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Celebrating the Class of 2015: Christina Peterson

A returning student with an open mind finds her passion lies in sociology

Monday May 11, 2015

Christina Peterson of Chesterton graduates this May with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology and a minor in Women’s and Gender Studies.

Educated at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Peterson spent the majority of her career as a nurse, working primarily in neonatal intensive care. Because the job could be emotionally trying at times, Peterson had decided she no longer wanted to work in the field. However, she had no idea what she wanted to for the next phase of her life either.

As the mom of a 13- and a 6-year-old, Peterson’s options were limited, as they are for most returning students.

“It made sense to come to the regional college, and explore,” she said.

Peterson started taking some general classes, “to see if something would ‘click.’” Something did, and she decided to pursue sociology. She found the material so comfortable, in fact, that she plowed through the sociology classes first, and finished the other degree requirements last. Along the way, she presented papers at many weekend conferences, an opportunity she found she could successfully juggle while also raising her children.

Her status as an adult student proved to be advantageous.

“I found I had a stronger voice in my papers and in discussions in class because I am a returning student,” Peterson said. “I have the perspective of an older student, a mom. I have a wider field of view.”

Peterson intends to go on to graduate school and pursue a master’s degree in sociology and eventually, a doctorate. She sees herself teaching at a university one day. Ultimately, she wants to continue doing meaningful research and writing on topics of importance in sociology and women’s and gender studies – making a difference through educating others.

Peterson came back for the sake of education and to explore. She is leaving with an entirely new outlook and career path, thanks in large part to the extra educational opportunities she took advantage of along the way.

“I can definitely say I am no longer intimidated to speak in front of a group of people I don’t know,” she said.

Among those opportunities were serving as the president of the Connectionz Club, which strives to promote diversity and awareness of issues of importance for the LGBT+ community and issues of equality. She served as the club’s president this past year. She is also a member of the National Society for Leadership and Success (NSLS), and has received many honors for outstanding work from the College of Arts and Sciences. She was recently inducted into an honor society for women’s and gender studies.

Asked what she appreciated most about her IU Northwest education, Peterson talked about the caliber of the professors, combined with their accessibility and willingness to engage in discussions outside of the classroom.

“What I thought was definitely unique,” Peterson said, “is to see, not necessarily that my professors have published work … but that they have renowned published work and in topics that are new and current.”

Her advice to students, especially returning students, is to approach college with an open mind. She explains that a lot of people return to school with a particular degree in mind because that is what they think will be in demand and profitable.

“The idea is to find something you like and that you can relate to and that you can see yourself doing.”

About the Class of 2015: Indiana University Northwest will confer 790 degrees at the 49th Annual Commencement ceremonies on May 14, 2015. The Class of 2015 will collectively receive 75 associate’s degrees, 609 bachelor’s degrees and 106 master’s degrees. Seventy-three percent of this year’s graduating class are women; nearly 40 percent are underrepresented students.

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