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 the historical community and world, as well as peaking my intellectual interest in a generally fascinating field. My interest also grew during my senior seminar with Professor Ostoyich; where I was able to really dive into the world of coded racial rhetoric by conservative politicians. Being exposed to this topic in both the classroom and in my own faculty guided research at Valpo provided for eye-opening learning that helped guide me to my current research. I would be remiss if I did not note that the historical training I received at Valpo in my field of American conservatism, as well as in the practice of being a historian, well prepared me for my current graduate study. As I have quickly realized, graduate school, like all new experiences, is a great challenge, but my undergraduate training at Valpo has left me feeling well prepared in my studies at Miami.
What are your best memories associated with the Valpo history department?
I greatly enjoyed the history classes I took at Valpo, as well as the relationships I was able to build with other students and professors, as a result of my classes. From talking about the role of police in hip hop in Professor Carter’s “Hip Hop America” course, to solving the Israel Palestine conflict in Professor Schaefer’s “Modern Middle East” course, and everything in between, studying history at Valpo afforded me the opportunity to look at the world from a wide variety of different perspectives. These sorts of experiences and conversations have been instrumental in helping shape my understanding of history, and helped me to become a more informed and better citizen. The aforementioned classes are but a few examples of the history course I took at Valpo; and it would not be an exaggeration to say that I greatly enjoyed and benefited from every history class i took at Valpo.
What would you want a prospective major to know about history at Valpo?
Being a history major at Valpo is a really great and enjoyable experience, and I cannot say enough about the program and the department. The major will challenge and push you to your intellectual limits, but in a manner where you are constantly provided with the support you need. I would encourage anyone interested in the major to jump right in and take a broad swath of courses, and challenge yourself in courses that might be a little outside your general interest. Who knows, yo might surprise yourself and discovery a passion in a historical sphere you never imagined yourself studying. Best of luck to anyone pursuing a history degree at Valpo, it is an awesome experience and opens you to world of possibilities after Valpo that you will be more than prepared for!