Real Talk: Current Bridgewater College faculty and staff members share how their alma mater prepared them for the future

Woman holding an Ecuadorian child|

Current Bridgewater College faculty and staff members share how their alma mater prepared them for their  future.

Current Bridgewater College faculty and staff members share how their alma mater prepared them for their  future.


Headshot of a man with a mustache
Chip Studwell ’77

I went blind during my last two years as a student at Bridgewater.

While attempting to function as a student and otherwise live my life, I was losing my sight.

The magnitude of that change is more than I can articulate, but my approach was to handle it and continue moving forward. It was not something I talked about because there was a whole lot of unknown I was trying to figure out.

The detail is not important, but my choice of where I was going to go through this life-altering change was. I was experiencing feelings of aloneness and uncertainty about who I was and implications of this change on my future. The prospects of stepping away to adjust to being blind was not what I needed. I wanted and needed to be in the community of which I was part at Bridgewater College.

I thank God for the students, faculty and staff of the college at that time! There were a number of people from the Bridgewater College community who touched my life with genuine care, interest and love. For that I will always be grateful.

I am truly blessed to have been part of this community!

Chip Studwell ’77

Director of Academic Support Services


Woman holding an Ecuadorian child
Kara Showalter Folmar ’09 studied abroad in Ecuador. She is an instructor of world languages and culture at the College.

The most transformative experience during my time at Bridgewater College was my semester abroad in Ecuador. As a language major, immersion was critical to strengthen and refine my fluency, but more than that, my experience shaped, developed and refined my worldview, my hunger for adventure and my ability to adapt. Nobody was there to rescue me when I got lost and took the wrong bus home. I had to ask strangers for help in my second language. I was stretched to take a 300-level political science course, meeting regularly with the professor to grasp complex ideas without relying on English. I traveled and navigated new places, met people who lived life very differently than I did and had values not like my own. In short, I became comfortable leaving my comfort zone, and it showed.

Following graduate school shortly after the economic recession of 2008, I had multiple job offers. I realized that this success during a tough job market was due to my experiences living in another country; it made me competitive. Employers were looking for candidates who were open to new experiences, willing to embrace ideas that were not comfortable and familiar, and could adapt and relate to any situation or people group. This was especially true as I embraced a job in education. In this day and age, it is especially critical for students to be culturally competent. And that goes so far beyond knowing facts about countries and what food and music their people enjoy.

In my classes at BC, I regularly draw from my experiences abroad, hoping to inspire students to pursue responsible travel and grow in knowledge and respect for other cultures. I am so grateful BC gave me this opportunity.

Kara Showalter Folmar ’09

Instructor of World Languages and Culture