Monday, September 30, 2013

Leadership lived: Graduate student's career enhanced by UIS classroom experience


Bill Lear has many titles. During the week he’s the curator of the Illinois State Military Museum in Springfield, at night he’s a graduate student studying public history at UIS, and one weekend a month he’s a citizen soldier in the Illinois National Guard.

The military museum tells the story of the Illinois Militia, National Guard, and Air Guard from 1723 to present day. Lear is responsible for registering and cataloging artifacts, loaning objects to other museums, creating displays, and writing grants.

“Going through the public history program (at UIS) has validated a lot of the things that I’m doing here,” said Lear. “They very much follow the museum standards and practices of today. Graduating from class I should be ready to go anywhere in the country.”

Lear chose UIS because of the history program’s reputation and the availability of online and on-campus classes, which make it easier for his schedule.

“The master’s program is tough, but it’s rewarding,” he said. “The instructors that I’ve had are very knowledgeable about what they’re teaching.”

He’s always had a love of history, which he’s been able to develop through the program and UIS and his job at the museum.

“For this job, I love to actually be able to handle the objects,” said Lear. “What I’m doing in my job as a curator is preserving this for not just my grandkids, but their grandkids.”

As a member of the Illinois National Guard who was deployed to Afghanistan in 2008 and 2009, he knows how important it is to preserve the history of those who have served our country.

“I want to make sure we get it right because we’re telling the story of really anyone who’s served and that’s a really important story to tell,” said Lear.

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