Alumni Update: Ashley Witt ’14 and Dylan Rinker ’14

Ashley Witt ’14 and Dylan Rinker ’14 made the journey from Drury Lane to the Indiana University Bloomington at the beginning of August. After graduating from Drury, Ashley was accepted into a master’s program in Russian and Eastern European history, while Dylan is pursuing a master’s and Ph.D. in Québécois literature.

Dylan arrived at Drury with no prior French education, but was determined to learn. “He was one of the most focused students I’ve had,” said Dr. Cathy Blunk, Dylan’s faculty advisor. She and Dr. Patrick Moser encouraged Dylan to take as many of Drury’s French courses as he could and study on his own. They also made sure he was able to go abroad and allowed him to take independent study and practicum courses.

“My particular interests in Québécois literature are Littérature Montréalaise (the literature of Montréal) and Québécois literature from between about 1900 and 1960. My research interests are in the Québécois roman de la terre, also between 1900 and 1960,” says Dylan.

Ashley says her graduate studies will allow her to, “overlap between modern Europe studies, Holocaust and Jewish studies, and the Slavic language program. I wish to research the ways in which the Soviet and Nazi regimes shaped and impacted the culture of Eastern Europe, and in some ways prompted the huge independence movements of the late-Soviet period. I’d like to become a part of the new push in the historical community to give places like Yugoslavia, the Baltics and Czechoslovakia back some of their historical autonomy.”

Ashley was a history and writing major at Drury, and minored in medieval and renaissance studies. “This rich humanities background allowed her to acquire the fundamental skills of intensive reading, expression and thinking about the human experience,” Dr. Shelley Wolbrink, history department chair, said.

The faculty who supported Dylan and Ashley when they were students are confident that they will do well. “The humanities provides the background in writing, critical thinking and understanding the human experience that will propel Dylan and Ashley in their graduate studies,” says Dr. Wolbrink.

As for their experiences in a new place, Ashley and Dylan have differing views. “Navigating Bloomington has proven a bit tedious given the over-abundance of one-way roads,” Ashley says. Dylan said he found the town, “small and simple to navigate. “For me, it seems like the perfect place to start building on the foundations that Drury gave me during my undergraduate years,” he says.

“Drury’s undergraduate education in the humanities prepared Ashley and Dylan to succeed at the graduate level,” said Dr. Wolbrink, “We’re so pleased that Dylan and Ashley are continuing their intellectual enterprises at Indiana University.”