Hometown: Brookfield, Conn.
Major: Political Science
MINOR: American History
WCSU Degree: Bachelor of Arts in Political Science cum laude
Activities: SGA, Honors Student Organization (HSO), the OWLs, I have worked in Admissions, ITI, and the Honors program. I am also a student Regent on the CT Board of Regents for Higher Education and the chair of the BOR Student Advisory Committee
Honors and Awards: Dean's List for the School of Arts and Sciences six times, 3.67 cumulative GPA, Steven Neuwirth Honors Award, AAUP Student Leadership Award, Marie C. Waser Memorial Education Scholarship, three-year recipient of a University Merit Scholarship
When Michael Fraser first applied to Western, he was denied admission because his 1.98 high school GPA was not high enough. Fraser was given an option to take a few courses at a community college and as long as he received a B or higher in those courses, he would be admitted to WCSU for the following semester. "I took advantage of this option, got the necessary grades, and enrolled at WCSU in the fall of 2009," he says. "I decided to come to Western because it was local and offered the program I wanted to pursue. What's more important, in my case, is why I chose to stay. After my first year at WCSU I was accepted as a transfer student into Columbia University's School of General Studies (a program for nontraditional students). But after meeting Dr. Christopher Kukk, director of Western's Honors Program, I was convinced I could do great things at WCSU." He was right.
Fraser came here planning to study education. "I was originally an education major but I soon realized that I was interested in education theory and policy and not in the practice of teaching," he says. "I switched to political science because I felt it would provide me with a good understanding of education as policy, and it did."
Once here, Fraser made the most of the opportunity to learn from the people he met. "Professor of Political Science Dr. Christopher Kukk has had a profound impact on my life and educational career," he says. "He saw something in me that others did not. In fact, I'm not even sure I knew it was there. He has never stopped encouraging me to be the best student and person I could be, inside and outside of the classroom. Dr. Leslie Lindenauer, associate professor of history, has also had a huge impact on my life and studies. I took my first course at Western with Dr. Lindenauer. Her engaging lecture style, unique approach to the study of history and openness have always made me feel at home in a class with her at the lecture podium. Knowing her and learning from her has made me a better student and a better person. I have also been mentored by Western's president, Dr. James Schmotter. When I plunged headlong into the foreign landscape of public higher education in Connecticut as one of the first student Regents under Connecticut's new higher education governance system, Dr. Schmotter became my guide. He helped me to understand the complex politics and praxis of higher education in Connecticut. When it came time to decide on which graduate school to attend, I sought Dr. Schmotter's tutelage again; his decades of experience in higher education and knowledge of institutional programs and reputations helped me to make one of the hardest decisions of my life."
Asked what he will remember most about his Western experience, Fraser says, "Meeting Sister Helen Prejean and listening to her speak was such an incredible experience for me. I have never been so moved by a lecture as I was that night. Her compassion, kindness and southern storytelling charm were unparalleled."
Fraser applied to and was accepted at Teachers College, Columbia University, Syracuse University and the University of Pennsylvania for graduate school. "After an arduous decision process, I have decided to move to Syracuse in the fall on a full-ride Ph.D. in cultural foundations of education (specifically history and sociology of education) at Syracuse University."
Fraser’s advice to new students entering WCSU is: "College is what you make of it, you get out of it what you put into it — academically and socially. You can sit in your dorm every night, go to classes every day and go home every weekend, or you can get out on campus meet people, join clubs, go to sporting events, attend lectures, go on trips to NYC and enjoy your college experience. It's up to you."