Alumni Profiles

Adam Bruno, Class of 2017

Why did you choose a degree in history? I came to Valpo as a history and secondary education major and chose to study history for a variety of reasons.  Probably the greatest motivating factor in my study of history, is to use the past to help inform the present, and to use this understanding to better society.  The other big reason I chose history was that I knew I wanted to teach and pass the importance of historical understanding to others; with the motivation being to help others become informed and productive members of society. What are you doing now? Studying history at Valpo has been greatly influential in many ways, with my current placement in life being a direct result of my undergraduate study of history.  I am currently pursuing an MA in History at Miami University (the one in Ohio, not Florida), where I am researching American Conservatism in the 1960s and 70s, and in particular how conservatism manifests itself in public spaces.  Part of what drew me towards pursuing a study of conservatism was taking Professor Elder's American Conservatism course my junior year.  This course provided me with a great background on a field of rising importance in…

Patrick Hanlon, Class of 2015

Why did you choose a degree in history? I chose to study history in part because of being enthralled by the world of Tolkien.  when I was a kid, my cousin read The Hobbit to me and I remember being fascinated by the world he created.  As I got older I started to wonder what real people or events inspired him.  Later, having ventured pretty far down the rabbit hole, I realized I love digging for answers and trying to piece together how and why people lived the way they did.  I think some of it had to do with wanting to be like Indiana Jones.  Maybe someday... What are you doing now? Currently I am pursing masters degrees in Library Science and History at Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis.  I have a part-time job in a local library and also an internship at the Indiana Historical Society working in the press.  The history part of my degree will focus on European history.  This semester I am working on a project exploring social mobility of a family in Early Modern England via their choice of burial location. How have your history studies helped you in life? In practical ways, studying history…

John “Jack” Verhayden, Class of 2017

Why did you choose a degree in history? I chose a degree in history initially because of my experiences in high school.  It was always my best subject and something that I thought might be interesting to continue.  The reason I chose to continue onto graduate school in History is because of my great professors at Valpo.  From my first days on campus, I had great mentors like Professor Carter and I had the opportunity to take innovative and compelling classes such as Professor Elder's History of American Slavery through Film.  From my professors, I gained more of a love of history and decided to continue my studies. What are you doing now? I am now a Ph.D. student at Mississippi State. How have your history studies helped you in life? My history studies have helped me to deal with questions that we are all dealing with as Americans; such as what do we do with statues of Confederate veterans?  What is your favorite memory associated with the Valpo History Department? I would say my favorite memory would have to have come from Professor Xia's History of East Asian Crime through Film.  During one of my classes we had the opportunity to…

Megan Smith, Class of 2008

What are you doing now? I am working In South Korea with E.P.I.K (English Program in Korea) as an English as a Second Language teacher.  I've been here since October of 2012, and I currently work at three small elementary schools in rural Sancheong-gun County, about 45 minutes north of the southern coast. How have your history studies helped you in life? I have a much more well rounded outlook.  Taking courses in the history of the wider world humbles a person and gives them a more complex understanding of other cultures and customs.  I realize the difference history has made in my life wheneverI decided to teach overseas.  History has always been an interest of mine, but teaching in a foreign country has only accentuated that interest.

Harold Mobley, Class of 1971

Why did you choose history? I truly believe that the roots of the present are deep in the past.  Learning about when, where, and why has always fascinated me. What are you doing now? I retired from Norfolk Southern Corporation as Vice President of Labor Relations in March 2012. How have your history studies helped you in life? I spent 30 years of my career in labor relations, a discipline which requires a tremendous amount of research, analysis and reporting–sounds just like history at work, doesn't it?  Most importantly, history has helped me to understand people around me.

Brandon Miller, Class of 2011

Why did you choose history? As a youth, my interest in history was very strong.  I was very much a storyteller at heart. What are you doing now? Following graduation I found employment at the Constitutional Walking Tour Company in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. With this company, I gave guided walking tours of the city's historic districts.  Now I am work as the Assistant Director of Education at the Brandywine Battlefield Park Associates, a nonprofit dedicated to the operation and general upkeep of a former Pennsylvania State Park.  My many responsibilities include booking educational groups, media and social media marketing, and the development of "living history" events. What is your best memory of history at Valpo? I recall being allowed into the archive at the Christopher Center, where our historiography class was able to handle documents and books that date all the way back to the Reformation. Quite an exciting day!

Katie Burakowski, Class of 2004

Why did you choose a degree in history? After three semesters in another major I realized that I was unhappy and wanted a change.  I felt lost and didn't know exactly where to go.  I happened to be enrolled in Professor Bloom's African American History class to satisfy a general education requirement and I really enjoyed his instruction as well as the course content.  We developed a great relationship and started engaging in conversations about my academic career and future goals.  It was through these conversations that I realized how welcome I felt in the department and also how invested the faculty were in my success. What are you doing now? I am currently an assistant professor of sports management at St. John Fisher College in Rochester, NY. How have your history studies helped you in life? My experience in history has helped me to understand the context of developments in sport. For example, it's impossible to talk about Title IX and its implications for sports without having a working knowledge of mid-century American culture.  My background in history also helps me to highlight the importance and usefulness of a liberal arts education for my students. What would you want a prospective major to know about history at Valpo?…

Charles “Chip” Brehmer, Class of 1989

What are you doing now? I am a judge of the Superior Court of California. I realize the difference my history studies have made in my life... On a regular basis, as I read and digest complicated information and formulate a rationale for significant decisions based upon that information. What is your best memory associated with the Valpo History Department? Learning about Asian history and especially the various world views that shaped decisions in what is now the most populous region on earth.

Amber Will, Class of 2012

What are you doing now? I just finished my first of four years at the College of William and Mary, where I'm working on a Masters in Public Policy as well as my Juris Doctor. What is your best memory associated with the Valpo history department? During a History of Homelessness class with Professor Bloom, we got to take two mini field trips in order to help us understand the experience of homelessness in Valpo.  We went to both a temporary housing center and a day shelter to talk with the coordinators, and even met some of the people.  That experience helped change my perspective and recognize my own implicit biases towards the homeless.  I have since volunteered at the homeless shelter program in Williamsburg, Virginia, and talked about my experiences with many people who shared my previous stereotypes about the homeless.  I am very thankful for these experiences and for being able to work with Professor Bloom on a subsequent thesis. Any additional comments? I will forever be amazed at Professor Ostoyich's lectures.  Not once did he look at notes and not once did he pause.  He is truly a phenomenal professor that challenged me and helped me realize my…

Nathan Press, Class of 2005

What are you doing now? I am the Social Media Community Manager for Family Express Corporation in Valparaiso. How have your history studies figured into your life since graduation? The two skills that I directly attribute to my history degree are my writing ability and my problem solving skills.  In the business world, these two skills have been invaluable in helping me to communicate, solve complex problems, and advance in my career. What is your best memory associated with the history department at Valpo? Without a doubt, the time I spent in Professor Bloom's History of Sports in America class.  It was a class that made me think critically about something that I had always loved and gave me a new perspective on sports.  It has also blossomed into a friendship with a professor, whom I have stayed in contact with for the past eight years and whom I have asked for advice and discussed business issues with in even just the last year.

Dorothy Drummond, Class of 1949

Why did you choose a degree in history? I was looking for a discipline that would help me to understand my place in the world. Eventually, I combined history and geography, so that my worldview now combines time and place. What are you doing now? I'm about to rewrite (3rd edition, revised) my book, Holy Land, Whose Land?  Modern Dilemma, Ancient Roots.  I'm retired from the geography department of Indiana State University.  I continue to dabble in topics that interest me, most of which apply both history and geography.  In recent years I've also planned and facilitated tours of three to four weeks duration, for both teachers and others, to China, Australia, New Zealand, India, Turkey, Chili, Peru, and Namibia. What is your best memory of history at Valpo? In the days before audio-visual equipment was available, Dr. Schweibert would chalk on the board complicated diagrams of his own conception, providing horizontal linking of movements and people.  I still remember those diagrams, in concept if not in detail.  He taught European history and in particular the history of the Reformation.

Ben Lieske, Class of 2006

What are you doing now? I teach US and World History, as well as Psychology, at Valparaiso High School. I realize the difference my history studies have made in my life whenever... I have an anecdote about a place on a road trip that typically causes my wife to roll her eyes...On a deeper level, every so often as a teacher you have a moment where you know you have impacted a student.  It might be with a fun fact, or a different perspective on a common historical narrative, or just a story that happens to resonate.  But when one of those moments happens, I know it is often the result of my history training at VU. What is your best memory associated with history at Valpo? The professors.  At VU, the professors tend to be very friendly, passionate, open, and accessible.  The history department is the epitome of that concept.  The faculty are always willing to help any student with even the most trivial of issues.  They are extremely friendly and will often organize opportunities to meet up socially.