Wisebaker's self-described "tangled academic journey" included stops at four other higher education institutions before Wittenberg, including Tulane University in New Orleans in 2005. Before he could take a single class there, however, Hurricane Katrina struck the city and forced the Huber Heights, Ohio, native to return home.
"One might say that the timing could not have been worse," Wisebaker said. "The Tulane episode left me rather directionless. I returned home to Ohio unsure of Tulane's future and of my own. As I watched the tragic aftermath unfold on TV, I became more uncertain as to what I was going to do."
After a semester at nearby Wright State University, Wisebaker decided not to return to Tulane, but to attend Wittenberg instead thanks to a scholarship provided by Phi Theta Kappa, a national honor society for two-year colleges. In so doing, Wisebaker met Professor of English Ty Buckman, and his academic career was changed forever.
"Dr. Buckman invited me to embark on an independent study and has been in the habit of putting me through one challenge after the other ever since," Wisebaker said.
Buckman encouraged Wisebaker to submit a portion of his independent study to a literary conference in Indiana, where it won the Best Analytical Paper award. He also submitted the paper to the National Conference for Undergraduate Research in San Francisco and the Purdue Renaissance Prose Conference, hosted by Wittenberg in November 2007. He made presentations in San Francisco and at the Wittenberg event.
Buckman described Wisebaker's work as "a determined and truly impressive study of Milton," calling his writing "the best literary criticism I have seen from an undergraduate in 15 years of teaching."
"Josh's story has the potential to inspire both the Wittenberg community and an even wider audience," Buckman said. "He is a great person, as well as an exceptionally promising student."
The Davies-Jackson Fellowship was established by an anonymous benefactor and is given annually to at least one student from an American liberal arts college. It includes a full two-year scholarship to St. John's, one of the top colleges among more than 30 that make up the University of Cambridge. Wisebaker will use the scholarship to attain a master of philosophy in Medieval and Renaissance Literature.
"I think you have to kind of fling yourself into things without really knowing if you're up to it, and by doing so, by challenging yourself beyond what you think is possible, this is how true intellectual and emotional growth is achieved," Wisebaker said. "As I have found, there are many variables beyond one's control, but there is one variable that you can control, which is your own hard work and perseverance, and I think that if you have these the rest will work itself out."
Written By: Lauren Johnson '09
Photo By: Ryan Charles '08
Send a Message
• Book-Delivering Prof Named Ohio Professor of the Year
• Senior Class Selects Livestrong President & CEO Doug Ulman As 2011 Commencement Speaker
•Communication Program Honored Nationally With Top Award
• Wittenberg University Art Students Finalists For Scholarship Award