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Undergraduate Alumni

Korbin Painter '18

 Korbin is a current student majoring in history and Germanic studies and minoring in classics.The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences made a video of  Korbin discussing his work on lesbian women in Nazi German,  a research project on queer theory and 19th century German Literature, and makes some really nice points at the beginning about the value of interdisciplinary study and towards the end about the importance of studying history in general


Trent Boultinghouse, '11

Trent BoultinghouseMy post-graduate life began in the spring of 2012 after I defended an original honors thesis on Southeast Kansas socialism. Shortly thereafter, with idealism and political interest at an all-time high, I moved to Washington, D.C. to begin a writing internship at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA), a renowned think tank covering hemispheric issues and Latin American – United States relations.

At COHA, my favorite pieces included a primer on Venezuela’s 2012 presidential elections, a recommendation for changes in the Obama administration’s Latin American policy, and an analysis of scandal in the Costa Rican judiciary. My work received national publication in outlets ranging from the Eurasia Review to e-International Relations, a journal on regional trade. 

In March, I accepted an offer to become a defense contractor for the United States government. The KU history department’s competence in contextualizing the realities of contemporary politics and government has served as an invaluable tool in this new position. Moreover, my professors’ insistence upon sound research and writing formed the basis for the analytical skills I use on the job.

Intelligent people warned me against majoring in History during an uncertain economic climate. From my perch today, however, I think the degree is a big reason for where I am currently.


Luke Brinker, '12

Luke BrinkerShortly after graduating in May 2012, I moved to Chicago. I continued my studies there in the Master of Arts Program in the Social Sciences at the University of Chicago. While in Hyde Park, I completed a thesis examining the backlash against American multiculturalism in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.

In addition to my academic pursuits in Chicago, I wrote a biweekly column for The Chicago Maroon, opining on topics like the 2012 presidential race, climate change, and the state of humanities education. I also wrote on such issues as workplace safety and union organizing for In These Times, a national political publication based in Chicago.

This June, I completed my MA at the University of Chicago. Two days after graduation, I set out for Washington, D.C., where I now live and work as a researcher and writer for Equality Matters, the LGBT rights division of Media Matters for America, a media watchdog organization. My work at Media Matters benefits greatly from the research skills, analytical writing abilities, and social insight that I cultivated as a history student at KU.


Anna Gregory-Barrett, '05

Anna Gregory-BarrettI loved the characters and the stories in history classes at KU, but I never thought the lessons I learned there would be helpful later in life. I was wrong.

After graduating from KU, I applied for Teach For America and was placed in DC. Teaching is the hardest job I’ve ever had.  After a few years, I decided to leave the classroom, but my years of teaching have defined my career.  My classroom experience proved to me that every child, regardless of race, background or circumstance, can achieve at high levels. In order for this to happen, schools must provide an excellent education to all students.  Unfortunately, this isn’t the case in most low-income communities.

In a great 20th century American history course at KU, I studied the civil rights movement.  Although the country was ripe for change, it was individuals who stood up to draw attention to inequities and who questioned authority, causing the rest of the county to question their actions and beliefs.  Education is the civil rights issue of our time, and teachers are the individuals who serve on the front line. I went to Princeton University for graduate school to learn more about public policy, especially in education, so that I could better understand the systems (and the barriers) to changing our failing schools.  The inability to find and keep great teaching talent is one of the key barriers to creating and maintaining good schools.

I’m back at DC Public Schools, and my job is to support our team in finding, growing, and keeping great talent in schools. As Chief of Staff in the Office of Human Capital, I work to support our mission – to ensure we have the most effective teachers, principals, and Central Office staff to provide an excellent education to students in the DC.

At KU, I wrote my senior honors thesis on the battle of the Cornfield Mall in downtown Lawrence.  Over the course of a year, I spent time in city council archives, interviewed Lawrencians, and read all about the history of urban development and malls.  I thought about malls morning, noon, and night for that year. I don’t think much about the Cornfield Mall anymore, but the skills acquired in that research and writing have proven to be great gifts over the years – and are emblematic of my entire history course work.

Concretely, my coursework at KU, gave me opportunities to become a better writer.  My senior thesis advisor, Jeff Moran, was never frugal when it came to feedback and edits. He pushed me to think and write more clearly.   That work proved to be good training for the writing and re-writing (and re-writing) I do now when I prepare memos for the Chancellor and leadership team.

The critical thinking and curiosity required to be a good history student have been useful in every job I’ve had.  History classes helped me make connections between events, people, and places. I still look for those connections in my work.  My job is to solve problems, to remove barriers to progress, to see a new path.  In order to do that, I need to understand the past – and draw the right conclusions – to plan for the future. 


Taylor Hersh, '13

Taylor Hersh

I completed my undergraduate degree at KU in May 2013 and majored in History and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.  I earned honors in both departments by completing a senior thesis that explores the impacts of feminine space on Teresa of Avila's religious experience. 

This spring, I was accepted into the graduate program at KU.  I am excited to study early modern Spanish history and have Professor Luis Corteguera and Professor Marta Vicente as advisors.  My undergraduate courses and instructors not only fueled my passion for studying history, they provided me with excellent preparation for scholarship at the graduate level.




Cory Lagerstrom, '94

Cory Lagerstrom


I am both President and Senior Team Lead at Frontier Wealth Management, LLC, which was founded in August of 2007. We concentrate on providing financial planning and investment management to individuals as well as small businesses. Prior to co-founding Frontier, I was a principal and a senior advisor at Aspen Wealth Management.

While attending the University of Kansas, I received a Bachelor of Arts degree in History. My emphasis was Modern European History from the French Revolution to present. My degree in History prepared me to succeed in graduate school. I also received my Juris Doctorate and Masters in Business Administration from the University of Kansas. I directly attribute my current success to the University of Kansas. Outside of work, I am married with three children and enjoy watching college basketball and the outdoors.




Emily Pinkerton, '10

Emily Pinkerton, left, with an 8th-grade student in Compton, Los Angeles.


After graduating with a degree in history, I joined Teach for America (TFA). TFA is a two-year program that is committed to raising student achievement levels in low-income schools. I am currently a TFA alumna and stayed past my two-year commitment. I teach 4th grade on the east side of Kansas City, Missouri. I work in a community where 100% of the students are on free or reduced lunch and backpacks of food are handed out to each child as they exit the school every Friday. 

The environment is challenging to say the least, however the children and staff that I work with make coming to work a rewarding experience. I am thankful I chose history as my major. My degree prepared me for the struggles I faced in a rigorous teaching program. The research, writing, and critical thinking skills fostered a culture of hard work and dedication. Furthermore the program is unique with professors that are welcoming and mentored me throughout my undergrad. Each one fostered a curiosity in learning that I hope I continue with each of my 4th grade scholars.  




Stephen B Riegg, '09

I graduated from KU’s History Department in 2009, with training in writing and historical analysis honed by the department’s distinguished scholars. The honors thesis that I wrote under the direction of Professors Eve Levin and Luis Corteguera sharpened my skills as an aspiring historian, paving the way for a seamless transition into the history doctoral program at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Having recently completed the PhD, I can say confidently that the education I received at KU’s History Department established the foundation for my continuing academic and professional advancement.

The work I produced in graduate school reflected the lessons I learned at KU. In my master’s thesis I applied some of the strategies I developed while writing my honors thesis, such as analyzing primary sources and making cogent arguments. Next, I won research fellowships from Fulbright, Fulbright-Hays, Mellon/CLIR, and American Councils for International Education. Thanks to this support, I conducted fifteen months of archival research in Russia and Armenia for my doctoral dissertation, which I recently finished.  

Studying history at KU will prepare you to succeed in a remarkably broad range of professional paths. Learning to write clearly and persuasively, to analyze and synthesize diverse sources, and to think critically about the past and the present are skills demanded by employers from Silicon Valley to Capitol Hill. Whether you aspire to continue your education in graduate school or to launch a career immediately, the preparation you will receive at KU’s History Department will set a strong foundation for lasting success.    


Chantz Thomas, '11

I came to the History Department in search of critical thinking skills, writing development, and historical perspective to complement my studies in science. During my four year degree, I was awarded not only with these vital career-building attributes, but also with humanities training that enriches my daily life and allows me to contribute to the world in unique and exciting ways.

While my undergraduate studies focused on the history of science and medicine in America, the broader abilities that I honed with KU History are amongst my most prized as I pursue a career outside of academic history. After graduation, I headed to California for an internship with NASA – an adventure that demanded contributions from both my training in science and in history. I then spent two years as part of a Medical Scientist Training Program at the University of Washington in Seattle, honing expertise that will allow me to contribute to emerging applications of biomedical research.

Currently, I am pursuing a PhD in Chemistry at UW and am also a member of UW’s Astrobiology Program. The opening of my graduate school experience has taken me through a tremendous breadth of experiences including conducting groundbreaking protein design research, competing in the Caltech Space Challenge, helping to care for patients in a research hospital, delivering my first guest lecture, and learning from dozens of famous scientists, astronauts, and other STEM leaders.

KU History is a catalyst for a diverse future of study and accomplishment after college. Pursuits in history, science, policy, or business will be well-served by a thorough grounding in historical study.

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