Highlights of Alumni Who Majored in History
Anselmians all over the country work as teachers, reporters, dentists, public relations and human resources professionals, librarians, and historians. Meet a few:
Casey Breslin was drawn to a history major he says because he spent much of his childhood listening to the Sharpe series on long commutes with his dad and going to Civil War battlefields. (The Sharpe series of books followed fictional British soldier Richard Sharpe through the bloody Napoleonic Wars). Understanding and interpreting the past became a passion, and he was especially interested American legal history to prepare for law school someday.
The class of 2011 graduated in the middle of the modern era's worst recession, and plans for law school were put on the back burner. But by August, Casey had a job as an analyst at a major financial industry regulator. He considered this a good stepping stone towards law school and the general field of compliance. He used the detail-orientation that served him well, reading primary sources to help him track trade reports, and he used problem solving skills to resolve compliance issues between market participants.
The tough job market meant Casey learned rapidly what it took to move from one job to another, he explains.
I have gained lots of insights into how to make a complicated world smaller and simpler-because I had to. Every job seeker gets rejected sometimes no matter what their major. But my networking skills got me my current position which has been great and rewarding. Also Saint A's students don't know how much of a leg up they have in their ability to write well.
For the last 3 years, Casey has been an educational programs specialist at the Association for Financial Professionals in Bethesda, MD (just north of Washington, DC). He works with banks, consultants, and corporate training vendors to provide educational programs for financial professionals. Each professional needs a certain number of "professional development hours" to maintain their certification and Casey ensures that the programs are "interesting, relevant, and high-quality."
Casey says he still enjoys thinking about American history in his spare time. You can see his blog entry on Memory in the Former Confederate Capital of Richmond, Va.
History majors end up in a wide variety of careers because they have skills that can work in almost any industry. Financial services may not seem the most obvious path for some, but Casey says it has worked out very well for him.
Derek Dufresne worked through a lot of indecision before he finally landed on a major in History. He transferred to Saint Anselm after his freshman year because he says he longed for the small class sizes and personal interactions with professors. Derek dabbled in different departments, including business, politics, and even pre-med. He says he finally realized that instead of focusing so much on an end result he was not sure of, he should study what he loves and his "career would shape itself around that premise."
An internship at Manchester, New Hampshire with Mayor Frank Guinta's office opened the door to employment in Washington, D.C. when Mayor Guinta was elected to Congress. Once in Congressman Guinta's office, Derek worked his way up the ladder to become the communications director. He says that some of the most rewarding parts of this career were the opportunities he had to draft legislation that was later voted on in Congress. He then went on to co-found RightOn Strategies, a national political consulting firm that serves a variety of clients including political candidates and advocacy groups.
Derek believes that learning from the past has allowed him to refine his perspective on the modern-day decisions that are shaping the future of our country. He highlights the significant correlation between history and contemporary politics and diplomacy.
"A love of history in the classroom is the perfect fit for a future career of contributing to history through politics or government work."
Derek realizes the importance of taking risks and encourages students to explore many different interests and take advantage of experiential learning. He believes his story shows that the best way to participate in the history of the future is to understand the history of the past.
Justin Eckilson came to Saint Anselm undeclared. Having positive experiences in high-school history classes, he decided to take a history elective his freshman year. He liked the classes and the professors so much that he became a history major at the beginning of his sophomore year and "has never looked back."
Justin was drawn to teaching but also to museum work. To learn more about his options, he participated in numerous internships and projects. During the summer after his sophomore year, he developed programming for young people about local Civil War figures for the National Park Service at the John H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor. During his senior year, he did a class project researching and transcribing documents about women's roles during the Civil War. He worked with museum educators at the New Hampshire Historical Society, and his materials became part of the museum's curriculum for high-school advanced placement history classes. While allowing him to explore his interest in museum work, Justin says these experiences also exposed him to the diverse world of education outside the classroom.
What finally helped me decide that I preferred teaching in a classroom was a Winter Break Alternative service-trip to Camden, N.J. that I took my junior year. I realized that sharing my love of history and all the lessons it provides was the best way I could continue to serve others and reach those who need it most.
After graduation, Justin joined the Providence Alliance for Catholic Teaching (PACT) program at Providence College. This program is specifically designed for students who did not obtain a teaching certificate but who want to pursue a career in education. He says it allows him to work full time in a middle-school social studies classroom during the academic year, and to take classes to complete his M.Ed. during the summers. After two years, he explains that he will have his Master's Degree plus invaluable teaching experience in lower-income Catholic schools.
From an early age, Jessica Ewald was always interested in history. She says her father had been a history major in college, and they often talked about how the past could be used to interpret the present and potentially forecast the future. When she arrived at Saint Anselm College, there was no question in her mind that she would major in history.
A semester spent abroad in Salzburg, Austria led Jessica to develop a "greater appreciation for international relations and America's place in the world." Inspired by this experience, she pursued graduate studies at the prestigious London School of Economics and Political Science. In 2014, she obtained Master of Science in the History of International Relations. The school's motto is "rerum cognoscere causas" ("to know the causes of things"), and it was in this spirit that she has pursued her love of history, she explains.
Jessica is now a Quality Analyst for Due Diligence at Dow Jones. Her position requires her to search a vast array of databases and sources, compile and verify reports in a direct, concise manner, and to accomplish these tasks thoroughly and efficiently to meet deadlines.
Jessica finds that her study of history has proven tremendously valuable. As she puts it,
A history major must develop research, analytical, and writing skills that many other majors do not offer. The major demands that a researcher place oneself in a historical context while maintaining an objective and critical mindset; copious amounts of information must be evaluated and the findings presented in a clear and concise manner.
According to Jessica, the history curriculum at Saint Anselm College not only nurtured her interest in the subject but also provided her with the skills to pursue a career.
Katrina Fahy is able to work directly with historical primary sources as a researcher at the New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston. Each day she tackles research requests from individuals who want to know more about their family history. She usually searches through numerous genealogical records to piece together the history ancestor by ancestor, and says that the sources available to her allow for more in-depth research than a simple query on Ancestry.com will provide.
Part of her job is knowing where to look for the information, she says. While New England has plenty of marriage, birth and death records, Katrina also has to search probate and land records as well as secondary sources.
You are often required to think outside of the box and use the information provided to make genealogical connections, which I think a liberal arts education really helps you to do.
Katrina also believes that her history background allowed her to develop important writing skills that are essential in her profession. The knowledge from her history classes allows her to place the individuals she studies in a historical context, and to recognize widespread patterns that apply at the individual level.
While at St. Anselm, Katrina did an internship through the history department with the New Hampshire Historical Association in Concord, NH. She constructed biographies of New Hampshire quilt makers as well as transcribing a mid-nineteenth century New Hampshire diary and creating an educational program based on its contents. The genealogical work she did on the quilt makers was a huge benefit in choosing and obtaining her current job, she says.
Katherine (Katie) Muzzy started at Saint Anselm College as a politics major, excited about the opportunities that the New Hampshire Institute of Politics could provide. However, on the first day of freshman orientation she switched her major to American Studies. She explains that the SAC Passages trip that allowed her to explore the history and culture of Gettysburg inspired her to change her major. Katie says she was happy with the variety of courses her major had to offer and decided to further her education by adding minors in Gender Studies and Sociology.
After graduation, Katie entered law school at the University of New Hampshire, where she received a Warren Rudman Fellowship that financially supports her desire to serve others.
I chose law school because I want to help survivors of domestic and sexual violence. I don't yet know exactly what type of law career I will have, but I'm excited to take advantage of every opportunity I can while at UNH Law.
Working her personal commitments into her academic work at Saint Anselm, Katie wrote her senior thesis on the first federal legislation that funded domestic violence shelters.
She attributes her success at Saint Anselm to her participation on the debate team, along with Coach Dave Trumble helping her to develop skills as a researcher and a writer. She also benefitted from internships with both the YWCA's crisis hotline and the Public Policy team of the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. Katie says she loved all of her internships, though her favorite one was with the Coalition: "It helped reaffirm my life path and led me to law school."
Katie is now a police attorney for the Nashua Police Department. She works with witnesses, defendants, judges, and other attorneys to prepare for trials and hearings. She says the interdisciplinary nature of the American Studies major helped to prepare her for this position.
After spending family vacations wandering historic sites such as George Washington's Mount Vernon and Franklin D. Roosevelt's Hyde Park, Lauren Weybrew says she knew that she loved history and wanted to make it a part of her life. She says she enthusiastically chose to major in history, but had one reservation: "I knew I did not want to teach, so I spent time considering other careers."
An internship at the college's Office of Communications and Marketing sparked her interest in the communication field. Her first post-college jobs were with strategic communications firms in New York City, including four years spent working exclusively with nonprofits and foundations.
Lauren believes that her history degree has thoroughly prepared her for her writing-intensive career.
"My first jobs required digesting dense, technical information (medical information, legal information, etc.), and repackaging it into easy-to-read content for a wide variety of audiences. All of the reading and processing I did in college prepared me for that in a way I didn't expect. Plus, all of the writing helped a great deal as well!"
Lauren encourages history students to think outside the box and take advantage of the flexibility and versatility the history major provides.
She recently took an exciting new position as the Assistant Public Relations Director at the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. She is helping to engage Americans in UNICEF's work to put children first, through media relations, regional events and some exciting campaigns, including Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF, the longest running youth volunteer initiative in America. And she explains that UNICEF is steeped in history, and many pivotal historical moments, making it an exciting place to work every day.
I chose to minor in history because I had credits from high school that could be applied here and I just really love the subject. The biggest skill/benefit from having a history minor is learning to apply concepts to the past. Being an Economics and Finance major, much of the material learned in a contemporary American history class can be applied to economic and financial situations. I also think the amount of writing required in most history classes benefited me as a writer in my other courses at Saint Anselm. It definitely was great to have some diversity in my schedule as well and be able to study something much different than what you would find in an Economics/Finance course. My experience with the history department was great. Challenging, yet completely useful!
I minored in history because, while I did not think I wanted a career specifically in history, I have always been fascinated by history and I believe that everyone should know history. My history minor was a great break from my biology and heavy science courses. The skills I acquired from my history classes were definitely a huge benefit. The history minor increased my critical reasoning skills and improved my overall reading abilities. I wish I had had the opportunity to take more.
Asian Studies Minors
I minored in Asian Studies because I think learning about other cultures and histories is very important in the current global market. The Asian Studies minor was also a good way to reflect on my own American culture and beliefs. I was able to connect Asian Studies to Chemistry through my research. I researched the chemical and cultural backgrounds of two ancient Chinese pigments (studying how they would have been made in ancient China, who may have made them, synthesizing the pigments myself, and analyzing them using spectroscopy). This was very interesting to me, and a good break from the "standard" chemistry classes. It has also inspired me to try and do something similar in the future.
The biggest benefit I got from the Asian Studies minor is a better understanding of eastern cultures. The way Asian civilizations think and reason is very different from that of Western cultures. The minor enriched my criminal justice major as I looked to apply what I learned. I focus on cyber security and cybercrime. Right now, Asia has some of the highest development in the cyber world. By understanding the histories, philosophies, and cultures of Asia, I am able to better understand the mentality of the people in that region and apply that to my investigations.
The Asian Studies minor gave me the opportunity to explore the diverse world of Asian culture, history, and language. This course of study was relevant to my major in Marketing because it exposed me to the values of countries with which I might have to do business in the future. As a result, I can create meaning and value for targeted consumers. For example, the minor made it possible for me to connect with the culture and history of the Japanese pharmaceutical company for which I interned; it allowed me to stand out from other candidates when interviewing for the position since I understood the company’s beliefs and ideals. As part of the Asian Studies minor, I took Chinese language courses and developed a loving of learning Mandarin. I know this skill will enhance my ability to communicate with both customers and employees in Asia.
American Studies Minor
As a double major in politics and communication I have been able to learn about how our country and society functions, but not our history. As an American Studies minor I am able to learn about the past that has shaped our nation. It wasn't until I took my American Studies class that I got the opportunity to read and analyze the thoughts behind important documents in our nation's history such as the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and Declaration of Independence.
Many people think they do not have the time for a minor. But with American studies, many of the courses from other majors or minors overlap with the requirements of the American Studies minor. In addition, there is some room to choose which classes you would like to take to fulfill the minor.
If David Stamatis had not majored in History, he probably would have become an English or Philosophy major. But during his high school years, David liked his history courses the best. Not only that, but he was drawn to history because people’s behavior and motives always fascinated him, and he could think of no better way to investigate these issues than through the lens of the past. At the same time, he believed, history helped explained why the world is the way it is today. As he puts it, he majored in History because, “The past provides the answer.”
After graduating from Saint Anselm College in 2012, David attended the University of New Hampshire’s Franklin Pierce School of Law. He thinks that majoring in History helped him immensely during his law school years. His History classes at Saint Anselm College placed an emphasis on writing, and he received a great deal of feedback on his essays from the faculty. Over time, he was better able to “make succinct points quickly and with persuasive effect”—skills that stood him in good stead in law school. As David puts it, “In a curious way, being a lawyer is very similar to being a student at its most basic levels. You have an opinion. If you want to convince someone of that opinion, you have to back it up with facts obtained from verified sources. Then, you have to create a cohesive argument based upon those sources. Frequently, you have to write out that argument and present it orally.”
Today David is an Associate Attorney at Parnell, Michels & McKay, PLLC in Londonderry, NH. He works primarily in family law and bankruptcy matters, but he also helps out other attorneys by doing legal research, generating draft memoranda of law, producing legal briefs, and writing motions.
David has this to say to aspiring History majors: “There is not a day that goes by where I do not learn something new. The best advice I can give is that you need to challenge yourself. To put it brusquely, know that you know nothing, and seek to learn from that knowledge. Take the challenging class or challenging professor. Get advice and feedback from those classes and professors, and apply it to your writing. You are paying to be at a wonderful, challenging place for four years; make sure you get something out of it. If you don’t, you are doing yourself a disservice.”