Quad Cities Campus
Alumni and Career Success Stories
Today's job market is no cakewalk, and sometimes people worry about pursuing a major that doesn't have a single obvious career outcome. However, the reality is that employers in the Quad Cities and beyond regularly tell us that the key characteristics they are seeking in graduates are the very things at which the arts and sciences most excel at cultivating. These include:
- the ability to make sense of complicated texts and put their key ideas in understandable terms;
- the capacity to write clearly and intelligibly for a broad range of readers;
- awareness of and preparation for working effectively with the immense diversity of people who live in the United States today; and
- depths of character and the self-knowledge necessary for solid decision-making, both in groups and independently.
Whether at the undergraduate or graduate level, a degree in the arts and sciences at WIU-QC prepares students for both their professional and personal lives in ways that are often unexpected and enduring. Here are just a few of the things that our alumni have said about their experiences at WIU-QC.
Kassandra DeFrieze (English '15) Development Manager for the Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa
After three years of transferring from schools that just had no place for a student like me to be successful, I came to Western as an English major. The professors here helped me apply for a scholarship to help pay for an internship. I secured an internship with WQPT - PBS Quad Cities as a Development Assistant, using my English degree to write and edit grants and publications. I spent the next two years with WQPT, funded by the same scholarship. I was able to trade hours spent at a job to an internship that was going to take me somewhere. I gained a mentor that has been absolutely crucial to my personal growth. I gained the experience that all employers are looking for. I networked, met the right people, gained exposure and practiced my skills in the real world. As a result, I secured a full-time position as a Development Manger for the Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa and Western Illinois before I even graduated.
Victoria Drews (English '14) pursuing graduate degree at University of Illinois
The affordability and location was my initial attraction to WIU QC, yet I soon realized this college offers so much more. My advisor invested time in getting to know me, and my professors were genuinely interested in my academic and professional success. They pushed me to continually improve my writing and critical thinking skills, and taught me how to make sense of complicated material, communicate effectively, facilitate discussions, and step outside my comfort zone. Outside of class, my professors were always willing to take time out of their schedules for me, whether it was talking about a paper or writing a letter of recommendation. Currently, I’m pursuing a graduate degree in Library and Information Sciences at University of Illinois, which is the top school for that degree. I’m constantly utilizing the skills acquired at WIU QC to succeed at the graduate level, and I believe earning my BA in English at this college gave me numerous advantages over other graduate students.
Alysa Grimes (BLAS '13), attending Williams S. Boyd School of Law at the University of Nevada-Las Vegas
When I started taking classes as a Liberal Arts and Sciences major at Western Illinois University-QC, I was coming back to school after a very difficult time in my life. In addition to my personal barriers, my previous college experiences were characterized by feeling lost in the crowd - invisible to professors, advisors, and the administration. In contrast, WIU completely defies what I considered to be a "normal" college experience through its accessible, student-centered and inspirational staff (including my advisor, Kenny Wheeler) which enabled me to form strong connections with people who helped me discover my passion for social justice as well as my ability to succeed academically. These dedicated and knowledgeable people (particularly my professors Dr. Everett Hamner and Dr. Tammy Werner) also helped me apply and get accepted to the William S. Boyd School of Law at the University of Nevada - Las Vegas. I am so proud to be an alumna of Western Illinois University-QC, and I will take both the academic and life lessons I learned there with me to law school with an aim to succeed and make a difference!
Joan Padilla (BLAS '12), Executive Director, Home of Hope Cancer Wellness Center
After graduating in May, 2012, I ran unsuccessfully for the county position of recorder. It was a wonderful experience campaigning and meeting all the Whiteside County residents, but it wasn't meant to be (it is hard to beat an incumbent!). So as the saying goes, for every door that closes, one opens.
I received a call in early December from an acquaintance from Sauk Valley Community College here in the area. She is a board member for the local Cancer Wellness Center and thought I would be a good candidate for the Executive Director position. Since I was actively looking for work, I submitted my resume. As you can see, the board gave me the opportunity and here I am 1.5 years later. I still pinch myself thinking about what they did for me giving me this opportunity. I saw the position of Executive Director as something to work toward, not land on the first try! I remember back at WIU discussing with others that I thought my future would be with a nonprofit! Here I am! Home of Hope has been in existence for 11 years now. It is a very rewarding position as well as challenging. I am "chief fundraiser" as we do not charge our families for any of the services we provide. The organization is completely dependent on community support. I have 5 major sponsors that provide for about 50% of the budget and the rest comes from other events and sources. I am constantly out and about presenting programs about what Home of Hope does. I knew all those course presentations would come in handy!
John McLaughlin (MLAS ’12), US Army
I enjoyed the multi-disciplinary approach to the problems we encounter in society. The MLAS program allowed me to choose an exit option that combined my educational curiosities with a personal commitment to social justice by implementing a small-scale, community-based environmental sustainability initiative in Haiti.
Jesus Delgado (MLAS ’11), information technologist
When I went into the MLAS program, I little or no background in the social sciences. However, my professors challenged me to complete an internship and create an applied project tied to my work with the Quad Cities Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. During my time there, I saved the organization thousands of dollars by managing its website and by creating and integrating online financial applications. I also constructed and managed social media outlets to help promote the organization, which in turn increased membership and visibility.
What I appreciated most about the WIU-QC MLAS degree was the variety and depth of the subjects at hand. The combination of different disciplines and perspectives prepared me to embrace the totality of society. I now work as an analyst for a multinational IT company, Stefanini, which is headquartered in Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Jaymie Schuldt (MLAS ’11), Marketing and Development Director, Spring Forward Learning Center
My favorite aspect of the MLAS program was that it allowed me to enroll in a variety of different classes, which represented my broad set of interests. The faculty and quality of classes definitely prepared me for life after graduation. Now I’m employed as the Marketing and Development Director for the Spring Forward Learning Center.
Jenna Bounds Hart (BLAS ’11), public relations, Mississippi Valley Regional Blood Center
I very much enjoyed my course work at WIU-QC and it was beneficial for me in my current career for obvious reasons. Properly formatting essays translated over to writing standard operating procedures and training documents. Group work translated over to organizing projects involving multiple individuals or departments in a variety of locations. Research papers translated to researching effective training methods and organizing clear and concise training plans for employees. Those skills are invaluable.
However, the most substantial lesson I learned applies to more than just my career … it applies to my life in general. I used to look at the world in terms of black and white, yes or no – very binary terms and conditions. But being exposed to so many different people and perspectives in the BLAS program at WIU-QC helped me to realize that the world isn’t always organized into such neat and clean answers. There are many shades between black and white; there are many ways to view the world in which we live. The BLAS program helped me to open myself up to new ideas and perspectives, which I learned to appreciate much more than I ever could have before.
Joseph Boyle (graduated '09), filmmaker, MFA student, filmmaker, & ESL teacher in South Korea
I graduated in 2009 officially in the BOT (now BGS) program with a Minor in English, but most of my courses were alongside students in the BLAS program. Liberal arts & sciences courses at WIU-QC helped me to be well-rounded in several disciplines, which has proved to be useful as an independent filmmaker, where traditional and expected solutions are not always available and new ideas must often be forged. One thing I loved about this program is that I didn't have to squeeze my schedule to fit a predetermined class load. Rather, I chose the classes that would benefit me most in the little time I had available.