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Bringing a passion for the past into the present

History means something special to MNU graduate Sarah Wacker (’15). Her inspiration for American history stems from memories of her grandfather, of leafing through his dusty history books, and of her wonder as she roamed the halls of museums.

“I have loved history since I was in the 4th grade,” Wacker said. “For me, the perfect day was one I got to spend in a museum. I always admired how museum curators took what was old and dusty and made it come to life again.”

Wacker, the 2015 recipient of the Outstanding History Major of the Year award, also earned MNU’s annual Maurine Dickerson Research Award for her senior thesis on Godey’s Lady Book, a 19th-Century women’s periodical. Wacker equated women’s wide use of the periodical to the equivalent of today’s Pinterest.

This academic achievement award recognizes students who have written exceptional-quality research papers. Each year, it is given to one traditional undergraduate student, and the other to an undergraduate student in the adult degree-completion program. The recipients of the award receive $250 cash and a certificate of recognition.

Wacker now works as a lead educational programs attendant at the Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead in Overland Park, Kansas. She first began her position there in 2010 during the farmstead’s season that runs from April to October. Wacker dresses in 1900 period costume and rotates her daily roles among the establishment’s schoolhouse, bank, blacksmith shop, Indian encampment, general store and barbershop.

“It’s my job to give an overview and insight into the 1900 community in the rural Kansas area,” Wacker said. She interacts with the family and school tours who come through in order to give the guests a memorable and pleasant experience at the farmstead.

“I want to be one of those people who can make history come alive; that is really important to me,” Wacker said.

Although she knew what her passion was upon her arrival at MNU, her passion blossomed under the care of MNU faculty and staff. Wacker first visited MNU during a campus tour with her parents, and it was then she met Dr. Shanti Thomas, professor of English.

It was the people, Wacker said, who really sold her on the idea of making MNU her home-away-from-home. “We got good vibes about MNU from talking to [Thomas],” Wacker said. “She just made us so comfortable.”

By her senior year, Wacker said she fully realized how different MNU staff is from the “regular fare” of college professors. “After [Thomas’] classes, she and I ended up having some awesome conversations,” Wacker said. “Eventually, she invited me to come over to her house and made me Indian food for dinner. She prayed over me and was just so incredibly sweet. She is such a prayer warrior for her students.”

Thomas is not the only professor who helped make Wacker’s MNU experience exceptional.

Dr. Elizabeth George, assistant professor of history, interviewed Wacker when she first came to MNU regarding her major. What started off as a formal professor-teacher relationship blossomed into a friendship over Wacker’s following semesters.

“I used to visit her in her office to talk about class and my senior thesis, and it would easily turn into a two-hour conversation. It was great to have her support and encouragement through that whole process. Sometimes we would just giggle about girl things, talk about her up-coming wedding, and about what it means to be the ideal woman.”

Wacker said had it not been for the relationships she formed with her professors, her experience at MNU would not have been what it was.

“What impressed me the most was seeing how much [professors] cared,” she said. “It was such a sweet thing to have them pour into my life every day. You don’t have to be afraid of being candid with [professors] about questions you have, or about life in general.”

 

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Fall 2017

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