For Alexander Gheysens, his time at Wartburg College was a journey of discovery where he got to embrace his passions, unlock his potential and realise his purpose. He had moved from Belgium to the US initially to take on an additional year of high school through the Education First (EF) programme. He lived with his host family who were mostly Wartburg alumni. After multiple trips to the campus and careful consideration, planning, and landing a scholarship, Wartburg felt like the right choice for Gheysens.
He enrolled and majored in Communication Arts. It turned out to be “a worldly experience.” He went on service trips to Colorado, New York, and West Virginia. He got to intern in Denver and Virginia.
Through courses, he got involved in the Waverly community and and on the Wartburg campus. “From working with local schools to having real-world clients, I got a variety of experiences, big and small, that went far beyond the classroom,” he shares. “The class sizes are smaller, and this allows for a strong connection with your professor too.”
Like any international student, the Belgian faced his fair share of challenges. Being away from home and handling visas and immigration matters can be tough.
To Gheysens, however, they were no more than just minor administrative tasks, thanks to the support he had every step of the way through the college’s network of professionals and peers. “Wartburg felt like home,” he enthuses. “Now I work in London. And all of this happened because I made the decision to attend this small, liberal arts college, in small-town Waverly. I’d do it all over again.”
Fellow graduate Abby Singleton agrees. “When I stepped on campus, I immediately felt welcome and cared for,” the Elementary Education major shares. “I was inspired by the campus, the student involvement, and the love and passion all professors have for their students.”
Wartburg College is a small college with big advantages. There is a full spectrum of programmes and services designed to help students find their passion. The college offers more than 60 areas of study in the liberal arts and professional areas such as business administration, education, music, and journalism and communication. Graduate students can choose from specialised programmes in Leadership and Music Therapy or opt for a Graduate Leadership Certificate.
Wartburg College is a top choice for international students interested in pursuing a STEM education. Several comprehensive programmes in biology, chemistry, biochemistry, engineering, computer science and mathematics are offered here.
Wartburg students gain the skills from their chosen fields of study, plus critical thinking skills such as ethics, effective communication, cultural competence, and collaboration. “If I would have gained a degree anywhere else studying Elementary Education, I wouldn’t have as many skills as I do now,” Singleton explains. “Those skills were taught and fostered in every environment, not just the classroom.”
At Wartburg, anything is possible. If you have an idea or goal, the resources and support network on campus will help you achieve it. “It’s an environment where I felt like I was finally living up to my potential and it felt liberating,” Gheysens shares.
That’s not all. “The sense of community is also something you carry with you after you leave campus,” he adds.
The Centre for Community Engagement (CCE) focuses on student learning and vocational development through internships, field experiences, and job shadowing. Gheysens secured his first public relations internship at the Denver Office of Strategic Partnerships, a small branch of the Denver government, through the college. This was facilitated by his mentors, Jo Dorrance and Bonita Bock.
“The experience was amazing,” he shares. “Through my internship, I made strong connections with my team, got involved in community events, and even got to meet the Mayor of Denver.”
Through Dorrance, Gheysens also landed a second internship, at an email marketing company called EAB. partners with them and uses their college marketing strategies to help share awareness about the college. Gheysens would later land a full-time job with EAB a few months before graduating.
As its graduate stories show, a Wartburg education is worth it. “My time at Wartburg prepared me for my new journey in ways I could never have expected and helped me to realise my passions in working with children,” Singleton shares.
She is now using everything she learnt at Wartburg in her graduate studies as a clinical mental health counsellor. “I don’t think I would have been able to do the number of things I was able to accomplish as an undergraduate student in four years anywhere else,” she enthuses.