Graduating Senior Spotlight: Q&A with Cindi Houtkooper

A selfie of Cindi Houtkeeper in a black shirt in front of a bathroom door.

Hometown: Dickinson, ND and Osseo, MN

Major(s) and Minor(s): Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature

Activities you are involved in: Having a family with two daughters, and working full-time. 

What brought you to the University of Minnesota and how did you end up choosing your major(s) and minor(s)?

I started fresh out of high school in 1996. Minneapolis was the big city I escaped to from my North Dakota hometown. I chose CSCL because it combined all my interests in history/literature/art into one neat package. I crashed and burned in 1999, taking time off from studies that turned into 20 years off. I returned during the spring semester of 2022 to finally finish my degree and have been chipping away at classes while working full time.

Which CLA class or professor has had the biggest impact on you? 

Gary Thomas.

What course would you recommend for other students in your major? And for students outside of your major, what course would be a good introduction to what you study?

LING 3001 - Intro to Linguistics was great. It got me thinking in completely different ways about language.

Tell us about a class you still think a lot about.

CSCL 3220 Screen Cultures - the class discussion was absolutely fantastic

What has been your favorite part of your experience with your department(s) and within your major(s) and minor(s)?

Coming back to school after over 20 years out in the "real world" has been an absolutely amazing experience. Thank you so much to everyone who has eased my return - my professors and classmates, my advisor, and especially my husband and children who sacrificed their claims to my time and attention so I could do this.

What is one aspect of your major or minor that has surprised you? What do you wish more people understood about what you study?

Culture is the sum of everything humans produce and everything we are - our buildings, writings, our thoughts, our objects. Thinking critically about who and what we are is vitally important to our present and our future.

What is your dream job? How is your liberal arts education helping you reach your post-graduation goals?

I work as a paraprofessional librarian and I use my liberal arts education every day.

If you had the world's attention for 30 seconds, what would you say?

Learn more. Read more. Think more.

What's next for you? What are your post-graduation plans?

I already have a career and a family and a home of my own, so I've kind of checked the big boxes. I plan to switch gears from feeling guilty about not finishing my degree to feeling guilty about not going to graduate school.

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