Although William Jewell’s Applied Critical Thought and Inquiry major option takes effect beginning with the class of 2008, Jewell students have enjoyed the challenges and opportunities of the college’s rigorous interdisciplinary core curriculum for the past 10 years.
Among those who have already benefited from the Jewell Journey is graduating senior Betsy Bramon, who took advantage of the many opportunities for self-enrichment afforded her during her four years at William Jewell.
Betsy was a Pryor Leadership Fellow and a member of the American Humanics Student Association. A Resident Assistant on campus, she performed in many theater productions, sang in the choir and worked with student groups like Unity and Progressive Students for America. She participated in service trips to Mexico, did Hurricane Katrina relief work and volunteered with women’s domestic violence shelters.
|Betsy Bramon’s Jewell Journey has taken her to Amsterdam, the
Florida Everglades and to assist victims of Hurricane Katrina.
She recently spoke with Achieve about various aspects of her William Jewell experience and how it has changed her life.
Clockwise from top: (from left) Anna-Marie Norberg-Eskilson, Hannah
Smith,Betsy Bramon and Lea Hogsett during a recent service-learning trip;
Betsy receives her American Humanics certificate; Betsy navigates the
You were able to actively participate in your college experience by selecting a self-designed major. Can you describe what that entailed?
The Women’s and Gender Studies major offers a coherent, flexible program of study examining status, contributions and experiences of women related to the dynamics of gender identity for all people cross-culturally. The examination of gender spans a wide range of social relevance, highlighting diversity within a complex matrix of identity categories including race, class, sexuality, ethnicity, nationality, religion, physical ability, and so forth. Incorporating history, political science, literature, philosophy, sociology, religion, and other social elements led to an enriched societal perspective. This interdisciplinary major incorporates the humanities and arts in order to fully analyze and comprehend the complex factors involved in shaping the environment. The goal of the Gender Studies major is to foster an acute awareness of the intense relationship between gender and society, with a particular focus on social justice and power, in order to contribute to a full analysis of the human experience.
What were some of the activities you have been involved with at Jewell that have had the most impact on your personal growth?
|The William Jewell experience allows students to explore many
paths on their road to personal enrichment.For Hannah Smith,a
business entrepreneurial leadership and organizational
communication major, the Jewell journey during her recently
completed sophomore year included:
• Building a house for a family in the tropical
heat of Honduras
• Passing a cold winter night in a tee-pee listening to Ben
Eagle-feather and his wife,Mayumi,impart ancient stories
of the Lakota people
• Organizing and leading a relief trip to the hurricane ravaged
Gulf Coast in which 25 members of the Jewell
family spent their Easter break working with Habitat
• As a Pryor Leader, spending 10 days on an Outward Bound
journey through the Florida Everglades
• Traveling during her summer vacation to Kenya to explore
the potential of organizing a new micro-lending business
• Maintaining a 3.5 grade point average
Jeff Buscher, campus student minister, notes: “Hannah has
demonstrated the qualities that make Jewell students a cut
above the rest.She has shown initiative,tenacity,follow-through,
compassion, thoughtfulness and a heartfelt desire to serve that
originates from her faith.I would also add that she is creative and
enthusiastic as she serves. She is a quiet, effective leader who
serves out of humility. Her smile is infectious.”
I began to really immerse myself into the world of human rights when I became a member of our Amnesty International Chapter. It literally changed my life, giving me this window of perspective where everything fell into place. Social justice is my passion, especially concerning women. Within this group, I was able to define these issues within a human rights context that empowered me to instigate change, and to inspire and educate others while opening my own eyes to how I could contribute to international movements that were focused, organized and really making a difference. Amnesty gave me a local and international community to learn and grow with, and gave me a venue in which I learned how to lead and learned how to challenge myself.
Did you study overseas? If so, where, and what impact did that experience have on you?
I studied overseas in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. I chose it because I could learn from my studies–it had a well-established Gender Studies program–and because I could learn from the city itself. Amsterdam is well known for its unique stances on many social issues. For me the most important issue centered around prostitution, as it is perhaps one of the most complex and misunderstood women’s human rights issues prevalent in virtually every society.
I set off to discover for myself what legalized prostitution and sex trafficking (forced prostitution involving intricate international organized criminal networks) really meant in this city, how they interacted, and if either one informed the other. I began with my own research project assessing the consequences of legalization of prostitution, which led me to lead a research project with the Dutch Salvation Army. I then researched and compiled a document focused on trafficking in Eastern and Western Europe for the Salvation Army’s International Task Force on Sex Trafficking. I also had the opportunity to do field work with prostitutes in the city center, which involved weekly personal interaction with window prostitutes and street prostitutes (those addicted to hard drugs like heroin). I also had the opportunity to volunteer with an organization that worked with rehabilitating victims of sex trafficking. In Amsterdam, I had many opportunities to seek out answers to my questions, and was challenged intellectually and personally by many of my endeavors. It is an experience that has sparked a new motivation within me, given me focus for my future, and a set of experiences and skills which will assist me tremendously along the way.
How has the liberal arts experience, including your core curriculum studies, been beneficial to you, and how has it affected the way you view the world?
It has been incredibly meaningful. Without it, I would not have been able to form part of the core of my self-designed major. Jewell offers students a tremendous gift through this program. Whether or not students may initially acknowledge it, many will find that they are starkly challenged and changed, from the inside out, through this fusion of intellect, social consciousness, cross-cultural awareness, creativity and self-hood. Definitions are redrawn, self-identities are challenged, eyes are opened—this is the potential it holds, depending on how far students choose to take their academic experience. I can only hope that this program further encourages Jewell students to test their beliefs, grow their minds and become fully engaged as life-long learners.