Life After SCU
What can you do with a history major?
Sarah Tkach '11
Technological Support, Castilleja School
"I work in the technology department at a private girls' school, providing administrative support and assisting with various technical support issues. Though I did not have a technical background, my boss hired me for the communication and critical thinking skills I had nurtured through studying history. Specifically, I developed skills to notice details, ask thoughtful questions, and acknowledge that context matters. My comfort with details has helped me learn about troubleshooting technology, as often a small detail makes the difference between a device working or not working the way someone wants. Students and employees call tech support in crisis, and I use careful, thoughtful dialogue to understand the context and triage the issues. Folks have a wide range of tech knowledge and experience, and some feel embarrassed to ask a "simple" question. I seek to dignify each person's experience, recognizing that each comes from a different background; I don't make assumptions even in a technology-rich school. Finally, I appreciate that in neither history nor technology can I claim to have all the answers, which inspires me to keep learning."
7th Grade CORE Teacher, Castillero Middle School
"After completing my undergraduate work at Santa Clara I enrolled in the MAT program at USC in order to obtain a secondary Social Science teaching credential as well as a masters degree in teaching. Although there are more than 10 Social Studies teachers at my school I am the only one who majored in history, which has often made me someone other teachers seek out when they are having difficulty creating a lesson or activity pertaining to a specific historical event or concept. Incorporating primary source documents into my classroom practice is a direct result of having majored in history, and I am always excited to find new ways for my students to study the past."
Guy Marzorati '13
AM Producer, KQED Public Radio
"The classes I took taught as a History major taught me strong writing skills and the ability to analyze daily events with a wider perspective. When I took on a History major at Santa Clara, I had no idea what I wanted to do after graduation, but I left with a set of fundamental skills that allowed me to pursue a wide variety of paths."
Rita Beamish '74
"I went to college knowing I wanted to be a reporter. My friends on the school newspaper raved about their history classes, and after my first class - one of Steve Gelber's -- I too was hooked. The History Department taught me about the world, the nation, the complex components of historical sweep. As journalists we are confronted with vast streams of information: We pour through research, we interview people who contradict each other, we witness events weighty and trivial, we monitor hours of testimony, we evaluate data and documents. These streams of information that must be organized into coherent stories are what make up news -- and history. The History Department bolstered my analytic skills, perspective and ability to organize diverse information. (Tight writing I learned later, at The Associated Press). Over many years, I have covered politics, government and policy -- in intense deadline situations at the White House and in foreign time zones, in fast-moving stories like the Iran-Contra scandal, in investigations of people, events and documents. In all of this, my education and the SCU History Department have served me well--helping me quickly and coherently put facts together, in the first draft of history."
Bethany (Feske) Lukach '06
Faculty, Burlingame High School
"I began teaching in 2006 through a Teach for America placement in Los Angeles. Among other things, my role in the classroom requires that I synthesize large volumes of text, prioritize instructional goals, and communicate effectively with students and parents. My history degree taught me how to read, write, speak, and think critically in an academic setting. Additionally, studying history expanded my capacity to question the validity and relevance of an author's claim. Obtaining these essential skills at SCU has allowed me to enjoy and thrive in my career as a middle and high school teacher."
Dominic Rios '13
Teach For America Corps, San Diego
"After graduating from Santa Clara University, I joined Teach for America and now currently teach social studies in a low-income high school in the San Diego area. The education and support I received in the History department prepared me well for my transition into a high school classroom. In addition to challenging their students to think critically about history and its connections to the present, the department professors always made time to talk with students about their progress, specific courses, resources, etc.—all of which I try to emulate every day in my own classroom!"
Ph.D. Student, Stanford University
"The history major hones a student's ability to think critically, argue effectively, and write persuasively. After graduating from SCU I was hired as a TV news promotion writer/producer/editor solely on the strength of my writing skills. After years in the industry I returned to school to pursue a Masters degree in History. Thanks in part to my Santa Clara education, I excelled in that program and am now pursuing a PhD in Latin American history. My advice to prospective history majors is to do what you love and do it well, and opportunity and success will follow no matter which major you choose."
History Teacher, San Jose
"As a history teacher in southeast San Jose, I have been able to excite students in learning about the past. Earning my degree in history from SCU helped prepare me to teach history, not teach the textbook; it has helped me to mentor new history teachers, and to design cross-curricular units for the new Common Core. It is helping me to make a difference in education."
Bridget Brown '12
"As a history major I studied colonialism and gender relations, moreover the silencing of the female voice throughout this period (and ultimately all of history). It is the lessons learned from these lectures which have led me down my current path and equipped me with the knowledge and energy for a future in the world of nonprofits and women’s rights. Technology is our future and we cannot allow women to remain absent and without voices in this field."
Carolyn Linck '11
Senior Account Executive, Access Communications
"Since graduating in 2011 I've started my career in public relations and am currently a Senior Account Executive at Access Communications in San Francisco representing consumer and technology clients. In PR, I use the skills I developed as a history major, particularly research, writing and critical thinking, every day. Further, working on a wide variety of accounts -- from non-profits to technology companies and international hospitality chains to luxury goods providers -- the intellectual curiosity and storytelling capabilities I developed while studying history at Santa Clara have served me extremely well in the professional world."
Danielle Vermazen '11
Technology Sales, Salesforce.com
"Since graduation, I've worked in technology sales and recently relocated with my company to sell Software as a Service to the Federal Government. My job requires me to find new business opportunities in federal agencies and present possible solutions to my customers. As a history major, I developed presentation and research skills that I use every day in my current job. My company stresses the importance of telling a story when presenting new solutions to a customer and my experience in preparing for my thesis taught me how to present new ideas to any audience."
Michael O'Sullivan '10
Ph.D. Student, University of California - Los Angeles
"A history degree from Santa Clara University has allowed me to pursue my vocation as a professional historian. I credit the department, with it's small class sizes and supportive faculty, for the inspiration and guidance that have led me from opportunity to opportunity. More than this, I learned the value of independent thought, sharp writing, and innovative research -- skills that are crucial to any profession. In my own experience, a history degree led me first to the University of Cambridge, where I obtained an MPHIL with distinction, and now to UCLA, where I am pursuing a PhD in the history of the Middle East and South Asia. Through all this, the education I received at SCU has been a source of self-assurance."
Richelle Neal '10
Pediatric Resident, Phoenix Children's Hospital
"I graduated in June 2010 from Santa Clara University as a proud recipient of a history degree. Entering college with a dream of becoming a pediatrician, I initially ignored my love for history, trading it in for a more traditional path to enter medicine. But I kept being drawn to history courses and the great faculty at Santa Clara’s history department. They made it possible for me to not only succeed as a history major; but more importantly, they provided the tools to excel in my chosen field of medicine and eventual field of pediatrics. Each and every course expanded my critical thinking and broadened my perspective on the importance of culture and the past. Santa Clara’s history department set me up for success in approaching patients and not just seeing the medical diagnosis, but in the setting of a community, a family, and as an individual. I am able to see cultural and ethical aspects that have helped me start to build the type of practice I aspire to achieve."
Andrea Dlugos '12
Account Executive, Full Circle Wine Solutions
"Majoring in history equipped me with a cultural awareness and sensitivity that is uniquely emphasized in the wine industry. Studying history also taught me the invaluable skills of critically analyzing issues and applying that knowledge to create a compelling argument for solutions to present-day problems. These skills are necessary in a marketing position such as mine, where I evaluate the success of programs in the past to create plans that build on what has worked well while developing new strategies to ensure that previous mistakes are not repeated (as is the goal when studying history). Ultimately, our clients want to tell a story about their wines. History is the accumulation of stories, so being able to analyze and understand these stories and communicate them to others is a skill that is pivotal to any type of marketing position."
Hilary Armstrong '00
Directing Attorney, Health Legal Services | Mental Health Advocacy Project, Law Foundation of Silicon Valley
"I use skills that I developed through my history major every single day on the job – from research and writing to analyzing the facts and law in my clients’ cases to communicating with other service providers, government officials, and elected leaders. In addition, my background in history has given me a unique perspective on the issues that my clients face, especially how the history of mental health and HIV treatment in the United States impacts how my clients experience those systems today."
Holly Kearl '05
Consultant, UN Women's Safe Cities Global Initiative
Adjunct Professor, George Mason University
Facilitator, The OpEd Project
Founder/Executive Director, Stop Street Harassment
Author, Stop Street Harassment: Making Public Places Safe and Welcoming for Women
"Today, I am a consultant to the UN, an adjunct professor of Women's Studies at George Mason University, a facilitator with the OpEd Project and a communications manager for One World Education. I've also authored two books and nearly 60 published articles on gender violence topics and I run the site www.StopStreetHarassment.org. All of my work requires some level of research and a lot of writing and those are both talents I strengthened through courses in the history department at SCU. I also always consider the historical context for my work and the issues I focus on and I think that is a unique lens I bring to my social justice and activism work."
Anna Mascoli '12
J.D. Candidate, NYU School of Law
"After graduation, I began law school at NYU. The educational experience I had as a history major is very similar to the legal education I have had. I spend time studying different legal frameworks, and applying these to novel situations. The ability to critically analyze rather than simply memorize is an invaluable skill I learned during my time at Santa Clara, and will serve me well as a practicing attorney. In addition, the research and writing skills that I developed as a history major put me a step ahead when I began school. Instead of wasting time learning how to use search engines and write topic sentences, I spent time honing my persuasive writing and developing my oral argument skills. Feeling prepared in law school is something that should never be underestimated!"