75 Years of Illinois State University Graduate Education logoWoman in black and white photoWoman in black and white photo

Illinois State University’s Graduate School is celebrating a milestone in 2020. Seventy-five years ago, the first master’s degrees were awarded at the University.

The first master’s degree recipients are Charlotte “Betty” Elizabeth (Wilcox) Bothwell (Master of Science in Education—secondary education in biological sciences) and Isabel Katherine Billings (Master of Science in Education—secondary education in geography).

Wilcox was the first of the two to earn her master’s degree in 1945. Afterward, she went on to earn a second Master of Science in public health from University of North Carolina and a doctorate in health education at the University of Illinois. She taught for 37 years; eight of which were at Illinois State Normal University and eventually retired as a professor emeritus from Eureka College in 1984.

Billings was the second to earn her master’s from Illinois State Normal University. Due to finishing her thesis work over the summer, she graduated in August 1945 and was not listed in the spring commencement booklet. She was a school teacher at Hawthorn School teaching third and fourth grade classes in Oak Park.

In honor of the occasion, the Graduate School is asking alumni, students, faculty, and staff to share your story about a graduate student experience at Illinois State. The story could be your own or of fellow graduate students or alumni.

Submitted stories have a chance to be featured on social media and will be entered into a weekly drawing for a Graduate School prize pack.

Follow the Graduate School on social media and watch as a new story is unveiled for the 75 days starting February 25 celebrating the occasion.
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