Jan Spreitzenbarth ’11

Simpson students who study abroad are many things: scholars, researchers, visitors, explorers.

You can add another title: Recruiters.

She may not have realized it at the time, but Maggie Priebe ’03, served that role when she studied in Schorndorf, Germany, during the 2001 spring semester.

While there, she stayed with the Spreitzenbarth family, whose young son, Jan, listened intently as Maggie and her friends talked about this college in the middle of Iowa.

“They didn’t say anything particular about the college that drew me to Simpson,” Jan said. “But they said it was a great school and when I graduated high school, I’d be welcome to come over for a semester.

“So when I finally graduated from high school, I took my chances and took them up on the opportunity. What I did not expect at the time, however, was that I would eventually end up staying and getting a degree from Simpson.”

Spreitzenbarth arrived in Iowa in 2009 and majored in global management. He had grown up in a city of 6,000 people between Schorndorf and Stuttgart, so Indianola’s size presented no adjustment.

“It was rather the lack of public transportation that took some time to get used to,” he said. “Besides this, I had everything in Indianola that I could have wished for: great professors and staff that took time for each student, lots of interesting things to get involved with and people to hang out with.”

He credits Walter Lain, assistant dean of multicultural and international affairs, with helping international students ease into the transition of life at Simpson.

“Walter Lain is not just a great photographer, he did a fantastic job for me,” he said. “In fact, it wasn’t just him. Other people were involved in making the transition easier for international students. I was fortunate enough to have friends and professors who cared about me.”

In 2011, during his senior year, Spreitzenbarth served as an intern to U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin of Iowa. He said he made many great friends, and remembers playing soccer in the Washington Mall.

“The job in the Senate isn’t quite like any other job,” he said. “As an intern, I wasn’t entirely responsible for a certain area, but I had the chance to help and support the staff and get insights into a variety of areas. I was particularly interested in energy and natural resources.”

Spreitzenbarth now works as a logistics trainee and planner not far from Schorndorf. He expects to begin work soon on a master’s degree.

Did he enjoy his Simpson Experience?

He puts it this way: “That’s difficult to explain. I only know that sometimes I dream about coming back to Simpson to teach German or something.” He also would enjoy returning to Washington, D.C., as a diplomat or Congressional fellow.

Through the years, he has maintained contact with Maggie Priebe, whose mother, Shelly, is the administrative assistant for Curriculum, May Term and Faculty Development. Maggie now works at Gremier Financial in Des Moines.

“I sometimes send a ‘care packet’ with some German sweets to her family,” Spreitzenbarth said.

See? Yet another benefit of studying abroad.

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