Design your own degree with Bradley’s Individualized Major Program

Renae Stenger ’11 drinks dry ice during a Lakeview Museum science workshop.

October 3, 2011

By Ivy Hillman ’12

Renae Stenger ’11 has some advice for incoming students: if Bradley doesn’t already offer the program you’re looking for, design it yourself! Stenger received a degree in museum education through the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences’ Individualized Major Program, or IMP.

IMP allowed Stenger to take the exact courses she needed in order to turn an exciting internship into a rewarding profession.

“I decided on museum education because I fell in love with working at Lakeview Museum, where I started interning in February 2009,” Stenger said.

Dr. Kelly McConnaughay, associate dean of the college, helped Stenger identify the courses that would be the most appropriate for her educational needs.

“In addition to a variety of courses in areas of science, history and the fine arts, she also took some education classes that would help her translate her knowledge into educational curricula and exhibits in a museum setting,” McConnaughay said.

“Without the IMP, I would not have been able to take such varied classes without getting multiple degrees,” Stenger said. 

Stenger’s mentors at the museum also helped her out with the process, identifying specific skills they hoped she would have upon graduation.

“Several months into my internship, my bosses, Sheldon Shafer and Ann Schmitt, asked me to consider changing to an individualized major in museum education. I agreed and was excited about how it would improve my prospects of getting a job at the museum when I graduated,” Stenger said.

The strategy paid off – now Stenger reports to Lakeview Museum not as an intern, but as a museum educator and researcher. She presents and produces shows in the planetarium and gives tours, science demonstrations, classes and workshops to school groups.

Stenger is also working on projects for a new museum currently being built in downtown Peoria, the Peoria Riverfront Museum.

“I will be helping populate our new collection for the Peoria history exhibit, The Street, and the Illinois River Exhibit. I will also be working on several grants developing new content for the PRM,” Stenger said.

In order to design a major in the IMP, interested students should consult with the College of LAS dean’s office, where they will be guided through a proposal process.