Sarah Frey didn’t come into the world traveling and debating. She grew up in Tucson, thinking she wanted to become an engineer or maybe even a lawyer like her dad—that is until her eighth-grade trip to Washington, D.C.
Experiencing a city like D.C. with your classmates and teachers, walking through streets steeped in political history, seeing museums and monuments changes a person, and it changed Frey. She became determined to travel and wasted no time applying for the Congress Bundestag Youth Exchange (CBYX) program, which is a fully funded program from high school students to study abroad in Germany.
Not knowing any German, it was a steep learning curve, but one that came with the reward of a sustained relationship with her host family, whom she visited a few times when she studied abroad again at NAU. This experience, much like the trip to D.C., created a new path for her that she had never envisioned before—one that leaned heavily into the social sciences.
“I had not considered anything with human rights or politics until I participated in CBYX,” she said. “It was such a unique experience to get to talk with members of the German parliament, go into the American embassy and sit in on a German parliament meeting, in addition to seeing a new perspective on life outside of the US.”
Frey is triple majoring in international affairs, criminology and criminal justice (CCJ) and modern languages with a German emphasis. She came into NAU as a political science major and added a German minor shortly after.
“The summer after my freshman year, I looked at the classes I had taken and tried to decide what subjects I enjoyed the most,” Frey said. “I switched from political science to international affairs because it allowed me to take classes in other departments, like European history, while still learning about politics. I was still interested in law, so I wanted to learn more in CCJ. I also still wanted to take German classes to continue to improve the German language proficiency I gained in high school.”
Soon, Frey realized that international affairs and CCJ shared electives with quite a few overlaps and required language as part of their degree requirements. She was able to test into upper-division German classes, so majoring in CCJ and German didn’t increase her credit load significantly.
“I genuinely like learning,” she said. “I have loved the classes I have been able to take at NAU and the discussions I have had with the professors, and I am proud of the projects and papers I have completed (now that they are over, not so much as I was doing them).”
Her love for learning shows; in addition to taking classes all over campus, Frey was also incredibly active in extra curriculars. She was in a leadership position in the German Club and Model United Nations and founded the Mock Trial club. Learning how people-focused organizations are, Frey saw first-hand how changes in leadership due to graduating members can impact the overall effectiveness of a club. She shared how the community formed by these organizations goes beyond making new friends and enjoying each other’s company, but also can determine the success of the club and its members and its ability to be carried on by new generations of members.
“I’ve definitely grown as a leader within an officer corps, learning how to manage the dynamics between different club leaders, and learning how to balance creating a plan for the year so that we are doing things with purpose, but being flexible enough to adapt when things do not go the way I planned (thanks COVID!)”
She participated in the Arizona Board of Regents’ inaugural Regents’ Cup in 2019, learning new forms of public speaking, controversies surrounding free speech, legal precedence for the restriction of speech and so much more. As a member of Model UN and Mock Trial, the competition was a unique way Frey could continue challenging her debate abilities.
Beyond extracurriculars, Frey was also interning with Stefanie Kunze, a lecturer in sociology, and with the Martin-Springer Institute.
“Learning how to do research alongside Dr. Kunze so early on in my college career helped me so much with my classes as they got more advanced in writing and researching and having more specialized knowledge about Native American genocide, human rights laws, the UN genocide convention, etc.,” Frey said. “I also got to present with her at the 2019 Western Political Science Association meeting in San Diego on a travel grant from Undergraduate Research, and it was so cool to be able to see and participate in a professional academic conference.”
She works with the Martin-Springer Institute on the “A Fan, a Photo, and the Spanish Civil War” project, learning about the difference between academic research and a public history project, writing and editing and challenges creating an exhibit. She also was able to present at the American Historical Association’s Undergraduate Poster Symposium with her internship team in New Orleans in January, seeing this academic conference in a different discipline and learn about the different projects scholars are working on and having them ask questions about their own project.
All of this to say that Frey made the most out of her time at NAU. She will be leaving with lifelong relationships with her mentors like Kunze, Gretchen Gee and Andrew Dzeguze. Her sights are set on D.C. to work with a think tank or really anything related to political affairs.
McKenzie McLoughlin | NAU Communications
(928) 523-4789 | McKenzie.McLoughlin@nau.edu