Few members of the staff and faculty at Wartburg College have a German heritage as rich as Sally Malcolm, the administrative assistant to the vice president for academic affairs at Wartburg.
To her friends and colleagues, she is a delightful conversationalist and an invaluable ally.
“She can be a person’s greatest resource, their greatest ally,” Dr. Brian Pfaltzgraff, who works closely with Malcolm.
Malcolm, who speaks fluent German, learned the language by conversing with her grandfather, a first generation American.
“German was my passion when I was younger,” Malcolm said.
While Malcolm was in high school, she took classes in German and became proficient with the viola.
“I was fortunate enough to have an instructor that would push me to practice my music and really made me consider music as a career,” Malcolm said.
During her senior year of high school, Malcolm studied as an exchange student in Germany.
She then pursued an education in viola performance at Truman State University in Kirksville, Missouri until she injured her hand while playing.
After determining that she couldn’t play well enough to continue, Malcolm switched her major to German and proceeded to test out of nearly all of the German classes offered at Truman State.
A new German curriculum was designed around Malcolm at Truman State, and she was often the only student in each of her German classes.
“My German heritage was always something I was really proud of,” Malcolm said.
After the Berlin Wall fell on Nov. 9, 1989, Malcolm started saving money for a trip to Eastern Germany.
During her journey, she saw how the villages and cities on the other side of the wall were affected by the USSR.
“When I was young, I never knew about Wartburg,” Malcolm said. “I got this job from answering an ad in the paper.”
Only after Malcolm was hired at Wartburg did she realize how perfect of a fit it was for her.
Her experience in music helped in her work with the music department and led her to play the viola at events like Christmas with Wartburg and the performance of “Fiddler on the Roof” by the Wartburg Players.
Her fluency in German has helped her correspond with friends and colleagues in Germany, recruit for internships in Europe and led her to join the Sister Cities Organization board where she can work closely with Eisenach.
“My mom always used to say, ‘God puts you where he wants you,’ and I think he really wanted me to be here.”