Charles Neiss

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Current City:
Lawrence, Kansas
English '08
Self Engineering Leadership Fellows (SELF) Program Coordinator at the University of Kansas School of Engineering

How has your liberal arts education helped you?

What is your favorite Drury memory?

What advice would you give a new Drury student?

Alumni Spotlight: Meet Charles Neiss

"Drury was a great time for me. I had so much fun in my years there."

The career path that 2008 graduate Charles Neiss has taken since earning his degree in English from Drury may confuse some people. After all, exactly how does a student of English literature and political science go on to become a leadership program coordinator at a professional engineering school?

According to Charles, his Drury education inspired him to develop not only a deep love of learning, but also become passionate about inspiring other students in higher learning.

"My experience at Drury was so great that it inspired me to want to continue to work at an institution of higher education," Charles says. "That propelled me to seek a master's degree in higher education administration, which I did at the University of Missouri."

Today, Charles is the Self Engineering Leadership Fellows (SELF) Program Coordinator at the University of Kansas School of Engineering. But still, he doesn't let his memories of Drury get too far away. In fact, memories of residence hall experiences in Drury's Living Learning Communities, global exploration through Drury's Study Abroad program, and applied learning through the Drury Enactus team all frequent his recollections.

Living and Learning at Drury

As a freshman, the Rolla, Missouri native lived in one of Sunderland Hall's Living Learning Communities, where classes of CORE 101 students live and study in the same residential area. This experience, Charles says, allowed him to make friends with a diverse group of students who would continue to remain his friends throughout college and beyond.

"I got to meet people from larger high schools, from different parts of the country, different majors, and that was a lot of fun for me to get to see a whole new side of things," he says. "It challenged my thinking about different things. There were definitely different political views and ethical views that we talked about as part of our classes in the Living Learning Community. So that was a great part of my first year at Drury."

Getting Involved, Getting Challenged

Throughout his college career at Drury, Charles sought out various ways to get involved on campus, and, in many cases, did so in circles far outside his comfort zone and academic department. Some of his extracurricular experiences included serving on Student Government Association, writing for The Mirror, getting involved with Drury Ambassadors, and serving on the Drury Enactus team.

"I met some of my closest friends on that team," Charles says. "I spent two and a half years on it and just got experience like I never could have imagined. That was something totally outside of the box for me. As an English major, I was really the only person on the team that was from that department."

Charles said his writing skills were greatly utilized on the Enactus team, although he was able to gain experience in other areas like business, marketing, and ethics - areas he likely would not have experienced without forcing himself out of his comfort zone to learn new skills.

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