When Ruth Deem (B.A. ’22) first considered attending Cornerstone, she was captivated by three components: the honors program, the history program and the campus community. Now a senior, Ruth has appreciation for her time on campus. Her education has prepared her for her future career and to inspire those she engages with about history.

Ruth’s CIHI Experience

One of Ruth’s favorite things about Cornerstone has been participating in the Creativity & Innovation Honors Institute (CIHI).  In case you’re not familiar with CIHI, here’s the scoop. CIHI is the university’s honors program which partners with students’ vocation of choice by uniquely honing their problem-solving skills and teaching from an interdisciplinary perspective to develop skills that are in high demand in today’s job market. Another cool perk is that through CIHI you can graduate with a degree in your vocation—whether it’s business, marketing, teaching or something else—plus a second degree in creativity and innovation.

When Ruth began applying to colleges her senior year of high school, Cornerstone was the only school she found that had a program like CIHI. After applying to the honors program, Ruth was even more excited when she received her acceptance package in the mail, complete with her own kit of Play-Doh.

As Ruth completed course work for her major, she was delighted by how well her education in the honors program complemented her history program. CIHI created a learning environment that fostered her creativity and innovation, skills that Ruth transferred to her history studies.

A Journey Through History

For some people, history is just “that one class they have to take.” For Ruth, history is much more than that.

“Studying history is cool because you learn cool facts to flex on your friends,” joked Ruth. “But seriously, I’m interested in history because it is important in understanding the context of events and symbols that exist today.”

In the Humanities Division, Ruth has felt incredibly supported throughout her journey of deciding how to use history in her future career. While Ruth originally came to Cornerstone to study ancient history, under the mentorship of various faculty she realized that she also enjoys studying U.S. history. More specifically, Ruth found a kinship with public history. Public history is history outside of academia that the public engages with, such as museums, documentaries and history TV networks.

“As a history major, I am perfectly willing to say that history can be pretty boring,” said Ruth. “I realized that I wanted to share my appreciation of history with others, so they can enjoy it too.”

Developing New Perspectives

This was where CIHI and history came together for Ruth. As Ruth realized her passion for using different methods of public history to make it more widely accessible, she came across a way to create a fun and engaging experience with history to share with the world. Ruth found that living history was the perfect medium for her voice and combined the skills she learned in CIHI with her historical knowledge. Living history is usually acted out and includes historical reenactments and role plays, both of which Ruth has had the opportunity to do.

“CIHI retaught me how to think and taught me to see the world in a different perspective. It helped show me what career track I want to go into and gave me skills I need to do well in my field. I genuinely think [CIHI] gives me an advantage over my peers in [the history field] who do not have these same techniques.”

Putting Theory Into Practice

Throughout her studies, Ruth has been able to find several relevant work opportunities, including an internship in her first love of ancient history and multiple jobs at historical attractions that gave her hands-on experience in reenacting and tourist interaction.

Over the past two summers, Ruth has worked at Fort Mackinac on Mackinac Island doing historical interpretations for tourists to observe what life might have been like in the fort during the 1800s. While this whetted Ruth’s appetite for living history, it was her time at Conner Prairie in Indiana that assured Ruth of her commitment to living history as a vocation.

At Conner Prairie, Ruth was given a character she could embody, as well as valuable training in chrono-accurate textiling. This textiling ranged from spinning and dyeing yarn to weaving with various looms. Because Conner Prairie is larger than Fort Mackinac, Ruth also got to work with and meet a larger and more diverse group of people.

Looking To Her Future

As Ruth looks toward graduation in the spring, she is excited to enter her field and feels well prepared for life after college. In her upcoming final semester at Cornerstone, Ruth plans to intern at the Hesse Memorial Archaeological Laboratory through the Grand Rapids Theological Seminary (GRTS). There, Ruth will be able to observe and analyze bones from an archaeological dig site in Tel Dan Israel. In preparation for this internship, faculty at Cornerstone arranged for Ruth to take classes at GRTS that would prepare her to record her findings.

If, like Ruth, you are specifically interested in an innovative approach to your undergraduate education, check out our CIHI information page to fill out an application.

If you are interested in taking your next step in your academic journey, browse our list of majors to see what Cornerstone offers that might be your perfect fit!