Skip to main content
Claire Bess
More Than I Imagined Seniors reflect on accomplishments and look ahead

Claire Bess

Graduation year: 2023

High school: Springfield High School

Hometown: Springfield, Ill.

Majors: Geography; sociology and anthropology

Minors: Public health, GIST (Geographic Information Science and Technology)

Activities: Chi Alpha Pi sorority, Geography Club

Internships: World Relief Quad Cities – Immigrant Family Resource Program intern; Augustana Food Pantry intern

Post-grad plans: Masters of Public Health in Health Policy and Management at the University of Pittsburgh

Why Augustana?

I initially started looking at Augustana because it had the majors and courses I knew I was interested in, but as I visited additional schools, it became the place I compared everything to. I quickly fell in love with the Quad Cities and the campus; it always felt the most like home!

Are you where you thought you'd be when you first came to campus?

Yes and no. When I arrived at Augie, I knew what majors I wanted to declare, that I wanted to work in the Office of Admissions, and that I wanted to make the most out of my time here. Beyond those I was open to wherever my journey took me.

Over the course of my four years, I have added two minors, joined a sorority and had amazing experiences through my departments — none of which I expected. I don't think I could have ever anticipated where I am today, but I'm so glad I'm here!

Who helped you get to where you are now?

The list is a long one! I couldn't be more thankful to the people who have supported me during my time at Augie!

My whole family, especially my parents who have always been such a huge part of my life, for their support and guidance, and many hours of phone calls.

All of the faculty and staff who helped me along the way, especially Dr. Croll, Dr. Strunk and Dr. Horner Brackett, who have advised and taught me so much throughout my four years.

The wonderful people at World Relief Quad Cities where I completed my internship, as well as the lifelong friends that I have made in my sorority, departments and jobs on campus.

Peak experience?

After almost two years of working on my senior capstone project for both of my majors, I had the opportunity to present it at the American Association of Geographers Annual Meeting in Denver, Colo.

I attended my first national conference, presented a project I'm passionate about, met amazing geographers from around the world, and explored Colorado and the Rocky Mountains with some of my geography department peers. It was the pinnacle of an amazing four years at Augie.

What surprised you?

I was surprised by the sense of home that I found in my departments. Being able to stop by professors' offices even if you don't have them for a class that term and being able to celebrate accomplishments with the people who have helped you get to where you are is so special.

How did you use your Augie Choice?

I used my Augie Choice to go on the GEOG-230 course trip to Coastal Louisiana, which focuses on water and environmental justice in the region. This is one of my favorite Augie experiences. During the trip, we visited places and met people that impacted each and every one of us.

What will you miss the most?

I will miss the faculty and staff the most! My professors played such an important role in my time here, and I will forever be thankful to have had such wonderful teachers.

Advice for the Class of 2027?

Study away/abroad, do research and pursue what you’re passionate about. So many of the experiences you have at Augie will be once-in-a-lifetime, so take advantage of the knowledge, resources and support that you will find here. Most importantly, make memories that you can look back on and smile at.

"Claire is a double major, and also has two minors, including public health. Next year she is headed to graduate school for public health, and has integrated her coursework at Augustana to prepare for her long-term goal of reshaping government health care programs. She completed an amazing Senior Inquiry project with World Relief and new Syrian refugees, and she continues to impress me with her ideas and enthusiasm."

– Dr. Rachel Horner Brackett, visiting assistant professor, sociology and anthropology