Where did you attend college? What was your major?

Part II: If you did graduate work, what degree(s) did you pursue and what were their topics?

Barry Crossno, Friends General Conference

I went to the University of Dallas, which is small, Catholic, liberal arts college in Dallas, Texas. I majored in History. I then immediately followed up by going to graduate school and earned a master’s degree in Modern European History.

For more of Barry’s story, click here

Diane Randall, Friends Committee on National Legislation:

I went to the University of Nebraska at Omaha and I studied teaching. I actually wanted to be a health teacher, so I studied health and English.

I did a little graduate school, but never finished. I don’t have a lot of regrets, but that’s one. I really wish that I would have done that. And there was a time I looked at divinity school. I looked at both Harvard Divinity School and Yale Divinity School when I got out to Connecticut, and almost went through the process of applying, and then it just felt like, “Well, what would I do with this degree?” In retrospect I think, “Oh, well of course I probably would have done what I’m doing right now.”

For more of Diane’s story, click here

Jen Karsten, Pendle Hill:

I went to Elon College, in North Carolina. I majored in journalism and electronic communications, and I minored in psychology. I really wanted to be a journalist who would travel, and embed with rebel factions and community groups, and see the real story of what was happening beyond what is shown through normal news channels. I have a sense of heroism for what I’ll call “true journalists” that are led to follow that path and reveal the real pan and beauty of the world. I never really lost my wanderlust.

I did master’s work in environmental education with a focus on community-building. I did doctoral studies in the Bioresource Engineering department of McGill University, but my topic was  related to education, and how what’s known from the field of complexity thinking has relevance for education, culture, and how we conceive of ourselves as a part of a web, an ecosystem. My academic career, sort of similar to my vocational career, has been less a matter of deciding at an early age what the final chapter would be and writing the book to get there; it’s been more like swinging on a vine in the jungle and grabbing the next interesting vine that comes by, because it’s interesting.

For more of Jen’s story, click here

Shan Cretin, American Friends Service Committee:

I studied mechanical engineering at MIT. I was the first woman in seven years to major in mechanical engineering, and the only woman in my class when I was there.

I went from MIT to Yale, and I got a Masters in Public Health, and I was working with people who were health care managers and designing healthcare systems. I was interested in how one got the best research from medical research into practice. Then I taught for a year at Yale, with a man who was rather unusual. He was a professor at Yale, a nurse, and he didn’t have a doctorate. His wife was a surgeon, and in those days that was not a usual connection. He wanted me to go into academia, and he said, “You better get a Ph.D.” So I went back to MIT and got a Ph.D. in operations research, which is kind of mathematical modeling and decision making, models of decision making and probability. I then went on and worked in public health for about 15 years, taught at Harvard and then at UCLA, and did research on a number of things: lots of work on clinical practice guidelines, errors in medicine, and a big project on rural health care systems in the People’s Republic of China.

For more of Shan’s story, click here

Gabe Ehri, Friends Journal:

I attended Haverford College, and majored in English. I was aiming for pre-med, but at the same time that I found the college level sciences very hard, I was learning the study and appreciation of literature and what was going on beneath the surface of written human culture. Culture was fascinating to me, and I was making connections there that I thought were interesting. I worked as one of the editors for the bi-college newspaper, which was another way to stay connected to journalism. I also did work-study in the academic computing center, and spent a lot of time learning the craft of troubleshooting, which is a really useful practice that has served me well: isolating problems, understanding systems well enough to know what to check when, and following an algorithm to a conclusion with the goal of helping people solve something they need solving.

For more of Gabe’s story, click here

Christina Repoley, Quaker Voluntary Service:

I was a Religious Studies and Spanish double major at Guilford College.

For my M.Div, I officially had a concentration in Church and Leadership Studies, or something like that. But before I started my M.Div, the idea and leading for Quaker Voluntary Service (QVS) was already in the world. I wasn’t sure where, coming out of the M.Div, that was actually going to happen. But it was what I was carrying in, something I was really passionate about and engaged in—so if there was any real focus, it actually was in preparing me for that. I wrote my M.Div thesis on the history of Quaker service and service as a religious practice, trying to answer some of questions that I had for myself about why past iterations and experiences of Quaker service were so important in and how they shaped people. Getting to have some focused intellectual time to look at some of those questions was really, really good. But I also, in this three year program, just took some time to do things I had never really done before: took preaching classes, New Testament, Old Testament classes-things I didn’t have a lot of knowledge or focus in, which was really, really wonderful.

For more of Christina’s story, click here

Drew Smith, Friends Council on Education:

I went to Earlham College, and my major was United States history. Earlham was awesome. I think at the time I was there, I felt like, “This is probably the most truly living Quaker place I’ve ever been.” It felt like a place that was really trying to live into those values, as ugly and messy as it sometimes could be. I felt like most of the professors were deeply interested in leading us along an alternate path that was deeper and more connected with human hearts than my classmates at high school experienced. I felt it while I was there. It was a great place.

I went to the University of Pennsylvania and did graduate studies in Educational Leadership about 15 years after I graduated from Earlham.

For more of Drew’s story, click here

Doug Bennett, Earlham College (Emeritus):

I went to Haverford, where I majored in Political Science.

A Ph.D. in Political Science from Yale with a dissertation that was a deep mistake. I got drawn down a Alice in Wonderland rabbit hole of wandering. There are explanations in the social sciences that look at why human beings do what they do, and there are explanations that give reasons for why people do what they do. Those two are not easily bridged. Social scientists don’t like to talk about that, but it’s a profound problem. All this time I was aware that I was off on a pointed headed intellectual problem and not addressing issues of war or race or inequality that I was also interested in pursuing. As I left graduate school, I had a predicament of casting myself differently than my dissertation made me look, if I was going to stay in a college professor, to get tenure publishing things that were publishable in ways that are recognizable in my field.

For more of Doug’s story, click here

Colin Saxton, Friends United Meeting:

I did return. I went back to school, almost right away, and did an undergraduate degree in psychology at Portland State University. Later on in life, I went back and got a master’s degree at Eastern Mennonite Seminary in theology and church history. Later on, I went back and got a doctoral degree from George Fox University in spiritual formation and leadership.

For more of Colin’s story, click here


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