By Nina Feder ’25
Audrey Plimpton, a communications associate at Salzburg Global Seminar and Pennington alumna from the Class of 2016, delivered a speech to students in the Global Studies Program on November 8. Her journey to Austria was heavily influenced by her time at The Pennington School, and particularly by her academic experiences in Italy and Germany she had over the summer during her time here. After graduating, she earned her B.A. in German studies and political science at Davidson College before completing multiple master’s degrees at both the University of Salzburg and LUISS Guido Carli University.
Her mentor during her high school years was German teacher Peter Chase, who introduced Plimpton to the students as “a great representative of The Pennington School.” He pushed her to study abroad for two months in Bavaria. Her success in this unexpected experience gave her the courage to consider what she wanted to pursue in the future. Her next international experience was in Italy with former Latin teacher Wendy Morris. Serendipitously, both of the places she lived in as an adult — Salzburg and Rome — were ones she first visited as a student at Pennington.
After she graduated from Davidson College, she was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to spend a year teaching English in Austria. She fell in love with her life there and spontaneously decided to extend her residency. She also unexpectedly obtained the opportunity to enroll in a dual master's degree program in Rome, where she completed her degree in international relations before returning to the University of Salzburg to acquire her M.A. in European Union studies. Her openness to discomfort and unforeseen opportunities allowed her to eventually decide to live permanently in Salzburg, where she works at a nonprofit that brings global leaders together physically and intellectually to acknowledge and benefit from their differences.
The main lesson she imparted to the audience was to “embrace the unexpected.” The majority of her international experiences were ones she decided to take advantage of without extensive planning. While this was initially intimidating, she took gradual steps towards extending her comfort zone, and ultimately benefited from pushing herself. Pennington’s Global Studies program inspires students to do the same!