Profiles of Undergraduate Alumni
Katherine Schroeder '20
Like many, my interest in history began when I was young. I grew up an avid reader, imaginer, and fact-collector. I liked to know all of the things I could about any topic that sparked my interest: the essential who, what, when, where, why, and how. Eventually, as I gained new knowledge and perspectives, those simple, discrete facts twisted and turned in unexpected ways. At KU, I finally learned to dig into the past, untangle connections, and ask big questions.
As a history student, I found a network to support, teach, and challenge me. A strength of the department was its interdisciplinary learning, which enriched class discussions with my peers and led me to add a minor in environmental studies. My professors’ encouragement and the department’s assistance also helped me fulfill my dream of studying abroad, and I spent Fall 2019 in Cork, Ireland. My studies combined in my capstone paper on the environmental history of the Irish Land War.
Experiences outside the classroom were also crucial to my education. I completed several internships as an undergraduate, at the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the National Register of Historic Places, and the International Relations Council of Kansas City. My long hours in the Watson Library stacks even helped me land a part-time job there! Each role utilized my history background, building on my skills in research, writing, organization, communication, narrative-building, and cross-cultural understanding.
I graduated in Spring 2020 and jumped into my career as a nonprofit professional. I recently began my role as the Communications and Development Coordinator for Thrive Allen County, a Southeast Kansas nonprofit dedicated to rural health and development. I am grateful for the time I spent with KU History, and I take pride in my degree that expanded my horizons.
Miranda Ganter '18
History had always been something that piqued my interest throughout my primary and secondary education. It came specifically from my desire to hear and share stories. It has always been important for me to recognize whose stories seemed to carry more weight and whose stories seemed to vanish. I used the history course catalog as a map to uncover some of the voices that I felt were underrepresented and forgotten. History allowed me the flexibility to not be restricted to one region of the world or one framework of looking at conflict. History at the University of Kansas has never been about memorizing dates but looking at flaws and conquests of our predecessors and visualizing our own roles in humanity.
After graduating in the Spring of 2018, I am currently completing my Masters in Peace and Conflict Resolution and Mediterranean Security from George Mason University and the University of Malta. It is a program dedicated to looking at how policy makers and activists look at the “global migration” crisis as well as how environmental, economic, and legal systems all effect conflict and resolution. The plethora of knowledge and support that was provided by the University of Kansas’ history department is the only reason I have the writing skills and global consciousness to be successful in a program like this one.
Eventually, I will use both my Undergraduate and Masters degrees to advocate for the needs of refugees and migrants whether that is through non-profits or government organizations. I would not be where I am today without the dedicated, passionate, and brilliant minds of the University of Kansas’ History department.
Korbin Painter '18
I came to KU in 2014 as a history-loving, first-generation college student. I took several history courses during my freshman year and knew that I had made the right choice. I majored in History and German studies, and also branched out into Classics and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality studies.
In my experience, professors in the History department and other related departments are extremely helpful and receptive to students’ interests. After expressing interest in a topic to one of my professors outside of class, he was happy to do an independent study with me. I benefitted from one-on-one attention and insight from my professor and developed an exciting research topic, which I further explored the following year in the form of writing an undergraduate honor’s thesis.
The research opportunities and flexibility offered by the History department at KU helped me decide that I wanted to pursue graduate study in history. I am currently in my first year of a M.A. in history at the University of Iowa, studying LGBT history in 20th century United States and Germany. With the skills, knowledge, and confidence that taking history courses at KU gave me, I am inspired to pursue my passion for history and, hopefully, turn it into a life-long career.
Sandra Sanchez '17
Coming to KU, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do or study, except that I liked history. I was fortunate to take history courses as a freshman that connected me immediately with an amazing faculty who really shaped my experience and pushed me to develop my academic interests. I was doubly helped by the history major itself, which was flexible and allowed me to explore courses from the history of indigenous peoples to Imperial China, eventually inspiring my other degrees in Chinese Literature & Language and Indigenous Studies at KU. When I asked to work on specific topics not offered among that semester’s course offerings, my history professors helped me curate individual research projects in directed, independent readings. This meant I was able to build research skills at my own pace and produce my own work, and most importantly, have departmental funding as well.
What is exciting about doing history at KU is the wealth of research opportunities and resources, meaning the major can take whatever shape you want it to. It’s true that doing history will make you a better writer and thinker, so even if you don’t want to follow the traditional historian careers, you will still greatly benefit from the major. When I was interested in jobs beyond academia such as public history, my professors helped me find an internship at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. Later, when I expressed my desire to apply to graduate school, they then helped me work on my application materials and let me sit in on graduate seminars in the department.
I credit the History Department at KU for helping me identify my career goals and for preparing me for a lifelong pursuit—and love—of doing history. I am now beginning my first year of a Ph.D. in History at Yale University and intend to become a professor. With the confidence in my own work and skills as a historian that I developed in KU history classes and the passion inspired by faculty mentors, I feel fully equipped to begin this next stage of my life.
Savannah Pine '17
History is the study of people. It is learning about them, their time period, their environment, their mentalities, their choices, their reasons for their choices, and how their personalities and choices create events. In order to understand history, you have to be a theologian, mathematician, scientist, engineer, biologist, literary analyst, doctor, criminologist, philosopher, sports analyst, political scientist, geographer, cartographer, chef, nutritionist, linguist, and so forth. History lends itself perfectly to interdisciplinary studies. You can easily add any major and/or minor to complement your study of history. Personally, I majored in History, co-majored in European Studies, minored in English, took French classes, and learned German while I was at the University of Kansas. I spent my year-off between undergraduate and graduate school learningLatin and Spanish. Now, I utilize my English skills by analyzing medieval literature to learn about contemporary people and their beliefs.
Historical skills are useful for nearly any career. For example, I used my archival skills, my research skills, and my love of libraries when I was a file clerk at a law firm. As a file clerk, I was in charge of the files which housed all the documents for the lawyer's clients and cases. My many experiences as a historian in a library trying to find a book, and then discovering that the book was not where it was supposed to be aided me as a file clerk.
I knew that I wanted to be a historian during my senior year of high school. I graduated from the University of Kansas with Departmental Honors in History and Departmental Honors in European Studies. Now, I am attending Christ's College at the University of Cambridge and am doing a Master of Philosophy program in Medieval History. I plan to receive a doctorate in Medieval History after I complete my Masters program, and then to become a History professor. Thanks to the History Department at the University of Kansas, I am studying Medieval History in the United Kingdom.
Luke Brinker '12
Shortly 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.
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.
Trent Boultinghouse '11
My 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.
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.
Emily Pinkerton '10
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.