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 interview a member of a triad gang and learn some ins and outs of modern gangs.  That’s a conversation that I never thought I would have and it was a great experience made possible by Valpo.

What would you want a prospective major to know about history at Valpo?

My advice to prospective majors is to pick your professors’ brains.  We have professors that have Ph.Ds from Harvard, Notre Dame, Emory, and Oregon, just to name a few, and who are publishing books.  At no other time in your life will you have free access to discuss your ideas and to learn from people with this pedigree of knowledge, so take advantage!

If you want to go to grad school, my advice is to get your name out there the best you can.  Email people at schools you are interested in going to and tell them your interests.  I got into Mississippi State because a professor liked my work and wanted to be a part of it; so get your work out there!