Five graduates reflect and look to the future

August 9, 2011

Whether they plan to pursue master’s degrees in public administration or history, work for a museum or library, seek a full-time position in human resources, or write a book, five 2011 Bradley graduates are counting on their degrees in history from Bradley University to help them pursue their dreams.

Kate Green, a May 2011 graduate with majors in history and political science, has been accepted to the University of Illinois Springfield where she will pursue a master’s degree in public administration. In conjunction with the Master of Public Administration, she will be interning with a department in state government through the Graduate Public Service Internship program. After graduate school, Kate hopes to find employment in the not-for-profit arena or with a government agency.

A significant memory of her time at Bradley is the epiphany that she had while moving out of the dorm after freshman year. After just nine months, Kate realized Bradley had become a second home. “When my parents first dropped me off freshman year, I was petrified of what was in my future,” she said. “However, when I drove away after my first year at college, I knew without a shadow of a doubt that choosing Bradley was one of the best decisions I had ever made.” 

As a student with a double major, Kate discovered that history and political science are inextricably connected. Her favorite assignments allowed her to combine the analytical skills that she was learning in both disciplines. In her Historical Methods course, for instance, Kate explored how shifting post-1960s political ideologies have shaped historical interpretations of the Great Society and the War on Poverty. She also enjoyed primary research projects that prompted her to think about how people have interacted historically to shape the world in which we live.

In her history courses, she developed the “insatiable desire to understand the human story” and an understanding “that there is not just one truth.” This fundamental way of approaching the past, she said, has utility beyond the classroom: “It plays into all other aspects of my life, including how I approach my political beliefs as well as personal relationships.”

Grace Dwyer ended her years at Bradley in 2011 by graduating summa cum laude and being inducted into the Phi Kappa Phi Academic Hall of Fame in May. After four years of committed and active participation in different groups at Bradley and in the Peoria community, she will be greatly missed by the Intervarsity Christian Fellowship (ICF), in which she served on the planning committee; the Bradley Symphonic Winds, in which she played clarinet; and the Phi Alpha Theta History Honors Society, for which she served as the vice president. She was inducted into the National Honors Society in 2007 and was on the Dean’s List for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences from her freshman year on. She was still contemplating many possibilities following her graduation, including working for museums, libraries, or historical societies.

Heather Hagedorn enjoyed the accessibility and friendliness of the professors at Bradley, and she said she never had a class in which the professor didn’t know everyone’s name. She plans to attend the University of Illinois Springfield starting in the fall, where she will pursue a master’s degree in public history. At Springfield, she will work as a teaching assistant in the history department.

Brian Wake is a nontraditional student who decided to come back to school to earn a degree for career enhancement. It has evolved into something much more. “From the experience here at Bradley, I have rediscovered a love of learning that has led to a desire to further my education and start a journey toward a new career,” said Brian. He is seeking a full-time position in human resources and plans to pursue graduate school part time beginning in the spring of 2012. Brian remembers the first class he took at Bradley, which was over his lunch hour. “Being a nontraditional student, I came directly from work wearing a suit.” The first three students he met that day wondered if he was the teacher. “Much to their relief, I was not, they were in the correct classroom, and Dr. (Philip) Jones was, in fact, the professor.”

It is difficult for Brian to “pinpoint one assignment or book that was a favorite,” due to the “outstanding faculty and course offerings” at Bradley. However, completing the History Methods course (HIS 350) and the Research Seminar (HIS 450) in particular gave him a sense of accomplishment. “The combination of the two courses allows you to apply what you have learned from all your history courses. The emphasis on research and writing is such an integral part of earning a history degree at Bradley.”

Susan Goodrich returned to school after discovering that most of her previous college credits would transfer to Bradley, where she had been working for almost six years. “I was the only one in my family who did not have at least an undergrad degree, and I had always regretted not finishing,” Susan said. Earning a degree was her original goal, but now she believes it would be a shame not to use it. “I’d love to come back to work at Bradley, or I might write a book. Historical fiction might be fun, I have 14 years of good memories at Bradley. My co-workers and bosses were great to me when I worked here, and my instructors have been fantastic since I became a student,” she said. Her two favorite class memories are her first PowerPoint presentation, which was on Ivan the Terrible in her Non-Western Civilization class, and an independent study project for which she read Betty Friedan’s Feminine Mystique. Completing the first project was a big accomplishment for Susan, and the second “gave me a chance to find out what was happening in the women’s movement while I was at home being a suburban housewife.”