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Erica Shafran: English and German

Latrobe, PA
Major: English and German

The more Erica Shafran looked at IUP, and the Honors College, the more certain she became that she was making the right choice.

I'm an English/German combined major and I hope to become a professor, doing research in, and teaching, linguistics. Originally, I was an English Education major. I had always heard that IUP had the best Education department and a particularly strong English department. The combination of those two and the proximity of IUP to my hometown, made IUP the logical choice – but the real draw was the Honors College, which I learned about during a summer tour of IUP. When I got my letter of acceptance from IUP, which I expected, I was pleased. When I got my acceptance letter from the Honors College, I did a dance of joy!

Once on campus, Eric Shafran soon realized that she had another important choice to make, one she recommends to any high school student entering a college or university.

The most important decision anyone can make in college is getting involved. Through various officer positions I've held on campus, I've literally blossomed. Being in the forefront of any organization enhances one's speaking abilities, sense of leadership and management skills – all skills that I know will help me both in grad school and in the real world.

As she took classes that first year, Erica Shafran discovered the importance of finding a school where professors, too, are involved, where teachers truly care about their students.

One unique thing about IUP is the interaction we have with professors. Communication doesn't end outside of the classroom. I've had countless conversations in the hallways and various classrooms with all of my professors and several of them have served as mentors to me throughout the years. I've had a rich and rewarding relationship with my professors; their dedication to both students and their own professions is nothing short of remarkable.

The Honors College also offered Erica and her classmates something beyond the ordinary.

There are dozens of unique things about the Honors College, but the one that comes to mind immediately is the intellectual freedom offered by the faculty, students and the environment. Almost nowhere else can a student enjoy the stimulating academic atmosphere that pushes one to dream about and challenge the world.

Thanks to IUP and the Honors College offering both study abroad and special studies at other major university centers, Erica Shafran has taken up that challenge, semester by semester.

I've spent the last few months preparing my application for the Fulbright scholarship to study linguistics in Vienna, Austria, and I recently learned that I am a finalist. I should know soon if I'm going. I also had a 1998-99 year of study abroad at Gerhard-Mercator-Universität in Duisburg, Germany. In preparation, I spent last summer studying linguistics at Georgetown University under the guidance of two prestigious linguists. It was an amazing learning experience, perfect for my entry into the field of linguistics.

Sometimes, it does us all well to find quiet retreats from the world. For Erica, working with ceramics, shaping clay into objects both beautiful and useful, answers that need.

This semester (as well as next), I'm taking a studio ceramics class. This class has been the greatest outlet, one of the most rewarding experiences I've had during all my college years. I find it's important to have some type of outlet where I can just get away from the rest of the world now and then.

But when she goes out into that world, Erica Shafran does so with ever-deepening awareness and appreciation.

Because of my study abroad, and being immersed in a completely different culture, I came to realize the importance of understanding other cultures, other people. I never could have guessed the far-reaching effects that living in a foreign culture would have in my present life. You can't learn to think differently until you open your mind to new ideas and different ways of living.

Erica’s Accomplishments

Academic Distinction/Awards

  • 2001 Fulbright Scholarship to Austria
  • Regional Rotary Finalist
  • Robert C. Byrd Finalist
  • Expository Essay Contest, Honorable Mention
  • Ninth Annual Student Community Service Recognition Banquet
  • Expository Essay Contest, 2nd Place
  • Phi Kappa Phi (National Honors Society)
  • Sigma Tau Delta (English Honors Society), President and Vice President
  • Kappa Delta Pi (Education Honors Society), National Executive Board nominee, President and Vice President of Initiations

Community Service

  • American Red Cross
  • Eisenhower Elementary Math Program
  • IUP Bell Atlantic Technology Grant Program (Project WRITE)
  • Self Help Alliance


  • PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals)
  • Celebration of Teaching Grant, wrote proposal
  • College of Education, electronic portfolio development
  • Linguistics study at Georgetown University

Study Abroad

  • Gerhard-Mercator Universitat Duisburg, Germany


  • English 2000 Undergraduate Conference
  • 42 Biennial Education Convocation, Baltimore, MD
  • Emerging Scholars in English Studies, IUP
  • Second Annual Teaching Associates Colloquium, IUP
  • An Afternoon of German Poetry and Songs, Graystone Church, Indiana, PA
  • National Education of the Education of the Ceramic Arts (NCECA) Conference in Charlotte, NC

Undergraduate Thesis

  • "The Fight for Survival of Pennsylvania German: English Claims Another Language." Director: Dr. Michael M. Williamson, IUP English Department