STORY BY MICHAEL LOPEZ
Traditionally, college students graduate and move away from their university to pursue a career. However, at Drake University a few former students have returned to continue their stories as professors.
Assistant professor of journalism Jill Van Wyke graduated from Drake University in 1985 with a degree in news-editorial journalism. Van Wyke started working at The Des Moines Register while still in college and stayed for 14 years. In 1996 she received her masters degree in education from Drake. She then transitioned from student to employee in 1997. It was not the path she always saw for herself.
“I started part time when my kids were little and then the job sort of evolved into a full time position teaching,” Van Wyke said. “It was good mix for me professionally and personally. Never did I dream that I’d still be in Des Moines 30-some years later.”
Teaching assistant Alyssa Frakes graduated from Drake University in 2011 with a B.A. in psychology, a minor in sociology and a concentration in behavioral analysis and developmental disabilities.
In the spring of 2012, Frakes started graduate school at Drake. She graduated in 2014 with masters in mental health and school counseling. This fall Frakes will start her course to earn a doctorate educational leadership also through Drake. Throughout this time she also worked at the University.
“[Working at Drake] has been really great because I’ve been in the position my students are currently in,” Frakes said. “I was in their shoes not that long ago. I also get to work with the faculty I had as a student. Working with them as a student and now as a faculty member has been great.”
Frakes was also a Resident Assistant during her time as a student at Drake. When she became a teaching assistant, she had some of her residents as students in her psych lab class. The dual role was not easy.
“Probably the biggest struggle was being an RA and having dual relationships,” Frakes said. “I had students as an RA that were then my students as a lab instructor. Having to switch up those boundaries was kind of difficult at first but now all my RA students were all gone so it’s not an issue anymore.”
Assistant Professor of Public Relations Jennifer Glover Konfrst graduated in 1996 with a degree in public relations, and continued on to get her Masters in Public Administration in 1998.
Konfrst credits her years of experience in the public relations field to her success.
“It was important for me to go away and have a career in the industry that I love,” Konfrst said. “That way I was able to combine what I learned at Drake with what I learned in the field. I’m adding my own experience to teaching.”
Konfrst, Van Wyke and Frakes all fall in a tradition of many professors who come back to Drake and teach. Konfrst thinks that says a lot.
“What’s fun for me about that is that it shows that a Drake education is valued here,” Konfrst said. “We really walk the walk. Having the Drake perspective, as well as the perspectives of other graduates, I think provides for a great undergraduate experience.”