Drake Professors

I came to college expecting to see a lot more old men with elbow patches and bow ties. In my mind, that’s what professors looked like. As the representatives of academia, I figured professors must feature a full head of wispy grey hair, become know for their strictness, and present lectures to the class every day. In fact, if the film Flubber taught me anything (and it taught me a lot), it was that I could expect to learn from brilliant, absent-minded professionals in the world of higher education. And honestly, I was prepared to encounter some figures a lot less fun than Robin Williams.

The great scientific/comedic hero, Robin Williams. Image via Flickr

The great scientific/comedic hero, Robin Williams. Image via Flickr

Turns out, at Drake at least, there’s rarely a bow tie in sight (unless as a trendy fashion statement). Despite my expectations, many of my professors are (gasp!) female and many (double gasp!) aren’t very old at all. Some of the Drake professors I’ve encountered might be categorized as the brilliant, absent-minded intellectual type, but for the most part, the people teaching in the university are professionals themselves. Because they’ve worked in the field they’re teaching, they give us practical knowledge, not just esoteric musings.

As for the strictness, not so much at Drake. My professors expect a lot out of their students and push them to succeed, but they’re also pretty relatable, understanding humans. And in my three years at Drake, I’ve had a grand total of two lecture-based classes. The rest are collaborative learning processes built on discussion.

But I’m also not saying that I’ve loved every single professor I’ve ever had at Drake. And honestly, it reflects well on the university that I haven’t. There’s a lot of different types of educators here teaching in a lot of different types of ways. Drake recognizes that I learn from certain methods and personalities really well whereas other students may not. With this philosophy, the university serves as a microcosm of the changing face of academia. It’s no longer just old white men, lecturing, but a lot of really interesting, varied people using diverse methods to help students learn. Because of this, I’m getting so many different types of learning experiences, many of which far exceed the confines of a lecture hall or textbook.

So, yes, what I’m telling you is that Drake University is not very much like Flubber. But who knows? Maybe there is some frizzy haired, bow tie wearing, absent-minded professor experimenting with green goop in the depths of Harvey Ingham Hall. Honestly, with the huge variety of educators here, it wouldn’t surprise me.

First Years

We don’t have freshmen at Drake.  I mean, we do; they’re just called first year students.  At first, I thought this was kind of a silly semantic distinction. If it’s your first year, you’re a freshman, if you’re a freshman, it’s your first year. In fact, it almost sounded a little pretentious to use the term “first year” like we were in law school or just starting off at Hogwarts. And people I talked to definitely looked at me skeptically when I told them I was a first year. So although I used the term like the rest of the University, I never really embraced it.

I felt this way for most of my own first year, and then maybe forgot about it all in my sophomore year. (Spoiler alert: there’s a twist coming!) But in my junior year, I’ve begun to understand the real importance of the first year terminology. You see, it’s a matter of respect. While the label “freshmen” has some negative connotations, “first year” is a more accurate and more inclusive word for the incoming Drake class. And the philosophy at Drake is that our first year students deserve our respect. This isn’t a John Hughes movie and our new students aren’t demeaned and pushed into trashcans. They’re Bulldogs, and thus a really important part of our Drake community, no matter how long they’ve been here.

But even more so, the first years I’ve met are really worthy of respect. In fact, they’re pretty impressive. In my extra curriculars and classes, and just around campus, I’ve met a bunch of smart, talented, and all around lovely first year students. And not a freshman in sight…

The Most Interesting College in the World

The Huffington Post recently published a piece about the most interesting places to go to college. They listed a wide variety of schools including USC, Brown, Vassar, Harvard, and of course, Drake University. None of us around campus were surprised that Drake was considered interesting. After all, we all chose to go here for a reason. Nonetheless, it was exciting to see our school recognized in such a big way, among such other prestigious universities. But while the Huff Po blurb mentioned some really great things about Drake, it failed to truly capture why this place is so intriguing. Naturally, I can do what millionaire mogul Arianna Huffington cannot: tell you why Drake really is one of the most interesting places to go to college

Those Drake Students

While I’m sure other schools have cool kids too, the students at Drake are a special breed of awesome. (In retrospect, I may be a little biased on this account). But really, one of the most meaningful parts of the Drake experience is getting to meet other students who share your same passion for learning. The place is populated with smart, motivated, and passionate people, and they are the ones who truly make college worthwhile.

My first year residence hall floor got together to paint our Relays Street Painting square. Clearly, we had no idea of the crazy paint fight carnage to come.

My first year residence hall floor got together to paint our Relays Street Painting square. Clearly, we had no idea of the crazy paint fight carnage to come.

The Relays Experience

Huff Po did mention our famous Drake Relays, but by no means did they do the festivities justice. I mean, how many chances do you get to see world-class Olympians race on your campus…or even pole vault in your mall? But the athletics is just the beginning. All of Drake comes together over these couple weeks in April in a massive burst of school spirit, fun, and campus bonding. The whole deal is capped off by SAB’s famous street painting/paint fight ritual…which takes place right outside the campus library.

Fields of Opportunities

I’ve been lucky enough to take advantage of Drake’s connections in the magazine world, but there’s a lot more than just journalism and politics here. Almost every student I know works at least one job or internship in everything from pharmacy to PR to education. So for Drake students, our college education really is just the start.

Bulldog Mania

We like Bulldogs. A lot. I’m not saying we’re the only school who loves our mascot, but Bulldog pride is a way of life around here. We even host a Beautiful Bulldog Pageant to celebrate some of the world’s cutest canines. But the most important Drake Bulldog always will be our live mascot, Porterhouse, who recently passed away. He was always present at campus events, reminding of why it’s so great to be a Bulldog.

Des Moines, Des Moines

As the article mentions, Des Moines has a lot going for it, both in terms of careers and finances. But what I see on a day-to-day basis is just how cool this place really is. Seriously, sometimes it’s way too cool for me. From the fantastic 80/35 music festival to art galleries, music venues, and shopping, there’s no limit to the amount of hip activities in this town (and hip, young professionals to do them).

But ultimately I think what really makes Drake so interesting can’t really be boxed into any of these categories. It’s the feeling of knowing that every day invites new experiences, that’s there’s always more to discover at Drake and in Des Moines. In short, the real reason Drake is so interesting is because…well, it’s Drake.

The Meredith Life

Once upon a time, I didn’t even know the difference between a landscape designer and a landscape architect. Oh, how naïve I was. And while I’m still by no means a Master Gardener (which is a real title, by the way), I have come pretty far in my gardening knowledge over the past few months.

You see, this year, I’ve been granted the stellar opportunity through Drake to work as an apprentice with the Meredith Corporation Garden Group. And although being an “apprentice” sounds like I’m working for a blacksmith or Donald Trump, what it really means is that while still attending Drake University, I get a chance to work part-time, learn about the world of magazines, and contribute to various gardening publications.

Me at my composting photo shoot, alongside Garden Group art director, Nick Crow. See, I even have gardening gloves and shovel!

Me at my composting photo shoot, alongside Garden Group art director, Nick Crow. See, I even have gardening gloves and shovel!

Although I just started in September, I’ve already had some amazing experiences here. Not only do I get to work with a really great, fun, and kind group of people, but I also get to have a few adventures along the way. In fact, one perk of the job is that I even got to chat it up with a celebrity earlier this year.  His name is Bill Christopher and he played Father Mulcahy on MASH. Now Bill and his wife Barbara have a home in Pasadena with an incredible corner lot garden. I got to speak with Bill and Barbara about their garden and write a story about it for the upcoming issue of Gardens Ideas magazine. It was a pretty great experience, and I only got a little bit star struck.

In another pretty crazy twist of events, this apprenticeship also marks my modeling debut. Garden Ideas includes a story about how to build your own backyard compost bin…and guess who stood in as the model? It turns out that showing off a homemade compost bin on a frosty Des Moines morning was not the kind of glamorous Spanish Rivera photo shoots Tyra Banks gets to do, but it was still an absolute blast.

But it’s not all glamorous celebrity chats and photo shoots around the office. I’m picking up some real knowledge about writing, editing, shooting, and producing magazines. Honestly, I’m glad it’s gone so well so far because Drake’s relationship with Meredith was one of the reasons I decided to attend school here. Whereas other students clamor to find big magazine jobs, I live 5 minutes away from one of the largest magazine companies in the nation and get to spend 3 days a week there learning, growing, and hopefully contributing to the industry I’m studying. So, thanks, Drake, I guess is what I’m trying to say.


There were a lot of activities going on this week. And that’s a great thing that leads to some great campus engagement. But it also leads to me becoming exhausted, and holing up in my apartment on a Thursday night to eat peanut butter and watch Bob Costas talk snowboarding. #Sochi2014

It's a beach blast! The whole thing was very Frankie and Annette…if they wore colored Ray Bans.

It’s a beach blast! The whole thing was very Frankie and Annette…if they wore colored Ray Bans.

But to focus up a little, one of the most important parts of my life at Drake is my work with SAB or the Student Activities Board. We’re the main programming board on campus and plan events all year including everything from Relays Street Painting to bands, comedians, speakers, and homecoming. It’s been a really rewarding experience, and moreover a really fun one serving on SAB. This year, I’m the Marketing Executive Officer, so yeah, I’m a pretty big deal around here.

This week, we hosted slushies and a halftime limbo game at Beach Night at the Men’s Basketball Game. Although the Bulldogs lost, it was a victory for campus fun, and a really cool way to engage with students and the athletics community. We also had more SAB time the following day at the Spring Involvement Fair. This is an event when all the campus organizations get together and have a chance to tell students about what they do and recruit new members. The whole thing made me pretty excited for the future of SAB and for the future of Drake campus activities.

Groundhog Day

So it’s Groundhog Day. I mean, it’s also Super Bowl Sunday, and the day of the Puppy Bowl, and I’m sure a cornucopia of other occasions, but let’s talk about the groundhogs for a minute.

I’m a big fan of holidays, but Groundhog Day in particular has a special place in my heart due to one man: Bill Murray. If you haven’t seen the 1993 comedy classic Groundhog Day, you should get on that. It’ll teach you everything you need to know about groundhogs, meteorologists, Andie MacDowell, alarm clocks, and life. The premise of the film is that Bill is a jerky meteorologist doomed to repeat the events of his Groundhog Day over and over. It’s one of the most 90s movies that have ever happened and it really is the greatest.

Through repeating the same events again and again, we (Bill most of all) learn a valuable lesson about life and how we should treat others. But mostly, we get to see Bill repeat the same hilarious shenanigans over and over to his frustration and our comedic relief.

Now comes the part where I make a heavy-handed comparison to my life at Drake. You see, I can truly say that every day of my Drake experience is completely different. Unlike Bill Murray, I’ve never had the same day twice in my three years at Drake. It’s a pretty great feeling to know that something new always awaits me every day. New classes, new learning, new meetings, new people, and new experiences populate my days. And while this means I don’t get to hang out with the flawless Andie on repeat, it’s a relief to know that I’ll never live the same day twice at Drake. Instead, each day brings something completely different.