Phyllis Jestice ’82 originally intended to teach high school music, but found a new path in the History department under the mentorship of the late Prof. Walter Lowrie. She writes, “I had a good background in research and writing before UPS, but faculty members there helped me hone those skills, and certainly pushed me to a level of analysis that I had never even imagined was what historians did. Every member of the department had a faith in me that I didn't have in myself.” After graduation, Phyllis earned an M.A. and Ph.D. in Medieval History and Humanities at Stanford, and taught at several universities before joining the College of Charleston’s History Department as professor and chair of History in 2013. Phyllis finds her current career rewarding in many ways, but writes that “the number-one thing would have to be the many wonderful relations I've had with students over the years, and the feeling that I've had a positive impact on so many lives.” She cautions students to consider the decision to pursue a Ph.D. in History very carefully, given the scarcity of tenure-line university jobs for historians: “Don't try to become a professional medieval historian unless you simply can't imagine having a happy life any other way. If you do go down that path, learn languages, cultivate accessibility, and find a support network.”
Amy (Hoard) Kinsel ’82 earned for M.A. and Ph.D. in History at Cornell University. In 1993 the Society of American Historians awarded Amy the Allan Nevins Prize for best-written doctoral dissertation in American History, for “’From These Honored Dead:’ Gettysburg in American Culture, 1863-1938.” In 2004, after several years as an active independent historian, Amy joined the faculty at Shoreline Community College, where she is now Dean of Social Sciences, Library and Parent Child Center. She has also been active in Shoreline’s American Federation of Teachers union (SCCFT Local 1950), as well as in the leadership of the Organization of American Historians.
John Ott ’91 earned his M.A. and Ph.D. in History from Stanford, and in 1999 joined the History faculty at Portland State University, where he is now a full professor. He reflects that his experience writing an Honors thesis under the supervision of the late Prof. Walter Lowrie, as well as “with the broad based liberal arts education I received at UPS in my major and minor fields, prepared me extremely well for graduate school.” For those considering a Ph.D. in History, John writes, “Passion and perseverance are prerequisites!”
Sara B. Pritchard ’94 received her PhD in History from Stanford and held postdoctoral fellowships at MIT and the University of Pennsylvania before landing a tenure-track jobs, first at Montana State University-Bozeman and then at Cornell, where she is Associate Professor of Science & Technology Studies. While she arrived at Puget Sound planning to become a high school teacher, she writes, “Learning in the seminar environment of a liberal arts college and taking courses in environmental history and the history of science and technology transformed my career goals,” and working closely with professors in History, French, and Honors kindled her passion for scholarly research. She wants students considering careers in academia to know that “positions in higher education are extremely few and far between these days. It’s imperative to love what you study and do – first and foremost – and go to graduate school because of your insatiable curiosity."