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William A. Lowry ’84
When you arrived at Lake Forest College, did you know you wanted to major in history?
Throughout my life my father has served as teacher, role model and friend. Given that my dad attended a liberal arts college and majored in history, I now recognize that his path, influenced my path. Interestingly, the tradition continues, as my oldest son, a junior at Emory University, is also majoring in history.
Was there a particular piece of work that you remember as especially rewarding or challenging?
While I truly enjoyed each and every professor I encountered in the History Department at Lake Forest College, Michael Ebner and Steve Rosswurm proved especially influential but for very different reasons. Professor Ebner’s focus on American History jibed with my historical passion. His teaching style proved clear, concise and precise. His lectures proved mesmerizing and his knowledge vast. In the 34 years since I first met Professor Ebner, I have tried to both speak and write with clarity and precision. I truly have come to understand “less is more.” Michael Ebner cultivated my mind.
Equally influential was Professor Rosswurm who touched my spirit outside of the classroom, while mentoring me as my advisor during my junior year. During one especially impactful session of one on one sharing, Steve demonstrated true caring by noting that I was a wonderful young man whose gifts were often masked by disingenuity. Of course, Steve used different terminology… What a lesson! Steve Rosswurm cultivated my person.
I did not write a senior theses. However, given the hindsight of experiences since 1984, I would absolutely write a senior thesis if now enrolled at Lake Forest College. I would also study abroad if at all possible as, despite my love for American History, there is so much to learn throughout the world from a historical perspective.
How did your history major prepare you for advanced studies?
During my very first American History class with Professor Ebner in 1980, he looked at each of us in the classroom and then said, “This semester, you will write, write and write some more.” With those words I soon began acquiring the skill of communicating my thoughts in writing. Equally important, I took an oral history course at Lake Forest College senior year, which honed my communicative skills by spoken word.
These are two experiences that truly enhanced my verbal communication skills–skills which not only served me in law school, but have served me in the practice of law for over twenty-six years. In addition to fostering my communication skills in the traditional sense, the communal nature of Lake Forest College also taught me that communication is as much about “listening” as it is about “speaking.”
Many of our students worry that traditional liberal arts majors (particularly in the humanities) will not translate to job skills. Share your advice.
A liberal arts education spurs “thinking.” In a community such as Lake Forest College one cannot hide. Close interaction between the students and teachers of Lake Forest College inside of the classroom spurs education far beyond what one derives from a textbook, while interaction outside of the classroom, fosters a learning steeped in experiences with many diverse Foresters. Such experiences are vital for growth, as I have always learned the most from people who are different than me. If I learn that way, I trust that others learn that way as well… As a result of this combined “education” and “learning” at the College, true knowledge is gained. It is because of my liberal arts education that today, I am as much entrepreneur, as I am attorney.
How do the skills and knowledge you acquired in your history major inform your day-to-day work?
Given my background in and love for history, I have evolved into a “story teller”. This truth is manifested as I often instruct others by sharing both my educational and empirical lessons through story.
When hiring at Nyhan, Bambrick, Kinzie & Lowry, I look for traits in an individual which are often typified by liberal arts students. Such candidates are usually confident risk takers, analytical thinkers, creative problem solvers and generally well rounded people, who walk the earth with a can-do attitude.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
I have truly relished my 30 plus year affiliation with Lake Forest College, as a proud alum of the College’s History Department. While I will never be able to give the College or the Department all that I have gained, I will continue to strive to give something back through my service as a College Trustee, as well as other forms of volunteerism.