North Central College - Naperville, IL

Meet a Liberal Studies Student

Jennifer Flannery

Jennifer Flannery M’07

Literary agent Jennifer Flannery has represented top authors and discovered award-winning books for children and young adults, but she says those successes seem secondary to earning her master of arts in liberal studies (MALS) degree. “I love the faculty–what they shared and the practical application. We would discuss something in class one night and I would be using it in my work the next day. From a professional point of view, my experience in the MALS program has helped me be successful in the publishing industry. It is such a diverse industry–people come from all over.”

Cheryl Gotto

Cheryl Gatto M'09

Receiving her master of arts degree in liberal studies not only helped Cheryl secure her dream job but led her to accomplish a goal. “The professors at North Central inspired me to pursue what had been my goal for many years: to teach college courses in the profession I love, travel and tourism.” Cheryl is now teaching travel and tourism courses as an adjunct faculty member at the College of DuPage while working full time as a district sales manager for Sceptre Tours, a company specializing in group tours to Ireland, Great Britain and Italy.

“The professors and fellow classmates in the liberal studies program were a surprise for me. Each professor respected the fact that I worked full time and had employment obligations in addition to family demands. The friends I made from the classroom experience have become close friends.”

Mark Olsen

Mark Olson M'04
Liberal Studies Graduate Student

Mark teaches AP geography, AP European History and core geography, and is the head varsity football coach at Willowbrook High School in Villa Park, but was looking for something more. He chose the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies (MALS) program at North Central College because it “offers the student the ability to gain a strong liberal arts curriculum but is versatile enough to fit my personal interests.” After receiving his bachelor’s degree in history and secondary education in 1996 and master’s in educational leadership in 2004, Mark wanted to explore the diverse and well-rounded subjects in the MALS program. “I love the rapport established in the classroom by the professors and the interesting content. The content fits nicely into both my social studies and coaching positions.”

Stephanie Salerno

Stephanie Salerno
Liberal Studies Graduate Student

With only a year of graduate classes accomplished, Stephanie was invited to the prestigious University of Copenhagen’s International Summer School for young researchers to develop a paper she wrote for a graduate class into her thesis work – Hell on Wheels: How Skateboarding and Punk Music Reshaped the American Dream. “It was a great opportunity I doubt I could have gotten at a larger school,” Stephanie says adding, North Central was the best program to suit her educational needs while still providing the flexibility to work. Once she receives her master of arts in liberal studies, Stephanie plans to enroll in a doctoral program. “It has been very helpful to talk to my professors and other students about Ph.D. programs. They are a wealth of knowledge and experience. The professors are engaging and supportive and their availability to talk about problems or make suggestions is unique compared to larger institutions.”