From the moment Peter Strobel ’19 stepped on campus, history professor Dr. Mark Orsag knew he was an extraordinarily gifted student.
How bright exactly?
In Orsag’s 21 years at Doane, he has had prospective students who come to campus for a visit complete an analytical exercise. There are 10 stages of this exercise, and he says most students get to stage 4. Peter, however, got through stage 9 with no mistakes and completed stage 10 with only one mistake.
“In 21 years of doing this, it was the best score I’ve ever had,” he says.
Four years later, the Leawood, Kansas native has lived up to Orsag’s expectations.. and then some. Strobel will graduate from Doane next month with a degree in history, but his academic journey won’t stop there. Strobel was recently admitted to Yale Divinity School in New Haven, Connecticut and will begin his graduate coursework there this fall.
“It’s an honor to be accepted to Yale,” Strobel says. “I keep trying to deflect credit that people give me because I insist that all of this wouldn’t have been possible without the people around me at Doane. The whole process of academic inquiry and personal journey I’ve gone through these four years has been astounding. I attribute this to the faculty here as proof that they’re doing great things at Doane.”
Strobel applied to four graduate schools -- Yale Divinity School (New Haven, CT), Pacific School of Religion (Berkeley, CA), Eden Theological Seminary (St. Louis, MO), and Chicago Theological Seminary -- and was accepted into every school. During Orsag’s 20-plus years at Doane, he believes Strobel is the first social sciences student (history, sociology, psychology, political science, law, politics, and society majors) to be admitted to an Ivy league school for graduate work.
“Anytime someone is admitted into an Ivy League school, you’re always a little bit surprised,” Orsag says. “They’re so ridiculously competitive and Peter, who isn’t a legacy student, was competing for the fraction of a percent of the students that they do admit. I knew he had a good chance because he’s such a quality person and his work has been off the charts for four years.”
Strobel will be a part of an incoming class of roughly 60 students at Yale Divinity School, he said. He believes there are around 300 students in the program in total. Strobel also believes he is the only student from Nebraska in the incoming class, noting that the majority of students are from the Boston or New York City area.
Strobel, who at one point considered applying for a fundraising-related job after graduation, felt a calling to go to seminary after visiting with his pastor this winter.
“I hadn’t considered to be a minister but visiting with my pastor opened my eyes to the possibility,” he said. “To be honest, I was a little hesitant to apply to Yale at first but I’m so glad I did. After visiting campus it was everything that I was looking for.
“I came to Doane expecting to be a full-time college student and not involved in much else yet I ended up being involved in a lot of activities and different clubs. I could see Yale being the same way. Yale has a lot of similarities to Doane.”
Some of the activities Strobel is heavily involved in include Doane Choir, Doublewide Choir, his fraternity, Alpha Pi Epsilon, and his work with the Alumni & Advancement office on the Senior Gift Campaign and Greek Phone-A-Thon.
Dr. Kurt Runestad, Director of Choral and Vocal Activities at Doane, has spent a great deal of time with Peter in the classroom and outside of it, including on their choir trips across the United States and their trip to South Africa last May.
“Having a student like Peter in my classes for each of his eight semesters at Doane is one of the great privileges and pleasures of my professional life,” Runestad said. “Having those kinds of experiences together can’t help but deepen a relationship, particularly when shared with a student as dedicated, caring, insightful, and thoughtful as Peter. Having his perspective in class has enriched all of us who spend time with him.”
While Strobel is certainly excited for the next chapter of his life at Yale, he says it will be bittersweet graduating from Doane next month.
“Doane provided me with countless opportunities to explore,” he said. “Doane offered an environment where if you have the will to do it, you can succeed. I’m really glad that I came here.”