North Aurora, Illinois
International Journalism Major
Knox College senior Andrea Houlihan describes herself as "a firm believer
in constant personal development and improvement." A quick review of some
of her college accomplishments proves she's not kidding.
A native of North Aurora, Illinois, with a self-designed major in international journalism, Houlihan has been researching the coffee industry in Honduras for her senior capstone project. To find out first-hand about the business, she traveled to the Central American country for four weeks during Knox College's December break. Upon returning to campus, she began transforming her interviews into a blog, A Coffee Life: Honduras, and she plans to write a longer journalistic piece.
Houlihan also studied abroad for four months in Botswana through an Associated Colleges of the Midwest (ACM) program. The ACM is a consortium of academically excellent, independent liberal arts colleges, including Knox.
As a first-year student, she was selected for the prestigious Kemper Scholars Program, which provides scholarships, leadership and business experiences, and summer internships. Through that program, she worked as an intern for WTTW, a public television station in Chicago, and later for commercial television station WQAD in the Quad Cities, where she still works part time as a video editor.
"These experiences have shaped the way I matured and grew throughout my four years at Knox. They taught me to be more aware of my place in a community, in a business, and in the world," she said. "Knox College, and the amazing opportunities I have had through it, forced me to be not just a good student or potential employee, but a good person who is observant and understanding."
"Everything I have done at or through Knox has just been one growing experience after another," she added. "I've been able to learn so much about the world outside of my little bubble and at the same time learn so much more about myself. The experience of going abroad was life-changing in and of itself, but the most growth occurred when I came back and applied everything I had learned about the world to my daily interactions with other people."
Houlihan has been interested in a journalism career since high school, but it wasn't until she arrived at Knox that she began concentrating on international journalism.
"As I took classes, I realized that I really enjoyed the international relations classes, the anthropology and sociology classes, along with my journalism experiences," she said. "I really wanted to have a better, clearer focus on international journalism, so I started putting together this (self-designed) major around the middle to end of my first year."
Houlihan chose to attend Knox -- a school recommended by one of her favorite high school teachers -- because she wanted a liberal arts education. "I had come up with the idea that journalism skills aren't really important if you don't know anything about what you're writing about," she said.
As a Knox student, she said, she has benefited from faculty members' personal interest in helping students to succeed. "Time and time again, I've had ideas that are pretty out there -- like my self-designed major and senior capstone project in Honduras -- but professors at Knox have a unique ‘how can we make this happen' attitude that really lends itself to academic development."
"Freedom to flourish definitely applies to me," Houlihan added. "At Knox I was allowed to say, ‘None of these areas of study really fit me, so I'm just going to make my own.' I had consistent support in doing this. I was challenged to make my proposed major the best it could be. If that isn't freedom to flourish, I don't know what is."