Brush with Royalty Gives Magellan Scholar the Trip of a Lifetime

Created: April 19, 2017  |  Last Updated: January 5, 2022  |  Category:   |  Tagged:

WASHINGTON, PA (April 19, 2017) - Michaela Mulokey, a Washington & Jefferson College (W&J) political science and German double major with a history minor, is fascinated by German history. Michaela spent her Magellan Project this past summer exploring that passion as she traveled through Germany, studying castles that were completed before 1890.

“I chose this topic because German history prior to the 20th century is seldom taught or studied. The castles are an interesting reflection of the aristocracy of the time, and by studying the royal class in Germany during this era, it is easier to understand cultural differences between the Länder (states) of Germany today (e.g. Bavaria, Nord-Rhein Westfalen, etc.),” she said.

Michaela traveled all over Germany for her project, seeing as many of the country’s more than 200 castles as possible. She explored a castle a day, and was also able to spend two or three days in each city she visited.

Michaela learned a lot about the history of royal families and the societies they ruled from these castles.

“I concluded that the royal families within the German states had a profound impact on uniting their regions through culture. Many of the castles were a show of the wealth and power of the region, and their interiors were decorated to reflect things about the region that made each place unique,” she said.

On top of her research, Michaela used this trip as an opportunity to practice her language skills. As a German major, she has been speaking the language for almost four years at an advanced level, and was ready to use those skills in her travels. She was surprised, however, to learn that this aspect of her trip was one of the tougher challenges she had to face.

“It’s a completely different experience speaking to people in another language in the real world versus in a classroom, and some regions have different dialects and pronounce words differently than others,” she recalled. Fortunately, she said, most of the people she spoke to were extremely helpful to her.

Michaela, a member of W&J’s ROTC program, plans to commission into the Air Force after graduation. She may use the Air Force’s resources to further her language studies and strengthen her skills in German. She is also considering returning to school to further her education. This project has taught her a lot about reaching those goals.

Michaela would like to thank all of her professors in the German department, as well as Dr. Dodge and Dr. Leonard for helping her complete this project. She feels that their guidance helped her make this project one she will never forget.

“The Magellan Program helped me learn how a process to appeal for research funding might work, as well as helped me improve my language skills which could help me later on in life,” she said.


About the Magellan Project

Established in 2008, Washington & Jefferson College’s unique Magellan Project extends liberal arts learning outside the classroom by providing scholarship funding for students to spend the summer pursuing independent projects and internships in the United States and abroad. Learn more about the Magellan Project on the W&J website.


About Washington & Jefferson College

Washington & Jefferson College, located in Washington, Pa., is a selective liberal arts college founded in 1781. Committed to providing each of its students with the highest-quality undergraduate education available, W&J offers a traditional arts and sciences curriculum emphasizing interdisciplinary study and independent study work. For more information about W&J, visit, or call 888-W-AND-JAY.