RaeAnn Brixius ’16 steps out of her small-town setting
Coming from the small town of Tomahawk, Wisconsin, and being a prospective first-generation college student, RaeAnn Brixius ’16 faced many challenges, both financial and in her world-view.
“My dad is a welder, my mom is a Realtor and with the low market she has a lot of really small sales,” Brixius says. “She never knows when she is going to get paid in a month, so it’s kind of stressful. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I did know I wanted more than what a small town and high school degree could offer, and I like learning.”
Brixius is interested in politics and knew a college degree would be helpful. Ripon College offered her several scholarships and continues to assist her in this area so that she can stay at Ripon.
She is majoring in politics and government and psychology, with a minor in religion. Because she is from a small town, she appreciates the smaller setting and homey feel that Ripon College offers over larger schools. She also is pleased with the close relationships that the smaller setting allows with faculty and friends.
The fact that Ripon offers more advanced opportunities sooner than many larger schools was a surprise, she says. “As a freshman, I was interning at the Green Lake County Correctional Facility through Ripon’s psychology department. That was really cool for me.”
She says that a friend who is a psych major at a state university has had minimal personal research experience. “When I told her that I’ve already conducted three experiments through Ripon’s psychology program and one through the politics and government department, she was surprised. She doesn’t get that kind of hands-on experience or research exposure at her school.”
Brixius says she likes the research process, the patience it takes and data collection. “It takes a long time, but it’s fun to see the results,” she says. “What can we get out of this? Where can we go with this? In my first research project, I didn’t find much of significance. It was kind of discouraging. But it’s a good learning process and shows you what it can mean for further research.”
She also has taken advantage of several internships, including three years at the National Speech and Debate Association; does research for Assistant Professor of Politics and Government Henrik Schatzinger, including data collection and analysis; and is participating in a political internship this summer in Oshkosh.
Brixius is looking toward graduate school and says all of her internship and research work is helping her to sort things out and determine a direction for her career. “My plan is to keep doing things like that and letting it go where it goes,” she says.