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What History Alumni Say

What History Alumni Say

Holly Caldwell '01, History and French

Why did you choose to attend CHC?

Headshot of HollyQuite honestly, I chose to attend CHC because it was close to my home and I received several academic scholarships to attend. I had two family members who were quite ill at the time and I didn’t want to leave the area. Additionally, I was the first in my family to complete a college degree, and I didn’t have anyone to guide me through the process. It was quite an overwhelming process to learn how to apply, figure out how financial aid worked, and then attend college. Overall, I feel that CHC was the right choice for me. I was challenged academically by very small class sizes and I received individual attention and mentorship from nearly all of my professors. Having to be on task at all times in a small class setting helped me to develop a keen sense of self-direction and motivation that later helped me once I began graduate school.

Why did you choose to major in history at CHC?

Majoring in history occurred by accident--I never enjoyed history in secondary school. During my sophomore year, I took a course on twentieth century Europe with Lorraine Coons. At the beginning of the semester, she asked each student to share something unique about themselves. I remember that I replied that there was "nothing interesting about me." A friend nudged me in the side and reminded me that both of my maternal grandparents were Holocaust and concentration camp survivors. It was during that semester that I developed an understanding that history is the study of people, not the memorization of dates and miscellaneous events. My love for the subject didn’t wane; as I am now completing my Ph.D. in history.

What was your favorite aspect of CHC? 

 My favorite aspect of CHC is the faculty (and administration). The faculty and staff truly care about the student body. I always felt closely connected with my professors and learned about them as people. I strive to do the same in my classroom. I am still in contact with individuals who worked at the security desk (Miss Shirley), the library (Marian), and the dining services (Miss Lillian), in addition to others. CHC is a community in the truest sense of the word. I cannot pass Sister Cecelia, the Dean of Students, in the hallway without her grabbing me and giving me a hug.  I have never encountered a more caring group of personnel who are as deeply invested in the success of its students as I have at CHC. For me personally, Lorraine Coons has played a significant role in my development as a young (and now more mature) woman, student, scholar, and human being. She was not only one of the finest professors I have ever had, but she also inspired and encouraged me to continue my education, first with a Master’s degree at NYU and later with pursuing my Ph.D. at the University of Delaware. My mother passed away when I was entering my junior year at CHC and I have never had much familial support. Through the years, Lorraine has become a dear friend, mentor, and supervisor.

Were you involved in any clubs or activities while at CHC? If so, name them. Did you have any internships? If so name and describe them if you can.

I interned as an archival assistant at the Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies, now under the umbrella of the Pennsylvania Historical Society. This internship was a very rewarding experience in that I obtained indispensible skills in organizing immigration materials and records and worked on creating an exhibition of these artifacts.

What is your current job?

I am currently a full-time Ph.D. Candidate in Latin American History at the University of Delaware. I am also an adjunct Instructor at Chestnut Hill College.

Do you feel your time at CHC helped prepare you for the real world and for your current job?

I have held different jobs, from small, family-owned publishing firms to international publishing firms, and have taught at various levels, ranging from middle school to college level. In this regard, my education at CHC led to personal and professional growth. I attribute this to the holistic, liberal arts education that CHC embodies. When I was in college, I don’t believe that I fully appreciated the holistic education that was being afforded to me. After attending graduate school and working in the “real world,” I began to realize the value of learning from so many different fields, and the ways in which that they intersect. Through the years, I have found that it is important to be a good individual, instilled with good values and a moral compass, and to be aware of local and world events. To me, this means taking an honest interest in the world around us. It may sound trite, but a “degree” is worth more than classes and grades one earns; rather, it is based on what the student puts into it and thus gets out of it in return. In my case, I firmly believe that my education at CHC prepared me for both the real world and for my current job as an educator.

 

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Becky Cheyney '04, History and Biology

Why did you choose to attend CHC?

Chestnut Hill College was everything I was looking for in a college. It had the liberal arts curriculum, which I felt was important. Also, the student to faulty ratio allowed for individualized attention and the opportunity to form close bonds.

Why did you choose to major in history at CHC?

History had been a favorite subject of mine throughout school. I took Dr. Coons' World History courses both semesters of my freshman year and thoroughly enjoyed them. My first semester of sophomore year, I didn’t register for a history course. I designed the semester to be heavy on the sciences and after a few weeks of classes, I felt something was missing. During that same semester, on an orienteering trip for an environmental science course, my partner and I unknowingly strayed from the path on the map and found ourselves in a colonial reenactment! Traipsing through the woods, I decided I would duel major and figure out a way to complete both majors within 4 years.

What was your favorite part about the history dept, whether it be a specific faculty member, specific class, club, etc?

Dr. Coons' seminar “Genocide in the Modern World” was one of the more challenging classes at CHC. Trying to understand the extremism required covering a lot of dark material. To counter this, one of my classmate’s watched “I love Lucy” reruns to restore her faith in humanity. I spent extra time with my cat or the horses in the stable down the road from CHC.

Dr. Contasta’s “America and the Two World Wars” project is one of my most memorable. We were to obtain a primary source account either from relatives or a family friend on how World War II affected their lives. It was a very enlightening project as my grandparents didn’t discuss that part of their lives during family gatherings. Now that my grandmother has passed away, I have a small piece of family history that would have otherwise been lost.

What is your current job?

Administrative Assistant for Equine Disease Research at the University of Pennsylvania, New Bolton Center; It isn’t in my major field of study, but I’m ok with that. Few people actually enjoy their work and I feel blessed to be one of those few. Besides, who else can say their office is on a 700 acre campus in pastoral Chester County?

 

 

 

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Jackie Lipenta '08, History

Why did you choose to attend CHC?

I chose to attend CHC because of its reputation as a great liberal arts college, and because of the smaller size that provided for individualized attention.  Looking back, I am certain it was the right choice to attend CHC.

Why did you choose to major in history at CHC?

I chose to major in history because of my fascination with the subject and desire to further my research in the field.

What was your favorite part about the history department?

My favorite part about the history department was working with Dr. Coons, especially during my senior seminar class.  While it was a challenging class, I learned a tremendous amount from Dr. Coons and was able to delve into the specifics of my favorite history topic.  It was during that class that I have grown the most professionally.

Were you involved in any clubs or activities while at CHC?

I was a member of Phi Alpha Theta History honors society, as well as the Alpha Lambda Delta honors society. 

Do you feel your time at CHC helped prepare you for the real world and for your current job?

Currently I work as the Director of a post-graduate service program.  My program invites recent college graduates to dedicate a year of their lives to service. I am able to continue to use my history degree in this field because I am responsible for cataloging and archiving 30+ years worth of program history. Chestnut Hill prepared me for my current career in a number of ways. I developed communication, critical thinking and problem solving skills that I utilize everyday in my current career. I have a deeper understanding of research methods and archiving historical data.

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Lanette Hushon '10, History

Why did you choose to attend CHC?

Headshot of LanetteI always joke that when I was touring college campuses, I tripped on the sidewalks of every school I visited except Chestnut Hill. It seemed like a good omen. But more seriously, CHC really won me over with its location, I wanted to be in a city but not necessarily right downtown. The campus was easily the most gorgeous one I visited and the community seemed really welcoming. I was looking for a place not only to study, but somewhere to more or less become my home for the next four years. I also think that I really excelled in the smaller environment of Chestnut Hill in a way I wouldn't have in one of the larger State Universities.

Why did you choose to major in history at CHC?

I always knew that I wanted to major in history. It was my favorite subject and it seemed like a good stepping stone for all of the careers that I was considering. I was mostly just deciding which program I liked best when I was college hunting.

What was your favorite part about the history department?

I was mostly interested in studying Medieval Europe, so Dr. Coons' class on the subject was definitely one of my favorites. And I always really loved when the history club sponsored a movie night, no one appreciates dissecting historical accuracy in cinema quite like history nerds.

 Were you involved in any clubs or activities while at CHC? 

Well aside from the History Club and Phi Alpha Theta, I was also involved with The Grackle, The Luminous Review, and I occasionally submitted an article to the school newspaper. My freshman year I was involved with the school orchestra and choir, but I eventually had to give them up because the practices coincided with one of my classes.

Over the summer between my junior and senior year I had an internship at the York County Historical Society Museum. It was pretty interesting. They were working on digitizing their catalogue collection, so I spent most of the summer photographing their collection and inputing data about the objects into their new system. I learned a lot about the local history that summer.

What is your current job?

I am currently a Trial Clerk with the United States Tax Court. I think that it is tangentially related to my field of study as a part of the legal field. A history major generally is only directly applicable if you are looking to teach or work in a museum field. But the skills you learn as a history major (i.e. research, essay writing) are essential in the legal field.

Do you feel your time at CHC helped prepare you for the real world and for your current job?

In some ways, I really feel that academia isolates you from the 'real world' because it just takes up all your time and focus. You are a student, you've pretty much been a student for your entire life and it can be hard to escape that mentality. But I will definitely say that the history department at CHC frequently took us on field trips or brought in professionals to help us see what options we had after graduation. History degrees tend to get a bad wrap. If you believe the media, the only degrees worth pursuing are engineering, computer science or nursing. But even though I graduated at pretty much the bottom of the recent economic downturn, I was offered a job with the federal government less than two months after graduating with a 'useless' history degree. I don't think you can be much more prepared than that.
 

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Laura Breton '07, History

Why did you choose to attend CHC? 

I chose to attend CHC because I was interested in the Philadelphia area, being from CT originally. I visited the college and immediately fell in love with the campus. The classes were smaller, which meant I would actually get to know my instructors and they would get to know me. The location was wonderful having the feeling of the city but with plenty of parks and nature. I felt I made the right choice for me because it helped me explore another city/state from where I grew up. The instructors were nurturing and really cared about me as a student and my goals. I also met some great friends. All in all I was very happy with my choice to attend CHC.

Why did you choose to major in history at CHC?

Originally I chose to major in history to become a history teacher for middle school and/or high school. However, half way through my college career I decided I no longer wanted to teach. Having a history degree allowed me the flexibility to choose another direction.

What was your favorite part about the history department?

I enjoyed the closeness I had with my fellow history majors. We all had the love of history as our common interest. We would collaborate on projects or set up study groups. The faculty members were always so helpful and available for after class meetings and mentoring. They helped me achieve my goals.

Were you involved in any clubs or activities while at CHC?

I was a member of the History Honor Society while at CHC. My junior year, I began my internship at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) as an Insurance claims assistant.  This position actually helped me get my foot in the door at the VA where I have continued my career.

What is your current job?

I am currently a Management Analyst for the Eastern Area Office, Veterans Benefits Administration. This position is not necessarily a History degree position; however my History degree has assisted me in advancing my career at the VA. My position requires quick analytical thinking, writing and researching skills. These are all skills I learned while being a history major.

Do you feel your time at CHC helped prepare you for the real world and for your current job?

Yes, I found my internship through the college. CHC helped me prepare my resume and for the interview. Having an internship, balancing classes, extracurricular activities helped me learn organizational skills. I will admit, I dropped the ball a few time but I learned from my mistakes and helped me prepare for how life would be after college with a full time job

 

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