Alumnus’ semester abroad brings career into focus

When it was time for Andrew Wickersham to attend college, he had some concerns.

“I was worried about the increasingly utilitarian philosophy being pushed at many larger schools — that college is about learning technical skills needed for employment,” he said.

Wickersham decided to seek a university that was focused on graduating better people, not just potential employees.

“I was very conscious of the fact that I needed to mature intellectually, emotionally and spiritually,” he said. “I knew that only a Christian liberal arts school would do that.”

The Huntington native didn’t have to look far for this kind of education.

As a freshman, Wickersham had a few ideas for post-graduate work but was able to bring these interests into focus through summer internships, summer classes and studying abroad — opportunities recommended by his professors.His semester in the Middle East helped him marry his fascination with the places described in Scripture and his passion for history and politics.

“I could no longer think about the Middle East in an abstract way,” Wickersham said. “I could not help but to attach faces to research questions.”

His “transformative” experience prompted him to pursue a masters in Middle Eastern studies at the University of Chicago. With his degree, he strives to education the public on what’s currently occurring in the Middle East and about the events in history that led to them.

The 2015 graduate thinks this can be best accomplished this by implementing a Middle Eastern Studies program at a small university.

“It is important to me that the institution be a smaller school so that I could focus extensively on the teaching aspects of higher education,” Wickersham said.

Wickersham remains in contact with his professors, who have continued to offer career advice and recommendations.

“The faculty-student relationship is probably Huntington University’s greatest strength,” he said.

One of the first things he noticed as a freshman was how the history professors good-naturedly shared ideas and laughs with each other. This environment spread to the department’s lounge and students who spent time there.

“It made it a pleasure to spend time outside of class around the faculty offices,” Wickersham said. “And some of the most important things I learned as a student I learned in that environment.”