Skip Navigation LinksHome / Liberal Arts Lowdown / Who Studies the Liberal Arts? / Allison “Alli” Baugher

Securing America’s Future:

The Power of Liberal Arts Education

Allison “Alli” Baugher

Spanish Teacher
Susquehanna University (PA), Class of 2008
Allison Baugher is an award-winning Spanish teacher at Ballou Senior High School in Washington, DC. She is in her sixth year teaching at the inner city school.

Among the many and varied experiences she had at Susquehanna, Baugher, who graduated with degrees in Spanish, religion, and music, took service trips to Nicaragua and Costa Rica and spent a semester studying in Merida, Mexico. The opportunities sold her on Spanish and urban life. Then, a last-minute application to Teach for America led to a two-year assignment at Ballou Senior High School—one of Washington’s poorest high schools—and ultimately a permanent position. Because of Baugher’s work, the school has expanded from offering just two years of Spanish to four years, including an advanced placement class. She also founded and directs the school’s international education program, which is celebrating its fifth year of student travel. In 2010, the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region awarded Baugher the Linowes Leadership Award.
When the time came to select a college, I had no idea what to look for because all I had been told about the college search process was to find a place where I could pursue the career of my choice. Unfortunately, with my wide variety of interests, I didn’t know what that was yet. I was attracted to all the big names, and it seemed that since I didn’t know what I wanted to do, the most logical decision was to pick a big school with endless options. Like many high school juniors and seniors, I visited lots of schools, but I came away from most of those visits feeling even more lost and confused than before.
 
I had been encouraged by several members of my home community to visit Susquehanna University, a small college I had never heard of in a town similar to my own—not exactly what I was looking for. I didn’t even understand what liberal arts meant. So I begrudgingly tagged along with my mother one weekend and to my surprise, was sold from the moment I walked on campus.

What I didn’t realize at the time, but now credit for my happiness and success in my career, is that this is the purpose of a liberal arts education: To instill a passion for learning and discovery in all students so they can tackle any challenge that is presented to them in the future, whether it be professional or personal.

My focus on career shifted to a focus on curiosity and exploration. Professors and other students encouraged me to take courses because they intrigued me, not because they necessarily aligned with a particular career path. Once I followed that advice and became immersed in the learning environment of Susquehanna, it caught on like wildfire.
 
What I didn’t realize at the time, but now credit for my happiness and success in my career, is that this is the purpose of a liberal arts education: To instill a passion for learning and discovery in all students so they can tackle any challenge that is presented to them in the future, whether it be professional or personal. I ended up with a triple major in Spanish, religion, and music—three seemingly unrelated majors, none of which would be considered by many to be “good decisions” if my focus was on simply getting a job or making lots of money.
 
However, now in my sixth year as a high school Spanish teacher in Washington, DC, I use my three majors and everything else that my liberal arts education taught me every day. My ministry is serving inner-city youth and making it my goal to ignite in them the same passion for learning and exploration that was taught to me at Susquehanna. And ask any of my students, I haven’t given up my love of music either. Singing and dancing are a daily occurrence in Ms. Baugher’s class. In fact, some of the songs I learned in my Spanish classes at Susquehanna are being sung up and down the halls of Ballou Senior High School these days. My interest in travel and the incredibly eye-opening travel experiences I participated in while at Susquehanna, inspired me to start an international travel program at the school where I teach. I now have the honor of observing my own students come alive with curiosity as they explore the world outside of DC.
 
I am a product of a liberal arts education, and the greatest advice I can give my students is not to seek a college or university that merely focuses on career goals, but to seek knowledge and explore all of the “unturned rocks” so that they discover where their passions lie and what their career goals should be. Only once you’ve found your dream can you begin to pursue it. And I thank Susquehanna University for giving me the space and time to discover my dreams and the personal attention and support to help me achieve them.
See who else studies the liberal arts.
No