Deborah (Molstad) Kellogg ‘73
The Early Years of German were a Struggle
When Deb came to Minnehaha as a freshman, her older sister told her she “had no choice” but to take German. Herr Kauls was intimidating—he wore black pants, a black shirt, a black and silver tie, and had “cold green eyes” with no smile on his face. “I remember sitting there shrinking into my seat thinking ‘why didn’t I take Spanish?’”
She grew to both love the language and appreciate her teacher. Herr Kauls made German both fun and interesting. Deb’s best friend was in the class, who was the best all-around German student Herr Kauls had in many years. “Without her help, I would not have gotten the decent grades in German that I did. I enjoyed German class, but it was always a struggle for me.”
As a senior, Deb was pondering what her college major was going to be, and she got the distinct impression that she should take German. “I remember looking at the ceiling of my bedroom and I said, ‘German--that is so hard.’ I then got this strong impression that this was what I was supposed to do, even though I did not feel at all prepared for it! When I went and told Herr Kauls, he looked at me for a moment and said, ‘Are you sure that is what God said?’ He knew that I was not his best student! I said ‘yes–I’m sure!’”
"Suddenly I fell passionately in love with the language and have been for more than 45 years"
Deb majored in German at Wartburg College, and it was still a struggle for her. One Friday night, she was doing her German homework and felt so overwhelmed. “It may as well have been written in Swahili! I felt like I had been banging my head on this wall of German for close to 5 years. I put my head down on my desk and cried. At that point —it was the closest thing to a religious experience that I have ever had — something in my head went click, and suddenly, everything made sense. I then picked up the book I had been struggling with and I could read it –almost without problem! I was just amazed! Suddenly I fell passionately in love with the language and have been for more than 45 years.” She studied in Germany that year for 12 weeks, then went back for her entire junior year and lived with a German family.
Deb was also a Fulbright scholar to Leipzig, Germany in the summer of 2017. She was the only student from the Midwest. On their first day, they had a mixer and one of the people she met was a fellow Minnehaha alum from ’79!
A Lifetime Career in German
“The German program at Normandale is my baby.”
Deb got her master’s degree in German just a few years after college, taught high school German for 25 years, and then got a call from Normandale College. The German professor had had a stroke two weeks before the end of the semester and they were scrambling to fill his position. She went in Thursday morning for an interview, and Friday she was hired and teaching the class. She finished out the semester, and has been there ever since, becoming tenured in 2004. “The German program at Normandale is my baby.” Deb has been leading the German program at Normandale for 22 years, and teaching German for a total of 45 years.
Deb is also a published writer, poet and translator. She has been active in the German exchange program between Saxony and the Minneapolis district of the ELCA. She is a proud mom and grandmother (Oma), and her daughter Rowen attended Minnehaha.
"Your German sounds beautiful." That was the greatest compliment he could have ever given me.
“This has been the journey of a lifetime. It all started at Minnehaha with Herr Kauls. I cannot imagine another major that would have given me as much satisfaction or the life experiences that I’ve had. I now have native speaker fluency in German.” When she visited with Herr Kauls several years ago, he was pleasantly surprised to find out what she had done and how far she had come. “He spoke to me in German and said, ‘Your German sounds beautiful.’ That was the greatest compliment he could have ever given me.”