Sarah Steege

❍ Year of graduation: 2006
❍ Federal judicial law clerk (lawyer)


Question: How did you to decide to major in Spanish at Williams?

Sarah Steege: I had taken Spanish starting in fifth grade and wanted to continue developing my language skills.

Question: What are some of your favorite memories of classes, readings, professors, or study abroad experiences?

Sarah Steege: I studied abroad in Madrid (the HCAYS program) for one semester and loved it. I realized on the plane ride to Madrid that while I could read and analyze fairly complicated pieces of literature in Spanish, I’d forgotten many basic words. Going from “classroom fluent” to actually fluent in Spanish — while exploring a new city and country — was such a fantastic experience. I found writing my Spanish senior thesis to be very difficult, but it’s one of the things I’m most proud of about my academic work at Williams.

Question: How did majoring in Spanish help prepare you for what you do now?

Sarah Steege: While as a lawyer I’ve worked almost entirely in English, writing my senior thesis in Spanish helped develop both my research and writing skills and my belief in my own ability to figure things out.
I studied abroad in Madrid (the HCAYS program) for one semester and loved it. I realized on the plane ride to Madrid that while I could read and analyze fairly complicated pieces of literature in Spanish, I’d forgotten many basic words. Going from “classroom fluent” to actually fluent in Spanish — while exploring a new city and country — was such a fantastic experience. Also, I found writing my Spanish senior thesis to be very difficult, but it’s one of the things I’m most proud of about my academic work at Williams. I wrote about the way in which Pablo Picasso’s thoughts on and involvement in politics as an artist changed as a result of living through the Spanish Civil War, World War II, and the post-World War II period. I had discovered my interests in politics and in art history during college, so a Spanish thesis was the perfect way to learn more about those topics while further improving my written Spanish. Having lived in Spain, I also really enjoyed researching and writing about Spain when I got back. Finally, I think Williams does a great job at providing meaningful opportunities for students to work closely with faculty, and writing a thesis was certainly that for me.

Question: How did majoring in Spanish help prepare you for what you do now?

Sarah Steege: While as a lawyer I’ve worked almost entirely in English, writing my senior thesis in Spanish helped develop both my research and writing skills and my belief in my own ability to figure things out. Also, I learned through both my smaller Spanish classes and my thesis-writing process that it’s not enough to be able to express yourself well — you have to be able to develop and defend your ideas too. I’m certainly still working on that skill, but it’s pretty crucial to me as a lawyer now.