Navigating the World: Equipped by Millsaps

Joey Lee

June 5, 2024

"The robust academic environment, small classes and close-knit faculty relationships provided just the right atmosphere. That, combined with the variety of classes was instrumental in shaping my approach to learning and problem-solving."

From Lenox Hill in New York City to the cultural landscapes of Europe, alumna Claudia Arnold Ziegeler (’82, ’83) embodies the transformative power of a Millsaps College education.

Born in New York City to Austrian parents, Claudia moved to Mississippi in 1964 when her father, an ENT specialist, was called to UMMC to develop the faculty of otolaryngology. She went to schools in Clinton until age ten before attending a boarding school in Vienna.

“This was a huge change for me,” Claudia explained. “But I had already spent summers with my grandmother so I adapted quickly.”

Claudia (front row, third from left) as a member of ETA SIGMA during her years at Millsaps.

Returning to Mississippi for summers during her high school years, Claudia initially attended Mississippi College.

“I just didn’t feel quite at home,” she said. “I had some friends who went to Millsaps who loved it, so I transferred. As it turns out, Millsaps was exactly where I needed to be and I blossomed there intellectually.”

Claudia pursued a double major in Spanish and Business Administration. Attending the liberal arts school allowed her to explore other classes as well, some of her favorites were art history, French literature and political science.

“The robust academic environment, small classes and close-knit faculty relationships provided just the right atmosphere,” she explained. “That, combined with the variety of classes was instrumental in shaping my approach to learning and problem-solving.”

After graduating in 1982, she continued at Millsaps, achieving her MBA a year later, the same year her father retired from UMMC.

“My parents moved back to Vienna so I went back as well,” she said. She began working in sales for Die Presse, a major Austrian daily newspaper, developing international supplements, including one covering the 1984 World’s Fair in New Orleans. A chance meeting while in NOLA turned into a marketing director position with a startup exporting crawfish to Europe.

Claudia, her husband and three sons.

Returning to Vienna, Claudia worked in professional search and private banking before marrying a German diplomat, with whom she has raised three sons.

As the wife of a diplomat, Claudia was stationed throughout the world, her Millsaps education helping her adapt and capitalize on each opportunity at a new career option in each location.

Television interview at the first show of Volkswagen in the automotive fair in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

In Miami she helped Volkswagen start up a Latin America office; in Ethiopia, she consulted for a group working with the same automaker; in Berlin, she worked for the German African Business Association before branching into the arts.

“A Norwegian friend was looking for support at his new art gallery in Berlin,” she explained. “I decided to work with him and for the first time chose to do something related to my hobby, the arts. I took the plunge and had the best time combining my business knowledge with art.”

During the next posting in Saudi Arabia, she continued to be active in the arts as she helped initiate an art exchange between Germany and Saudi.

Today, she spends her time between Berlin and Maryland and remains heavily involved in the arts. Combining her business acumen and love for the arts, she supported Jackson friend, Maestro William Garfield Walker, in the launch of his Vienna-based Nova Orchester Wien. An orchestra quickly gaining worldwide prominence with performances for the G20 economic forum in 2020 and in venues such as the Wiener Musikverein and Wiener Konzerthaus.

Additionally, she writes about art and life, intertwining her vast cross-cultural experiences. She’s working on a project that may bring music and art from Berlin and Vienna to Natchez.

Claudia’s global adventures showcase the impact of her Millsaps College education. The diverse academic opportunities and close-knit community equipped her with the intellectual agility and resilience needed to navigate her dynamic and often unpredictable life. Whether selling cars, launching an art gallery or fostering international art exchanges, Claudia’s Millsaps education has been instrumental in her ability to adapt, thrive and contribute meaningfully across the world.