SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Wofford College senior Chandler Compton has very specific goals, and his current January Interim independent study project is helping him get there.

Compton is researching post-9/11 first-hand, written accounts of military personnel and news reporters who have spent time in the conflict zones of Iraq, “a country that continues to polarize our country’s foreign policy conversation. My hope is that researching those texts specifically will allow me to better appreciate the Iraq War’s complexity and better understand its impact on individual people and communities here at home and abroad.”

Wofford’s January Interim frees students and faculty to spend the month focused on a single topic designed to push through the walls of the traditional classroom, explore new and untried topics, take academic risks, observe issues in action, develop capabilities for independent learning and consider different peoples, places and professional options. Students have the opportunity to study abroad; participate in local, national and international internships; conduct research; or participate in on-campus non-traditional courses.

An English and international affairs major from Cedar Grove, North Carolina, Compton plans to attend the U.S. Marine Corps Officer Candidate School in Quantico, Virginia, after graduating from Wofford, with the goal of earning a commission as a Marine Corps officer. “I expect this project will leave me better informed about the nuances of the conflicts I will soon engage in and prepare me for the impact they will have on me, those I lead and those we fight against.

“Our country’s involvement in the Middle East is without an end in sight,” he continues, “meaning this Interim’s studies will allow me to dive deep into the issues that dominate today’s headlines.”

Compton’s previous Interims have “set the stage” for his current one, he adds. “In my first year, I spent the month studying the Roman Empires, whose history shares some interesting parallels with our own, I think. My second Interim experience – and internship at a law office – was valuable because it showed me that I have little interest in becoming an attorney and that I should explore other interests.”

His 2019 Interim was spent in Prague, Czechoslovakia, where he was a research assistant at the Institute of International Relations. “There, I studied the motivations of transnational insurgents from Chechnya in joining the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. Each Interim has undoubtedly contributed to my interest in my current project and career goals beyond Wofford.”