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Securing America’s Future:

The Power of Liberal Arts Education

Michelle “Chelle” McIntyre-Brewer

Founder, Soldier’s List
Susquehanna University (PA), Class of 2001
Michelle ‘Chelle’ McIntyre-Brewer is the founder of Soldier’s List, a support organization for service members and their families. She was awarded the 2011 Presidential Citizens Medal, the nation’s second-highest civilian award, “for ensuring we uphold our obligations to those who defend our freedom,” according to her official White House citation.
 
Her experiences as the daughter of a 33-year Air Force veteran and the wife of an Army captain— coupled with losing a child, raising a daughter who is missing half her heart, and adopting an ill son from China—led McIntyre-Brewer to focus her life’s mission on two key areas: supporting military families and advocating for the medical needs of children.
 
She founded Soldier’s List in 2003 in response to the wars in the Middle East. The organization began as a way for people to connect with deployed members of the military and to show their support. Over time, Soldier’s List evolved to support high-risk service members and their families facing such hardships as lack of family support, marital issues, and the acute special needs of spouses and children. To this end, McIntyre-Brewer has worked with the military community to educate families about their rights and responsibilities and available services. Part and parcel to the work she does with Soldier’s List, McIntyre-Brewer advocates for children with special needs, in particular orphans.
 
She is a 2001 graduate of Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania.
There was no way that I could have known upon entering Susquehanna University what my life would be like in the future. Few people know exactly what they want to do with their lives as they set out to find an institution of higher learning. That is what makes a liberal arts education so appealing: Regardless of the major one achieves, a well-balanced and in-depth education occurs.
 
My days at Susquehanna University centered upon the performing arts, literature, music, and history. I chose a path that was enriching for my cultural pursuits, and today that experience has been an invaluable tool. Ironically, my work has very little to do with anything in the artistic arena. It has everything to do with advocating for those who seldom have a voice; painstakingly researching medical, legal, and legislative information; and maintaining three organizations while homeschooling my children with special needs and balancing my sanity.

Few people know exactly what they want to do with their lives as they set out to find an institution of higher learning. That is what makes a liberal arts education so appealing: Regardless of the major one achieves, a well-balanced and in-depth education occurs.

In reality, even the best laid plans don’t always come to fruition, and that was the case for me. Although I am a great lover of the arts, I learned fairly quickly that I wanted something different for myself. I desired stability, weekends off, and the chance to go to bed early—something rare in the world of entertainment. So, I became a middle school teacher. I have always loved pre-teens, and teaching was a great way to enjoy my interests while sharing them with others. I was even able to start the organization I currently run. Unfortunately, life threw some curveballs my way and my world exploded. My daughter was born missing half of her heart, and my husband was very badly injured in the military. Working was not something I could do until they both were stable. So, always looking for the next great idea, I used my education in research skills to help me navigate the medical world—something I never thought I would need to do.
 
I started advocating for medically fragile children, working with military families, veterans, and wounded warriors. I had no trouble transitioning because my liberal arts education prepared me to take on new challenges head first. It required me to study topics that weren’t necessarily my first choice and to learn to enjoy that new subject matter and find ways to embrace topics outside of my comfort zone. My experience at Susquehanna also prepared me to be able to present myself to the world in an honest, forthright manner while maintaining a professional demeanor.
 
Liberal arts colleges offer a type of learning that encompasses all aspects of life. Combining the residential experience with a commitment to extracurricular interests, and a challenging curriculum that seeks to present a well-balanced young adult ready to take on the world, liberal arts colleges afford students the opportunity to not have all of the answers straight away, but still be able to succeed in our modern world. My education at Susquehanna University ensured that, although life may present challenges beyond the scope of the imagination, I would be able to succeed.
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