Department of History Alumni Profiles

The history experience

For more about the value of a history education, read what our alumni have to say.

I chose history as my undergraduate focus to gain the lessons of the past to improve my understanding of how to communicate ideas effectively. My focus during my studies was on central Asia and the cultures that rose and fell from pre-history to the present day. The history undergraduate program provided multiple opportunities to consider and synthesize primary and secondary source material, enabling me to improve my ability to analyze the world around me.

Following my graduation and eventual discharge from the military, I have been serving other military veterans in the community by providing them improved access to their earned benefits. My education has been vital to my career because my improved skills in writing and presentation are the cornerstones of how I provide services.

One does not need to be a history major to be a pilot, but the skills I learned in my history studies have translated neatly into my career. In historical research, we are often presented with an array of often disparate information and must find some synthesis of the material. This is not unlike having a malfunction in an airplane where neither the problem nor the solution are immediately apparent and even at odds with what the “book” says. Furthermore, the travel opportunities my job affords me are even richer through my understanding of the history of the various cities and countries to which I fly.

I imagine these same history skills would have enormous benefits in many other career fields as well. Happy studying!

Throughout that time, I longed to apply the skills and knowledge I developed as a student of history to a career that felt like me. In a rather dreary period of soul searching in 2018, I met a Park Ranger who informed me that with my degree in history I had a great chance of landing a job as a Ranger. As a long-time outdoor enthusiast and lover of National Parks, this was incredible news. From then on, my life was dedicated to the pursuit of this goal.

Fast forward to 2021, I am offered a job at the historic Mesa Verde National Park, a place steeped in the rich history of the Ancestral Pueblo People. I spent an entire summer touring dwellings that were hundreds of years old and acting as a conduit to allow visitors to connect with this amazing place. Since that time, I have been lucky to work for both NPS and BLM as a Park Ranger, getting paid to explore and share the history of some of this country’s most wonderful and spectacular places. And while this career path can be extremely competitive, I know that my background in history has given me a huge advantage.

The education I received at UNR was a great foundation for my career. From combat patrols in Afghanistan in the early 2010s as a social-cultural research manager, over fact-finding missions in Eastern Europe about the emerging “Russian threat” in 2016 as a military analyst, to battlefield studies and leader development on battlefields throughout the world as a facilitator, to supporting documentaries, to editing and writing a variety of Army publications and history books as a historian; the value of a solid education in history is priceless. You might not end up as a historian (I was lucky!) but the skills, insights and lessons you gain will be invaluable for your future career and life! “History Matters!” is not just a simple slogan for me but words of progress and action!”

Over the years my priorities changed and I decided being a high school teacher wasn’t the right path for me. However, I am still incredibly glad I stuck with history as a major because it helped me develop skills that I literally use every single day, in both my professional and personal life. Sometimes I utilize the actual knowledge that I gained in classes - I work for an international affairs school and it’s helpful to know how social, cultural and political trends have changed over time to impact the way people and countries interact with each other. But the most important skill my history degree taught me is the ability to think critically and carefully about the world around me. A globally connected internet means that we have more access to more knowledge than anyone else in human history. This means we need to be really good at interpreting that knowledge, determining what information is legitimate and what is false or even dangerous. My history degree gave me the skills to do this and as a result I feel very comfortable making decisions for myself about what information to trust.

If you are interested in learning more about how our current world works, history is absolutely the right major for you. The history faculty at the University of Nevada, Reno are fantastic and they will give you all the tools you need to be a well-informed global citizen.

When examining an object/resource, I ask myself questions such as: To whom would this be of interest and/or value, and why? How might someone utilize this object? What search terms might someone use to find this object? What is the nature and degree of this object’s historical relevance and value? How can I describe this object in such a way as to instill it with the broadest degree of allure and value as possible? My answers to those questions then get embedded into the metadata I create for the object. It was my education, training and development as a historian that provided me with the historical intuition and foresight to effectively perform this function.

Carla has presented and curated many history programs and public displays over a range of subjects, including African American and Women's History, genocide and genealogy. She says, "I've had the good fortune to utilize the skills I've learned from my historical research and writing to engage and educate." In 2017 she helped secure for WCLS a major Holocaust exhibition from Paris, France called, Hélène Berr: A Stolen Life. Carla says, "I want to give agency to lost voices and marginalized people, exchange ideas with a broad spectrum of people and encourage thought on questions like, when does genocide begin? There are times we all need reminding we have choices: to become a perpetrator, or bystander, or rescuer. Unless we engage and agitate, we render ‘never again' meaningless."

At Carroll College, one of her greatest joys has been teaching three study abroad experiences, one to Israel/the Palestinian Territories and Jordan (summer 2011), one to Ireland (summer 2015) and one in January 2018 to Cuba. Jeanette also taught in Jordan and Morocco (summer 2013 and 2014 respectively) and volunteered summer 2012 in the Aida Refugee Camp in Bethlehem, Palestine.

She completed her Ph.D. at Columbia University (earning a Bancroft prize for her dissertation) and is currently a Bridge to Faculty Postdoctoral Research Associate at the University of Illinois Chicago. She is an engaging scholar who applies her historical expertise to influence public policy related to the well-being of migrant and U.S. citizen children of mixed-status families.

Brett said he was very excited when he was offered the position because he knew the park had abundant historical elements, such as the petroglyphs that can be found around the park which were chiseled by Anasazi people thousands of years ago. There are also petrified logs, old movie sets and Civilian Conservation Corps stone cabins within the park. Brett will eventually be a Law Enforcement Ranger, however, he will still have the opportunity to plan out interpretive programs for the visitors. Brett said, "Overall, I am very excited that I have found a career that will allow me to utilize my historical training, while feeding my other passion, the outdoors."

The variety of courses at UNR and the expertise of my professors has allowed me to research and publish on a wide range of topics in my career. I have written a book on skiing and the history of the Alps and I am currently composing a book manuscript on the relationship between automobiles and European colonies in Africa in the first half of the 20th century. I have also published on the role of mobility in Nazi Germany and the presentation of history in contemporary video games. My research has taken me to archives in amazing places: the south of France, the Swiss Alps, Rome, Berlin, Paris and Miami.

Whatever interests you has a past, and the expertise of your professors and the close attention you receive in the Department of History at UNR will allow you to follow your passions and prepare you for life after graduation. Go Pack!

He highly values the education he received at the University of Nevada, Reno, particularly the close interaction with professors, fellow graduate students and in teaching undergraduate students. The groundwork laid during his time at the University prepared him for a career in studying, documenting and evaluating cultural resources in a variety of settings. He encourages students to gain as broad an education as they can, and take advantage of the study of social sciences, no matter their major. It is vitally important that people understand the world in which they live and work, and the College of Liberal Arts is well suited to help students do just that.