Name: Sarah Pike
Sarah Pike, a Las Vegas native, wanted to experience college out-of-state. While researching her options, she decided to take a college match survey. That’s how she came across Westminster College. Sarah had never heard of the college and didn’t know anyone in Utah, but she was curious. After requesting more information, she was contacted by an admissions counselor and decided to take a campus tour. “It [Westminster] felt like natural fit,” she says. None of the other schools jumped out the way Westminster did.
After being admitted, Sarah took the opportunity to stay overnight with a campus resident. Sarah was captivated by Westminster—the campus life, tight-knit community, location. “It’s one thing to come on campus and take a tour, and then its another to actually get to know the students,” she says.
Sarah graduated from Westminster this spring. She’s now preparing for her next step—graduate school. Thanks to the guidance and advice of several wonderful and trusted professors, she decided on a path fairly easily. Sarah plans to focus her graduate studies on English—specifically composition studies, rhetorical theory, and technical writing—and hopes to teach at the college level. She is beginning her master’s degree at Iowa State University fall 2010, as well as teaching freshman composition as a teaching assistant.
Sarah’s writing garnered great successes at Westminster. One of her favorite classes was Communication Theory and Persuasion. Though the course involved several intense papers, she loved it and learned a great deal. “We got to dive into a variety of different topics from pop culture to politics and more,” she says. “I wrote my final paper on Barack Obama. How and why he won over America and what caused people to like him—the rhetoric of it all.”
Praised for her paper, Sarah was encouraged by her professor to enter the Undergraduate Research Fair. “I always had it in my head it was for science students only,” she says. But as it turns out, it’s open to all departments. The event celebrates and recognizes the academic achievement of students engaged in high-level research and allows them to present their work to the campus community.
The following year, she entered the Undergraduate Research Fair with a paper titled, “MTV’s 16 and Pregnant: Restructuring Classes and Selling Struggles for Profit.” Sarah wrote the paper for a graduate-level class within Westminster’s MPC program that she took as an independent study. Sarah has turned her paper into a shorter article and is working to get it published by a pop culture magazine.
That’s just the beginning to Sarah’s writing successes, though. She not only had the opportunity to collaborate with peers, but professors as well. Working alongside communication professor Christy Seifert, Sarah had a technical writing class project featured in the Deseret News, a local newspaper, and co-wrote a rhetoric paper with Seifert about the Twilight phenomena—which they presented at the 2010 National Pop Culture Conference in St. Louis and will be submitting to The Journal of Popular Culture.
Needless to say, Sarah’s chosen path of study has been not only busy, but also suitable. Other courses Sarah enjoyed were during May Term, a month-long semester offering a variety of fun, non-traditional courses and trips. Each year, several May Term trips are organized by various campus departments and chaperoned by two to three professors. Her freshman year, Sarah took a May Term course on Jane Austin, and another on Oscar Wilde; and in May 2009, Sarah and a few of her roommates spent three weeks exploring Spain, Italy, and Greece.
“You actually get credit for May Term courses, which is cool because you’re able to travel while learning about really specific subject areas,” she says. The education department arranged her first trip, which was focused on comparing international education systems.
After returning from an amazing first travel May Term experience, Sarah helped plan a trip for 2010. Alongside three communication professors, she coordinated a trip to the British Isles—Scotland, England, Wales and Ireland—focused on travel writing, film, and photography. The process of organizing such a trip requires professors willing to chaperone, a proposal to the school and students interested in going.
Westminster was a great fit for Sarah. The experiences and opportunities are unbeatable. While the initial cost of a private college is high, Westminster provides generous scholarship offers. There are also a variety of involvement opportunities with clubs and organizations. “Because it’s a lot smaller than other schools, you don’t get lost in a sea of students,” she says.
Sarah volunteered with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Utah, was a Resident Advisor for three years, a campus tour guide/Student Representative for two years, an Assistant for the Vice President of Enrollment, a Peer Academic Advisor in the START Center, an intern for the campus Writing Center, and was part of the Westminster Alumni Mentoring Program.
Sarah suggests prospective students get a feel for different schools so they can compare, but adds, “I think most everyone can fit in very well here.” Students are provided guidance, especially as a freshman; and not only do professors have an open door policy, but you’re on a first name basis with them. “It’s a small campus, but a big atmosphere. It has a big spirit,” she says. “I think it’s the best choice I probably ever made.”