluent in Spanish over the years. “When I started college, I was undecided on what I wanted to do, but I knew I wanted to keep learning this language I loved and see the world. And I think that’s what led me to the Peace Corps.”
During her summer 2022 study abroad, Tuschl said she was able to immerse herself in the Latin American culture she’d loved for so long in a way that she couldn’t in a traditional classroom. In Ecuador, she visited the Andes mountains, the Amazon river basin, the coast and discovered each region had its own unique culture, from bustling cities to indigenous communities.
“It changed my life,” she said. “And I fell in love with the country.”
While balancing her studies through college, Tuschl tutored second graders in Spanish and mentored fellow students in whatever way she could, according to her professors. She participated in Engaged Owl Leaders, Latin dance clubs and community cleanup and service projects. Tuschl has also been recognized by the Georgia Aquarium for her many hours of volunteer service, logging over 100 hours in the first two months and helping to educate elementary school students on water conservation and marine life through the aquarium’s outreach office.
“Whatever she does, it’s going to help others. You can see it with her classmates. She always wanted to work with others, especially those who were having a hard time,” said Robert Simon, coordinator of KSU’s Portuguese program and professor of Spanish and Portuguese. “She just excelled. I’m very proud of what she’s done and the path she’s taken.”
– By Thomas Hartwell
Photos by Matt Yung
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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its more than 43,000 students. Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia with 11 academic colleges. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 7 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.