Christy Howell is passionate about helping parents, college counselors, and employers better understand the wide-ranging benefits of liberal arts education. That might not be surprising if Howell were a professor, but as part of the innovation team at Blue Cross Blue Shield, and with an accomplished career in information technology, businesses should stand up and take notice. As a student working toward a Master of Arts in Liberal Studies at Northwestern, Howell can attest to the professional benefits she’s seen firsthand.
“Liberal studies are personally enriching, but they’ve also taught me to think in ways that are important as an employee and as a board of trustees member at Mary Baldwin University, where I did my undergrad,” said Howell. “It’s changed my perspective. I’ve been surprised at the number of times the things I’ve learned have been an imperative piece of the innovation platform.”
Now Howell is drafting her thesis on how critical liberal studies are to higher education. Ultimately, she hopes to publish peer-reviewed research examining how the liberal arts principles benefit the corporate world.
“While you don’t necessarily learn one hard skill, learning ways of thinking ties directly into corporate issues, technology issues, and interpersonal challenges. I use my education to approach innovation differently.”
Howell notes the subject matter of her thesis has been profound in its multi-faceted nature and that parents need more information about how an undergraduate or graduate degree in liberal studies can lead to rewarding professions in a variety of fields. Her own professional experience serves as a testament to her research. She’s also been wowed by the faculty she works with in the School of Professional Studies.
“I have been very impressed with the professors. Their support and encouragement, the depth of their knowledge, has been remarkable. They make the university.”