Kate Marples Simpson
ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT | MARCH 2021
Undergraduate KU major: Germanic Languages and Literatures
Graduation Year: 2011
Current occupation: Attorney
Research mentors while at KU: Leonie Marx
Describe the undergraduate research/creative experience that you had while at KU: Dr. Leonie Marx advised me in developing, writing, and editing my German Honors Thesis: Entwicklung mit Hindernissen: Margarete Steffins gesellschaftskritischer Blick in ihren autobiographischen Geschichten. (Development with Obstacles: Margarete Steffin's socially critical view in her autobiographical stories). For this project I read Margarete Steffin's writings, primarily a collection of short stories, and analyzed them in the context of Steffin's life. Steffin lived from 1908-1941, and is perhaps best known for her relationship and collaboration with Bertolt Brecht. Steffin's individual work was often semi-autobiographical, drawing from her experiences growing up in working class Germany at that time.
Q: What do you think was the most important thing you learned while doing undergraduate research?
A: How to research a subject exhaustively, and to think critically and analytically about that subject.
Q: What advice do you have for undergraduates who might be interested in doing research or creative scholarship?
A: Even if you don't know what you want to do professionally, the skills you develop researching and completing a serious academic project will translate to various applications beyond your college career.
Q: Do you use any of the skills or perspectives gained doing research in your current occupation? How so?
A: Every day. I'm an attorney. My main practice area is litigation, so I research and draft analytical arguments on behalf of clients daily. Critical writing is a daily endeavor. There are additional skills necessary for success in this profession, but I began learning the basic research and analysis skills as an undergraduate at KU.
Q: Many undergraduate researchers are making decisions about what to do after they graduate from KU. Having been in those shoes, what do you know now that you wish you’d known then? Do you have any advice?
A: Yes. The possibilities are endless. I went to law school because I was not sure what I wanted to do. While I did wind up practicing law, the skills I developed at KU Law also would have translated well to the business world, academia, and beyond. Good luck!