#IamPeruState: Dr. Sara Brandes Crook

#IamPeruState: Dr. Sara Brandes Crook

Peru, Nebraska—#IamPeruState would like to present Dr. Sara Brandes Crook, professor of Political Science and History at Peru State College. Dr. Crook currently sits on the Nebraska 150 Foundation Executive Committee and is the Chair of Nebraska’s Sesquicentennial Commission.

Dr. Crook said, "There’s just nothing like going home at the end of the day and saying, “I think I made a difference today.” . . . You know, in the end, it’s about giving your gift away, and that’s what I try to do."

Dr. Crook said, “There’s just nothing like going home at the end of the day and saying, “I think I made a difference today”. . . you know, in the end, it’s about giving your gift away, and that’s what I try to do.”

Dr. Crook grew up in Central City, Nebraska with her parents and one sister. She graduated from the University of Nebraska with a bachelor’s degree in social science education and a minor in physical education. After four years teaching and coaching middle school and high school, Crook worked at a radio station. During her year at the radio station, she got the chance to interview multiple politicians because it was an election year.

Deciding to return to political science and education, Dr. Crook received her master’s degree in political science from the University of Nebraska. Then she studied at the University of Iowa to begin her doctorate. During this time, she met her now-husband John Crook, a farmer from Nebraska. Since they planned to marry, Dr. Crook wanted to be closer to him, she moved her studies back to UNL and earned a Ph.D. in political science.

Peru State hired Dr. Crook as adjunct faculty in 1984, and she became a full-time faculty member in 1993, teaching political science and history. Since joining the PSC staff, Dr. Crook has been involved in many organizations on and off campus.

Recently, Dr. Crook has reelected Chair of the Nebraska Sesquicentennial Commission. The role began around 2012 when she joined the Executive Committee of the Nebraska 150 Foundation. The Foundation is comprised of several people who have relations to Nebraska’s 125th anniversary in 1992. Some members are even connected back to Nebraska’s centennial in 1967.

At Peru State, Dr. Crook is also heavily involved in the sesquicentennial planning on campus.

“I was the one who nagged – that’s a good word for it – Dr. Hanson to create a committee to plan for the 150th anniversary.”

Dr. Crook shared that Peru State has planned events that not only showcase the College and its accomplishments, but also the talents of the students and faculty. Many events scheduled for the upcoming school year are student and faculty-driven. Dr. Crook complimented President Dr. Hanson’s organization and dedication to planning a well-rounded calendar of events for PSC’s sesquicentennial.

While Crook’s positions for the state and Peru State sesquicentennials are separate from each other, they do feed off each other. The college has been able to benefit from Dr. Crook’s communication with the state organization. For example, the Charter Day Commemoration on June 20, 2017, was one of the first in the state to be given “Signature Event” status by the Nebraska Sesquicentennial Commission. Other organizations can apply for official status to the Commission, but as one of a few “Signature Event” created just for 2017, Peru State’s Charter Day is considered a special event and is listed on the http://www.ne150.org calendar of events online.

When asked about what she is most excited for, regarding the sesquicentennial celebration on campus, Dr. Crook said, “The most memorable thing to look forward to is some of the ideas that students created and organized.”

For example, Dr. Crook noted that members of Phi Alpha Theta, an honorary society for history or social science students, will interview alumni and long-time faculty members about their memories of Peru State. Hopefully, the footage will be made into a documentary that the College can use for admissions or the newly redesigned schoolhouse and visitor center.

Dr. Crook added, “It’s nice to have those memories recorded because people don’t live forever. And some of their stories are amazing. Some people have met their spouse at Peru State. Others have launched themselves into a career that they never thought was possible because they studied here.”

Also at PSC, Dr. Crook is one of three co-advisors for Phi Alpha Theta. As co-advisor, Dr. Crook helps coordinate trips to many cities, including Boston, Kansas City, Omaha and Washington D.C., where a group of students witnessed Barrack Obama’s second presidential inauguration in 2013.

Dr. Crook has also been the director of the History Day Contest at Peru State since it was created in 1985. Next year, though, Crook will relinquish her director position to another professor.

At the age of five, Dr. Crook’s involvement with politics began. During the 1960-Presidential Election between Senator John F. Kennedy and Vice President Richard Nixon, Dr. Crook watched their televised debate while at school. When she returned home that day, she told her father about how she voted at school. As a die-hard republican, her father hoped she had voted for Nixon, but Dr. Crook voted for Kennedy.

“When he asked me why, I said because Kennedy is good-looking. What little girl wouldn’t pick Kennedy over Nixon?” Crook explained with a laugh.

During the #IamPeruState campaign, current students, alumni and faculty members will be interviewed by student interns in the Marketing Department to highlight the accomplishments and dedication of the Peru State community. Those interviews will be used to create videos, press releases, posters and social media posts to showcase what it means to say #IamPeruState.

To find out more about Crook and her achievements, watch the accompanying video of her interview at https://youtu.be/zAJLenrQpPo.


Ashley Peiman contributed to this release.