Alumni Spotlight: Gerise Herndon '85

After graduating from Drury in 1985, Gerise Herndon went on to pursue her PhD in Comparative Literature from University of Texas at Austin. She is now Director of the Gender Studies Program and teaches small classes in the humanities at Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln, Nebraska. She is grateful to be able to teach at an institution where she can provide the kind of education that helped her thrive when she was just a young Parkview graduate with a small worldview. She has led students on study abroad four times: twice to Mexico and twice to Rwanda. She just returned in July 2016 from a month-long trip in Rwanda that focused on genocide studies and post-conflict reconstruction.

A Multicultural Drury Experience

When Gerise arrived at Drury, she had little experience outside the state of Missouri. Drury gave her the opportunity to study French and experience a study abroad program in Europe that broadened her universe. She built strong professional relationships at Drury that led her to her graduate school opportunities and the Fulbright scholarship. Her education at Drury also opened the doors to writers and thinkers that shaped her professional philosophy, and allowed her to listen and utilize the advice that her humanities professors had to offer. Her advice to current students is to learn a new language and to study abroad, saying, “Even if it seems hard, scary, or even irrelevant, you’ll be astonished at the personal and professional opportunities that will open up to you after international experiences.”

Living by Drury’s Values

Gerise currently volunteers with a number of organizations including Released and Restored, doing jobs in readiness and life skills training for women in prison; Middle East/North Africa Hope, teaching English to refugees; and the YWCA Board of Directors, where their mission is to eliminate racism and empower women. Gerise hopes that “students will be willing to put themselves in uncomfortable situations, take risks, and take advantage of all opportunities offered for international engagement, meaningful service learning, and community work. Get outside yourself and try to see the perspective of someone unlike you.”

As a Drury graduate, Gerise is the perfect example of a student and educator who has achieved amazing things through her lifelong passion for the liberal arts. Check out these links to read more about her accomplishments with study abroad, the Fulbright scholarship, and community service projects!