B.A. in History and Philosophy, 2007
I came to Drake as a committed history major, but I was originally more interested in pursuing a J.D. than a Ph.D. Through my time as a member of the history department, my passion for historical interpretation grew, ultimately leading to my decision to pursue a doctorate. My first push toward graduate school came from a moment of failure. I was shocked to get a C on my “Passages to the Modern World” midterm. I had a 4.0 in high school! But it turned out that I didn’t really know how to read an historian’s argument. After Prof. Adams walked me through the readings, I was more passionate about the insights that a historian could bring to enduring questions about labor and power.
As a sophomore, I spent a semester as a research assistant for Prof. Symonds. At first, my task of transcribing the court records from a sixteenth-century Scottish murder trial was incredibly tedious. But I quickly saw the drama of the past. It was like an episode of Law & Order playing out before me. Not only did this experience improve my ability to decipher archaic handwriting, I also got a first-hand look at the building blocks of historical interpretation.
During my junior year, Prof. Leroux took me under her wing and guided me on my first major original project. I got to pick some of my favorite writings by Thomas Paine and Mary Wollstonecraft and develop an argument about the meaning of liberty at a critical point in European history. I even presented the paper at the Missouri Valley History Conference. At this point, I was hooked on historical research and analysis. I knew I wanted to continue pursuing history at an advanced level.
My capstone class with Prof. Cardwell solidified my mastery of all the tools I would need to be successful as a graduate student. Set loose in the published records of American foreign policy, I was able to carve out a small, but compelling argument about U.S. diplomacy during World War I.
Drake University’s history department was not just instrumental in my journey to the doctoral program at Washington University; it was critical to my development as a scholar, as a teacher, and an advocate for history.
B.A. in History, 2014
My experience as a history major at Drake was enriching and life-changing. When I began the history major, I finally understood what it meant to work hard and sincerely enjoy that work, even during stressful moments. My professors challenged me to look beyond the obvious in order to scrutinize and analyze historical data and resources, and to find hidden connections. They also showed me that the field of history is truly lively and full of debate. More importantly, my history classes introduced multiple interpretations, encouraged me to come to my own conclusions, and to make my own historical arguments through debates, exams, and papers. The skills I've developed help me think critically and communicate effectively with people in the world around me.
I found that being a history major at Drake is more than just a lecture and an exam grade. Professors and students are both engaged, which opens the door to meaningful connections and outstanding opportunities. I personally have come to know my professors as individuals beyond the classroom and remain in touch even after graduating. Furthermore, those connections have had a profound impact on my life. I worked with one of my professors to set up an internship as a National History Day tutor at Brody Middle School. There, I guided middle schoolers' historical research in preparation for the National History Day competition. My advisor also had a profound impact with a little comment. Knowing I had taken a Chinese language course and several Asian history courses, he suggested I look into Drake's Teach in China program. Well, soon I will be spending a year in China!
Drake gave me the opportunity to gain an education through its generosity, but I gained so much more than that from my Drake experience.
B.A. in History, Sociology minor and Women's Studies Concentration, 2014
When I started at Drake I was not a History major, but in my first class of my first semester, I found a new love: American History. After switching majors I realized how great my decision was. Not only were the classes intriguing and challenging, but also the professors helped me to look at historical issues and the process of history in ways that I had never before considered. The classes I took helped to deepen and broaden my understanding of historical problems but also refined and sharpened my analytical abilities.
The benefits of my history major extended way beyond classroom involvement, though. Through Phi Alpha Theta, the Historical Honors Fraternity at Drake, I was able to develop new talents and a confidence in my knowledge and abilities that I would never have had without the Drake History Department. I was member, Treasurer, and President and between those positions, I was able to help create fun internal events for the society and department as well as a campus wide event for a guest speaker.
What I found during my time as a history major is that the relationships I developed with the students and faculty of the History Department really helped me while at Drake. Well, I’ve just recently graduated and I know that those relationships will continue and that they will be great for support, advice, and friendship.