WEBSTER COUNTY, KY (11/14/12) - Today it seems that we hear of people’s failures more often than we hear of their successes. There are entire television networks devoted to discussing the affairs, divorces and arrests of celebrities, when what we should really be talking about is people who succeeded despite apparent difficulty.
In Webster County many people would be surprised by some of the success stories that they never know about. One of those stories would be that of Providence native Victoria Crowell Wheeler.
Victoria, the daughter of Jim and Beverly Crowell of Providence, is currently pursuing a PhD at the University of Indiana.
“My specific field of study for my PhD is Modern European history (although I generally focus on Weimar and Nazi Germany), with a thematic minor in Gender & Sexuality and an outside minor in Germanic Studies,” Wheeler said.
When contacted about this article, Wheeler was very humble about her accomplishments.
“I was very surprised to receive your call, largely because I certainly don’t feel like I’ve (had) nearly the same level of achievement as a practicing medical doctor or working in the NFL!” she said. “I’m still working towards my PhD.”
To truly understand Wheeler’s accomplishments, it's important to look at her past. She graduated in the next to last class from Providence High School in 2006. Although during the next year the Providence Independent School system was investigated by the KDE, Wheeler had nothing but good things to say about her experience there.
“I went to both Broadway Elementary and then to Providence High School,” Wheeler said. “I cannot possibly explain enough how helpful the teachers and staff were at both schools. Many took the time to help me individually both inside and outside of class, and the small school atmosphere afforded me a lot of opportunities with my coursework - such as learning German via distance-learning courses and going to Madisonville Community College for classes my senior year - that I would not have had otherwise.”
After high school Wheeler attended Centre College, a liberal-arts school in Danville, Kentucky.
“Centre is a small college of about 1200 students, so again, you receive a lot of personal attention from professors,” she explained. “I often still have dinner with one of my advisors when I go back to Danville to visit, and this same professor attended my wedding, for an example of how tight-knit the community is.”
She also explains that Centre works hard to provide students with unique educational experiences. In 2008 she spent a semester in Strasbourg, France as part of the Centre-in-Europe program.
Wheeler graduated from Center in 2010 with majors in History and German and a minor in Gender Studies. That summer she married her husband, Ryan Wheeler, in a service at the Providence First Christian Church.
In the fall of that year she began her MA/PhD studies at the University of Indiana.
“I am currently in my last semester of coursework, then I will take my exams next semester,” Wheeler said. “After my exams, I will have to pass a dissertation proposal defense, then I will be “ABD” or “All But Dissertation.” I will then begin writing the dissertation and, once that is accepted, I will have earned my PhD in history.”
Wheeler spent six weeks last summer doing archival research in Germany, and she is currently applying for grants to continue researching her dissertation research.
“My archive work was in the State Archive in Lichterfelde, Berlin and the archive of the Diakonie, the major Protestant social welfare organization in Germany,” Crowell explained. “I was mostly looking for tidbits on fatherhood during the Nazi period, which is what my dissertation is on.”
Once she has earned her PhD, Wheeler plans to become a Professor of History, hopefully at a small Liberal Arts College similar to Centre.
J-E News Editor
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