Heather Burles

ArtSci' 85 in Languages and Linguistics, M.Sc.' 88 in Computing

Heather completed her undergraduate degree in Languages and Linguistics with German being her primary language. She received numerous awards for the academic excellence during her time at Queen's, including Gordon & Myrtle Adams Scholarship, R.W. Leonard Penultimate Year Scholarship, Helen McLeod Reeve Scholarship and Prince Of Wales Prize. Each year, she was also placed on Dean's Honour List. After graduating, Heather worked in Germany as a foreign language teaching assistant for English in Spangenberg in north Hessen and sang in the local choir. Then she returned to Queen's for a Masters in Computing Science, although she always kept close ties to the German Department. After moving to British Columbia to work in the software industry, she sang in a German choir in Vancouver.

Heather Burles

She remembers her humble beginnings at Queen's:

"I started German 100 with no German whatsoever. Queen’s gave me a solid foundation of grammar and vocabulary, modern & mediaeval (Mittelhochdeutsch!). The DAAD scholarships and work programs helped my spoken German immensely. Also, the German Choir, German Camp at Lake Opinicon and the German Theatre Group created community within the German Department and included anyone and everyone with an interest in German. Staff, students, native German speakers, advanced, intermediate and beginner speakers of German, young and old, came together with music and laughter and of course, hours and hours of practice. The choir, camp and theatre group brought students of all levels together, giving me hope as a beginner that I might one day speak as well as the advanced students. In four years with some summers spent in Germany, I became fluent.

German Theatre Group

Dr. Helmut Krausse was my first German professor. I remember how impressed he was with an essay I wrote about the Nibelungenlied. Not because of the content! I was the first student to submit a word-processed laser-printed essay, not typewritten. The professional quality umlauts and ß's impressed Dr. Krausse. Dr. Bill Reeve welcomed me into the German choir when I was an absolute beginner. He also convinced me to attend the German camp at Lake Opinicon, which became a regular post-exam, beginning of summer event for me. Dr. Uli Scheck founded the German Theatre Group which was a huge success. We had so much fun with Christopher Kolumbus oder die Entdeckung Amerikas and Leonce und Lena.

Heather recommends students use the opportunities to travel, study and work abroad: "Learning a language is also learning the culture. The German Department helped me so much with work and study opportunities in Germany. Before graduating I recommend students participate fully in the community within the department. Some of the friendships made there will span decades and continents with ease."

Heather also speaks about the contribution of Queen's degree on what she is doing right now:

"In 2011, the German I learned at Queen’s allowed me to publish Millionenschwere Kirchenmäuse: eine kanadische Erfolgsgeschichte der etwas anderen Art, the German translation of a biography my mother Mary-Jo Burles wrote. All those comma rules I learned at Queen’s came in handy. I recently started taking singing lessons and was surprised how much having a degree in linguistics helps."

Smouldering Incense, Hammered Brass on .