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.


Sarah Beswick (BLAS '18) Accepted to the Masters of Social Work Program at St. Ambrose University

Sarah Beswick.I chose Western Illinois University to keep the tradition alive for my dad and the Quad Cities Campus professors were flexible, professional, and understanding of my life outside of the classroom. Western Illinois University in the Quad Cities is definitely the place to be for understanding professors and a home-like atmosphere!

Cierra Davis (BLAS '18) Attending Law School at University of Dayton

Before coming to WIU-QC, I attended Northeastern University located in Colorado. During my sophomore year, I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease; despite doctors’ orders, I wanted to continue my schooling, and after I obtained my Associate's degree, I returned home to the Quad Cities to undergo advanced treatment and to acquire my Bachelors degree. I chose the Liberal Arts & Sciences major because I wanted toCierra Davis. combine my passions with English, Psychology, and Legal Studies.

While at WIU, I formulated meaningful relationships with my professors and advisors. My LAS advisor, Kenneth Wheeler, went above and beyond helping me with law school preparation, as well as making sure I was in thought-provoking courses that aligned with my career path. Dr. Everett Hamner instilled in me the conviction needed to address controversial issues, which has empowered me to fight for victims’ rights, especially among those who have been sexually exploited. Dr. Jeffrey Sim taught me how to articulate and depict the minds of criminals, and through numerous honors projects, I’ve learned how to formulate forensic case analysis. Dr. Suzanne Bailey intensified my urge to become a criminal lawyer, and I hope to obtain the same skillset and poise that she conveys.

Ultimately, the Liberal Arts & Sciences degree prepared me for law school at the University of Dayton, where I will be studying criminal law with an emphasis on human rights and human sex trafficking.

Rebecca Graham (English '18) Pursuing Graduate Degree at University of Illinois

When I decided to return to complete my BA, I chose WIU-QC because of its proximity and affordability.  I chose the English major because I wanted to pursue a career in Library & Information Science – I did not know at the time that WIU-QC is developing a reputation for cultivating future Librarians, but I have had the Rebecca Graham.opportunity to work with several other students pursuing a similar career path.  My professors, Dr. Daniel Malachuk and Dr. Everett Hamner, have gone above and beyond my every expectation – they have spent countless hours teaching and mentoring me, encouraging me to present my papers at research conferences here at WIU as well as at the Sigma Tau Delta National Convention, and to enter research paper contests (my Senior Honors Thesis won 3rd prize in the Phi Kappa Phi contest).  My professors have also assisted me in applying for scholarships, which have been so helpful – I was able to fully fund my last 3 semesters with grants and scholarships.  Dr. Malachuk specifically helped me to set-up an internship at the Black Hawk College Library so that I could gain experience, and because I completed my internship early on, it also served as an opportunity for me to ensure that I really did enjoy the profession before I spent too much time and money on that path.  Luckily, I did love every minute of that internship, and I have been accepted into the MLIS program at the University of Illinois, the top-ranked MLIS program in the country.  I know that the skills I have learned while at WIU-QC are going to help me to be successful at U of IL as well.

Kassandra DeFrieze (English '15) Development Manager for the Girl Scouts of Eastern Iowa

Kassandra DeFriezeAfter 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 Victoria Drewsacademic 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), graduated in 2018 from 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 alysa grimesin 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!

UPDATE 02/06/2019: I am currently a law clerk to Justice Abbi Silver of the Nevada Supreme Court. I basically read the attorney's briefs, research the law, and then make a recommendation to the Justice to help her make a decision on the case. Just enjoying life outside of law school.

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 Joan Padilladoor 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 John McLaughlinproblems 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 Jesus Delgadobackground 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 Jaymie Schuldtallowed 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 Jenna Bounds Hartwas 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.

Jeffrey Ash (BLAS '09) Learning Architect KONE Americas

Jeffrey Ash"When I first came to WIU-QC, I was not well-prepared for classes that challenged my views on society and challenged the status quo. Dr. Werner's classes and facilitation significantly opened up my eyes to the genesis of many recurring issues and injustices in our society and theories as to why they're somehow allowed to perpetuate. My classes in Liberal Arts and Sciences provided me with this ability to look at life through a more critical, solution-focused lens.

Dr. Werner's sociology of work summer class was by far the most eye-opening courses I had ever taken. Ever. Coming from factory floors and now working four years in corporate training, I am constantly reminded that I need to be a champion for the people who are out in the field doing the real work vs. just scientifically managing.

Dr. Malachuk and Dr. Hamner's courses for my English minor also helped me elevate my ability to understand concepts and use well-crafted arguments to refine my ideas and defend my conclusions.

My faculty's letters of recommendation also helped me to get thousands of dollars in scholarships which greatly relieved my student loan burden.

I've been a Learning Architect for KONE Americas (elevators and escalators) for the past five years, and have been able to travel all over the country and even to Finland and Mexico to work on customized training solutions.  Without the ability to think critically like your classes encouraged, there is no doubt that I would not be successful in this challenging, but rewarding position."

Joseph Boyle (graduated '09), filmmaker, MFA student, filmmaker, & ESL teacher in South Korea

I graduated in 2009 officially in the BOT (now BGS) Joseph Boyleprogram 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.