Rebekah Stranger '23, Integrated Social Studies and Integrated Language Arts

Rebekah Stranger ‘23 was looking for a college that she could call home.

“While I was doing college visits my senior year, my Bible study leaders said that wherever you go that feels like home, and where the Holy Spirit gives you peace, is where you should go. Every time I was on Malone’s campus it felt exactly like that,” said Stranger.

She was also looking for a school with a solid education program, “so Malone just made sense,” said Stranger.

Stranger, an honors integrated social studies and integrated language arts major, recalls always wanting to be a teacher.

“Every kid goes through phases, but I always landed back on education. Both of my parents are educators, and I was naturally interested in it growing up,” said Stranger. “I changed my idea of what I wanted to teach a lot, but I found that I am best suited for history and English.”

Stranger’s time at Malone has been much more than simply preparing to be a teacher. Through her work in the honors program, she had the opportunity to present a research paper, a paper that has been brewing her whole life, at Baylor University.

“I’m very interested in Asian American immigrant history, and I’m also working on an undergrad thesis for the honors program focused on that subject,” said Stranger. “I loved the American Girl books as a kid, and a lot of my love and knowledge of history is because of that. I realized that I didn’t know very much about Asian American history, and there wasn’t a lot of representation of Asian Americans in those books that I loved, so I wanted to address that gap in my knowledge.”

Stranger used her classwork at Malone as a chance to study and refine her understanding of her interest.

“I took a few classes and completed some projects related to that topic. Dr. Stuckey emailed me about the Baylor conference and encouraged me to submit a paper for it, so I wrote up an abstract and the conference accepted it,” said Stranger. “My presentation and paper was on Chinese American Education throughout the exclusion era at the end of the 19th century.”

The experience was full of firsts for Stranger, who rose to the challenge.

“It was my first academic presentation ever, and I had never flown on a plane before! Dr. Case also attended, so I wasn’t totally alone,” said Stranger. “I love Malone and being around Malone people, but I also loved the chance to go somewhere where everyone didn’t really know about Malone and what we’re all about. In addition, I met and spoke with different professors and historians. Having that wider academic contextual experience was amazing.”

Although Stranger’s academic circle has widened as a result of attending the conference, she still credits the Malone foundation with getting her there.

“Having professors encourage me to simply apply to present at the conference was huge, and having close relationships with those professors was absolutely crucial as well - they helped me in both writing and editing whenever I needed it,” said Stranger. “I also felt very prepared to network and interact with others at the conference, which is something I didn’t really think about prior. I had all the tools I needed to succeed.”

Fresh off of her first academic presentation, Stranger wasn’t about to slow down. Seeds planted in her earlier college career led to her next adventure: President of the Student Body.

“I was convinced, first, by a friend to apply as a Senator in student government. I got the position, and it was a fun experience as an underclassman,” said Stranger. “Then I had people encourage me to run for President, but I wasn’t too sure about it. I knew it would be a lot more than I had done before. However, I had a bunch of different experiences that prepared me, and I felt like God had put me in unique places and situations within campus; so I decided to run for it. It’s going to stretch me and be a challenge, but overall I’m excited about it.”

The same support and encouragement that Stranger found in her academic pursuits is echoed in her extracurricular pursuits.

“Malone’s community helped me prepare for the role of President. If one doesn’t exactly think of themselves as outgoing, professors and students really come alongside them and support them,” said Stranger. “The Student Development office is full of encouraging people, and they look for the best in every student. If you want to get involved, and if you take that scary first step, people will help you and embrace you in the community.”

Even with her plate as full as it is, Stranger still looks forward to the future and impacting lives past her time at Malone as an educator.

“Going into teaching is the ideal situation for me. I’d love to teach in an urban school district, but I’m open to anywhere that I have peace about as I interview and search,” said Stranger. “Just like my plans as President, in the future, no matter what I do, I want to empower people to find ways to give back to their communities.”