Interview with Mandy Webster, Academic Science Advisor

Interview with Mandy Webster, Academic Science Advisor


Many Webster


Download WebsterMandy_2023.pdf (142 KB)

Download WebsterMandy_2023.txt (21 KB)

Download WebsterMandy_2023.docx (40 KB)


Media is loading


Oral history interview with Illinois State University employee Mandy Webster. The interview was conducted on August 29, 2023 by Rexton Jones, at the time an undergraduate student at Illinois State University.

Webster grew up in rural Effingham County, Illinois as part of a large extended family. After high school she worked a number of dead-end jobs before deciding to join the Air Force at the age of 21. After leaving the military and moving to Wisconsin to be closer to her husband’s family she earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in business management from Cardinal Stritch University. Though her parents hadn’t attended university, she was inspired to pursue higher education by her grandmother, who left her husband of 35 years after having 13 children with him to go back to school. She initially selected a “practical” degree because she had been advised it would help her find a higher-paying job.

However, these degrees brought neither satisfaction nor the promised lucrative career. Now a divorced single mother, Webster elected to pursue a second graduate degree in creative writing at Mount Mary University. While a student she served as editor-in-chief for the school paper and worked part-time as lead copywriter for an e-commerce website. She also received a national award from the English honor society Sigma Tau Delta for her blog.

After graduation, Webster worked as an adjunct instructor in the Wisconsin Technical College System, but wasn’t able to make ends meet when her course load was cut back. While searching for a new position she applied to over a thousand jobs but was impeded by being educationally overqualified for entry-level positions while lacking the experience desired by higher-level postings. At ISU she started out as a web specialist in the Psychology Department, then worked for a time as an office manager at Ewing Cultural Center before finally finding her current role as the academic advisor for chemistry and physics in the Department of Chemistry.

Alongside her positions in academia, Webster has pursued a successful writing career, independently publishing several novels and establishing her own publishing company. She describes the mission of her writing as “show, don’t tell” and expresses a hope that it will “make people kind of step into the shoes of the people that you're talking about and actually feel the way they feel.” She also aims to help other authors develop their skills and publish books that may be overlooked by the mainstream publishing industry.

Webster also served on McLean, Illinois Village Board from 2019-2023, an experience she describes as making “a lot of big decisions about little things that mean a lot to people in a small town,” such as curbing the local skunk population by providing residents with sturdier garbage bins.

Publication Date



  • Introduction; Webster’s early life: 00:00-01:49
  • Business degrees from Cardinal Stritch University: 01:49-03:26
  • Decision to pursue additional graduate degree in creative writing: 03:26-05:14
  • Inspiration of her grandmother: 05:14-06:40
  • Navigating second graduate degree at Mount Mary University: 06:40-10:10
  • Working as an adjunct instructor at Wisconsin Technical College; subsequent job search: 10:10-12:36
  • Positions at ISU: 12:36-14:44
  • Career as independently published author: 14:44-20:05
  • Serving on Village Board of McLean: 20:05-21:29
  • Receiving award from Sigma Tau Delta: 21:29-22:40
  • Feelings regarding (lack of) support she has received in her roles at ISU: 22:40-23:38
  • Conclusion: 23:38-24:07

Interview with Mandy Webster, Academic Science Advisor