The Bachelor of Liberal Studies (BLS) degree is an Interdisciplinary program that provides both significant breadth across a variety of fields, meaningful depth in a single field, and the interconnections and integration among fields that allow a fuller comprehension of the modern world. It is intended for those students who prefer a broad liberal arts and sciences degree, rather than a Bachelor of Arts or Bachelor of Science degree in a single discipline. This may include students with particularly wide or still uncertain personal or career interests, or those who intend to become elementary education teachers, for whom the program has been designed specifically to incorporate the relevant State of Alaska standards and those of the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). Students wishing a career as elementary teachers should plan on pursuing the post-baccalaureate program in elementary teacher preparation following graduation with a BLS.
Other students selecting the BLS may, with proper advising, wish to pursue professional graduate education in Law or other fields. While with the proper Discipline Area Concentration a BLS graduate may pursue graduate study in a particular discipline area, students who plan to attend graduate school in a specific area are generally advised to take a disciplinary major. Many of the courses comprising the BLS are also included as the arts and sciences content component of the Bachelor of Arts in Elementary Education, offered by the College of Education for those students desiring an undergraduate route to certification as an elementary teacher.
I AM UAA: Mallory Wetherington '12
Bachelor of Liberal Studies, Concentration Areas: Justice and Sociology Hometown: Centennial, CO
Turns out that some not-so-good things happen for a reason, which is the case for UAA senior Mallory Wetherington. This Centennial, Colorado, native—and 13-year gymnastics veteran—had her sight on coming north to become a gymnast for the Seawolves. But a devastating injury during her senior year of high school took her out of the running to become a UAA student-athlete.
Her injury didn't stop her from pursuing her college of choice, though. She came to UAA anyway, and dove headfirst into campus life.
Mallory explains that she took her final two years of high school coursework online to focus on her gymnastics, so she didn't have many opportunities to get involved outside of her sport. "I always wanted to," she says.
UAA gave her that chance. Mallory moved into the dorms, but admitted that she was shy at first because she didn't know anybody. Then came a knock on her door. Her resident advisor (RA) welcomed her with open arms and started introducing her to people and telling her about different activities happening around campus. "He gave me the opportunity to get involved and that inspired me to do the same for other students."
Mallory became a peer mentor right off the bat, and signed up to be an RA the next year—a position she held for three years. She became coordinator for the 2010 and 2011 Welcome Week event, aimed at welcoming new and returning students living on campus.
It was through her involvement with Welcome Week that she was introduced to UAA's Student Life and Leadership crew—an energetic bunch that brings an impressive roster of entertainment options to the Anchorage community, ranging from intellectual lectures, nationally known comedians and popular indie rock bands.
In the eyes of her peers, Mallory was the perfect choice to lead the Campus Programming Board because of her stellar organization skills and outgoing personality. "I was at a board meeting one day with my organizer out, taking notes, and my peers pointed at me and said, ‘I pick her,'" she says with a grin.
Her fellow students made a good choice in Mallory. She's served as the board's chair for two years and has helped to double the size of the group to about 15 students.
The Campus Programming Board is charged with coordinating two major campus events each year: Winterfest (spring) and Homecoming (fall). "We bring in people from departments all over campus to create something fun for students and the campus community," Mallory says. "These events bring a lot of school spirit to campus."
She's proud of the work she and her colleagues have done to grow Homecoming over the past two years. "It's fun to be a part of," Mallory says. "People really look forward to it now."
Mallory—who's lived on campus for five years—says she goes to school for the social interaction and the rich and diverse involvement opportunities. "There are so many opportunities at UAA," she says. "My classes are just a part of my college experience. I would not make it through classes if I were not involved. The more involved and busy I am, the more focused and motivated I am."
For all of her efforts, Mallory was nominated to participate in a LeaderShape Summer Institute last summer. She was one of only four UAA students selected to attend this rigorous weeklong leadership conference held at the University of California Davis. Mallory says that LeaderShape is a worldwide program and that she had the pleasure of meeting people from not only across the U.S., but also the Middle East and Argentina, among other exotic places. "The program helps students become better leaders," she says. "It makes you think about who you are, what you want to become and how to get there."
Mallory recently made the transition to UAA's Office of Enrollment Management, where she works as a student recruiter, giving campus tours, answering students' questions and making sure they have the tools needed to be successful.
"I really like it," she says. "Everybody I work with is so welcoming and high energy." She likes it so much that she hopes to stay in Alaska and keep working with the university after she accepts her diploma this spring.
"I very much like this university and I'm happy I chose UAA," Mallory says. "It sounds weird to say, but I'm happy that injury happened to me because I wouldn't have had the same experiences as a student-athlete; I wouldn't have had the time to get involved."
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