Crowe completes PhD after returning to WBU

March 1, 2014

PLAINVIEW -- Rebekah Crowe graduated from Wayland Baptist University with a Bachelor of Arts in History in 2002.  Last fall she returned to Wayland as an Assistant Professor of History and has since completed her doctorate at Texas Christian University.

Rebekah CroweCrowe completed her doctoral degree in December after defending her dissertation entitled “Civis Americans Sum: George Francis Train and the Idea of Young America.” Crowe came across Train’s name while working on her master’s degree at Baylor, and she could not get him out of her mind.

“I came across his name and had no idea who he was,” Crowe said, “so I asked my professors and none of them had heard of him.  I started looking him up and just kind of felt attracted to him.  I didn’t end up writing my thesis on him, but he stayed in the back of my mind. So when I went to TCU to start my PhD I knew exactly what I was going to do.”

Train was a businessman in the late 19th century who had ties to projects and causes all over the United States, and for that reason Crowe’s research led her all over the country.  She conducted research in Salt Lake City, Utah, Denver, Colorado, and New York City, just to name a few.

“I am always checking to see if there is a Train connection whenever I go anywhere,” Crowe said.

After working on her dissertation for about four years, Crowe completed her defense last November. 

“I was nervous before my defense, but then when I got there it was really a relief,” Crowe said. “I knew my professors would have never let me get that far without knowing that I could succeed, so it was actually an incredibly enjoyable experience.  It was fun to be able to kind of show off what I had spent my life on, and it felt good to be officially done.”

The completion of her doctoral degree is not the only accomplishment that Crowe has made lately.  A chapter of her dissertation was recently published in the winter 2014 issue of Great Plains Quarterly, a scholarly journal based out of the University of Nebraska.

“This particular chapter is about George Francis Train’s time in Nebraska, he was concerned with the Union Pacific Railroad and pushed expansion,” Crowe said. “He really liked Nebraska and saw a lot of potential for Nebraska long before many other people did.”

While Crowe would love to continue and expand upon her research of Train, she also has plans to begin a new research project that is much more connected to Wayland.  She is currently trying to research Lea Ola McDonald, a Wayland student who gave her life for her country during World War II.

“That is one of my most pressing research projects right now,” Crowe said. “I would like to find out more about her life, find any remaining family, and then find a way to honor her for her service.”

Crowe’s educational journey has come full circle.  As a professor she now occupies the very office she used to work in as a student worker while she attended Wayland as an undergrad.

“It feels wonderful to be back at the end of a long journey,” Crowe said, “and to be on staff with people that used to be my mentors is really humbling and really exciting.  I have such respect for these people and now getting to be one of them, I couldn’t think of a better job.”