An Alumnus Reflects: Historian in the Making

When I first arrived at Ball State University I was unsure of what I would find. Just weeks before I had discovered the BSU history department’s

Each time I give a paper at an academic conference I remember my first presentation at the Ball State Student History Conference, 2009
Each time I give a paper at an academic conference I remember my first presentation at the Ball State Student History Conference, 2009

website, decided to apply for graduate school, and been accepted. With two days before classes began I pulled into Muncie with my car loaded down and quickly rented an apartment north of campus. The next day I bought my books, and the following afternoon I began the master’s program.

Unbeknownst to me this fortuitous turn of events would prove to be transformative. I had been a good student, but not great, at the University of Iowa where I majored in history. After graduating I’d moved to Beijing, China and taught conversational English, so I hoped studying ancient Chinese history at BSU would help me learn more about the landmarks I’d seen there. With the support of the history department faculty I found answers to my questions and so much more. The professors at Ball State encouraged my classmates and me to evaluate the books we read and interpret primary sources for ourselves. They challenged us to understand, and not just memorize, the people, places, and events we studied. On top of that our professors pushed us to be better writers. I loved it!

Dr. Mack
Dr. Mack

In the time I spent as a graduate student at Ball State I learned what it takes to be a historian and gained the confidence to pursue a career in higher education. Without the backing of the BSU history department I would never have gone on to the University of Oklahoma where I recently earned a Ph.D. in American history. Now, I intend of becoming a history professor myself, although a liberal arts education opens a world of other exciting career opportunities. I’ve learned analytical, writing, and research skills- which can be applied in infinite ways- but just as importantly I’ve become more empathetic and civic-minded in the process. When I reflect back on my time at BSU I am so grateful to the people who helped make this possible. Keep up the good work.

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