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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Doyle to graduate summa cum laude

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Jessica Doyle came to USI to achieve a life-long goal.

"I always knew I wanted to go on to graduate school," said the senior history major. "I wanted to do my absolute best here at USI to put myself in the best position to achieve that."

Now graduating summa cum laude with a perfect 4.0 grade point average, Doyle will begin to realize that goal at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill next fall. She will begin a post-baccalaureate program that will focus on her language studies of Greek and Latin.

The Bridgeport, Illinois, native will leave USI with a Bachelor of Arts degree in history with a classical studies minor. She plans to pursue a master's degree, and being able to read and comprehend several languages is a requirement. Doyle is in her third year of Latin, second in German, and first in French. "I didn't need German or French for my core curriculum," she said. "But I know I'll have to learn it eventually, so I decided to get a head start."

Throughout her college career, Doyle never lost sight of her objectives. "I think focus and determination are very important. I think you have to want to succeed, and you have to know what you want to do," she said. "In college, you can choose to focus on academics or you can choose to focus on extracurricular activities and have fun. I'm not saying I didn't have fun in college because I did, but you have to prioritize and know what you want to accomplish."

That focus and determination helped Doyle excel in and out of the classroom. She recently was named the USI Board of Trustees Distinguished Merit Award winner, an award that recognizes outstanding achievement in the student's major and in the liberal arts and sciences.

Doyle has presented papers as president of Phi Alpha Theta (history honor society), and she was chosen as a student presenter representing the USI history department at the Indiana Classical Conference.

In addition to Phi Alpha Theta, Doyle is also the vice president of the USI History Club, and served as a student ambassador for two years. "I enjoyed that," said Doyle. "I met a lot of new people and got the chance to learn more about USI."

To further her education and dive deeper into her chosen field, she studied abroad in Greece last summer, learning the history of ancient Greek art and architecture.

The semester overseas was a great experience for Doyle, who says her ultimate career goal is to be a professor of ancient history and to research the Hellenistic period of Greek history and the late Roman Republican period.

"Those are my primary research interests, but most likely I'll be teaching a broader range," she said. "Whenever they hire someone in that field, they usually are required to teach the entire span of history, and then they can have more specialized classes based on their interests."

Doyle said she loves to travel and doesn't mind where she eventually settles down to begin her career as a professor. "I'd be happy anywhere. I just want to teach and be able to continue with my research and studies. I really enjoy learning and going to school. I think being a professor is an extension of that," she said.

While at USI, Doyle learned how to manage all the demands on her time. "When I got into my upper level classes, I had to learn to prioritize," she said. "Because even though you would like to do every single thing you have to do for every class, you have to know what needs more of your time." She also learned what she needed to do to eventually achieve her goals. "Academics are my priority. Where as others might be more involved with athletics or numerous student organizations, I prefer to go to the library or go home and study," Doyle said.

After all the hard work and effort, Doyle explained what it's like to achieve such a prestigious academic honor. "It's very exciting. I've never set out to get a 4.0, I just wanted to do my very best," she said. "Now that I'm coming to the end, and I've seen that I've worked so hard and it's paying off and I'm being recognized for it, it's very validating."

Though her career at USI is ending, Doyle's academic journey is just beginning. She feels that she is now equipped to succeed anywhere, at any level. "I'm in a transitional point in my life. I'm getting ready to move away and do something different," she said. "I think I'm in a good position, and I know my time here at USI has contributed to that immensely."

Doyle is the daughter of James and Debra Doyle of Lawrenceville, Illinois. She graduated from Red Hill High School in Bridgeport, Illinois.

With the ever-growing importance of a college degree in the job market and the advancement of technology that allows students to take classes from their personal computers, age is irrelevant among college populations.

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