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The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

Wichita State's independent, student-run news source

The Sunflower

‘Come alive’: Panelists share value of humanities, encourage stretching comfort zones

Kristy Mace
Elizabeth Wingo, director of risk management for Sedgwick County, speaks during the Humanities Panel in the RSC on Oct. 3. Wingo sat between Susan Castro and Robin Henry.

While working in hospitality in the Bahamas, graduate student Clarence Albury made it his mission to improve the office’s morale by leaving poems and inspirational quotes on about a hundred desks. Eventually, his CEO gave him the task of creating a company blog.

 Albury, who is now pursuing his master’s in creative writing at Wichita State, said his bachelor’s in Chinese language helped him stretch himself and his comfort zone. He encouraged students to take similar risks in their future careers.

“For me, every single job that I’ve had after, you know, undergrad, I pay attention to the things that made me come alive … and it always come back full circle to that one thing … the power of the written word,” Albury said.

 Albury spoke on the “Beyond the Degree” humanities panel on Tuesday, hosted by the Fairmount College Student Advisory Council to help students expand their connections and explore different career paths in humanities.

Several panelists spoke on how their humanities background gave them valuable skills for their and their students’ careers.

History professor John Dreifort brought up how a former history student applied the skills that he learned from his degree – like writing, research and putting information together – to writing science fiction novels. Dreifort emphasized that the humanities provide transferable skills.

“It’s not just the first job you get this important—what are you going to do for the fifth job, or the tenth job?” Dreifort said. “The skills you learn in liberal arts and sciences and the humanities, as well as other parts of the general education curriculum, are valuable your whole life.”

 Elizabeth Wingo, a risk management director for Sedgwick County, got her undergraduate degrees in psychology and women’s studies. She said the humanities helps students develop critical thinking skills, communication and empathy, which has proven valuable in her field.

“Bringing that forth in the work that you do on a daily basis, I think is what sets people with humanities degrees apart. And they’re some of the best people I work with,” Wingo said.

Several panelists also discussed the importance of mentorship and taking initiative to make connections.

Robin Henry, WSU associate professor and chair of Women’s Ethnicity & Intersectional Studies, said that although she was shy and introverted while her small liberal arts college in North Texas, she started attending office hours with her first history professor. Both in their first year as student and teacher respectively, they are now “lifelong friends.”

Henry encouraged students to similarly attend office hours and invite professors to events. 

“Show up places and invite us places. We’re all part of the same WSU community, so let’s participate with that,” Henry said. 

Wingo also recommended that students open themselves up to mentors in different fields than their own.

 “It’s okay to have two mentors that are on opposite ends of the spectrum because they’re gonna push you in different ways that make you stronger and more well-rounded,” Wingo said.

The Fairmount College Student Advisory Council plans to host more panels this year, including ones on student internships and fields like math, statistics and physics.

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About the Contributors
Courtney Brown, News Editor
Courtney Brown is one of the news editors for The Sunflower. She previously worked as a reporter and assistant news editor. Brown uses she/her pronouns.
Kristy Mace, Photo Editor
Kristy Mace is the photo editor for The Sunflower. She's majoring in psychology. Currently a junior, Mace hopes to go on to get her Ph.D. and become a neuropsychologist. She also plays for Wichita State's bowling team and does professional photography aside from The Sunflower.

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