A Little Bit About Me!
Going to college was not something that I ever thought possible. While growing up in Coeur D’ Alene, Idaho, my mother worked as a waitress and my dad drove a cement truck. College was just not something that was on their radar. I am the first one from my family to graduate from college. For my parents, success meant getting a good paying job, working hard, and being a good employee. These guiding principles were not lost on me. I spent 25 years working at a brick manufacturing plant just south of Spokane Washington. I held to the premise that my parents taught me: work hard and be a good employee. Unfortunately, this formula was beginning to fail me. The company I had worked at for so many years began to struggle. They began to lack the finances to properly maintain the machinery that we relied on to do our daily work. Breakdowns occurred more regularly. I was working harder than I ever had, but it became increasingly more difficult to do my job efficiently. I knew that something had to change.
For as long as I can remember, I have had a passion for history. The aspect that interests me most when studying a historical topic is understanding the mindset of a population and what they went through. At age 50, I made the difficult decision to go back to school. It had been 32 years since I had been in a classroom and the thought of going to college was very intimidating. I wanted more out of life than just punching a timeclock and, with my wife’s encouragement, I decided to return to school. During my undergraduate studies, I learned the tools necessary to conduct solid historical research. I navigated my way around library databases becoming proficient at quickly discerning if a source was beneficial to my research or not. I learned the correct ways to include footnotes and citations while correctly categorizing primary and secondary sources. I also learned how to correctly format and include an annotated bibliography. I conducted research on topics such as the Orange Parades in Ireland and the history of the Russian Orthodox Church in Alaska. I have also conducted research for Dr. Bill Youngs on topics ranging from disease, U.S. history, and film in history, collaborating with him on my findings. Most recently, I undertook an independent research project focused on the Klondike Gold Rush. I had the opportunity to present my research paper titled, Klondike Fever: A Misdiagnosis at the Phi Alpha Theta Regional Conference in Pocatello in 2019 and at the Eastern Washington University Student Research and Creative Works Symposium (2019).
Having completed my undergraduate degree, I have put to rest any doubts I had about continuing my education. Not only have I survived here at Eastern, I have thrived. The instructors here care very deeply about the success of their students. My desire to explore history is matched only by my desire to share it with others. This passion is the motivating factor behind my decision to pursue a MA in History here at Eastern. My goal is to share my passion for history with others by teaching at the college level as a lecturer. Pursuing a master’s degree is a necessary step I must take. The area of academic study that I would like to focus on is United States History. Understanding the events that have impacted and shaped our nation is of great interest to me. Many of my research interests parallel those of Dr. Youngs. His courses on the American wilderness and American history are inspirational. I am currently researching and exploring a potential master’s topic involving the Klondike Gold Rush, which I am interested in pursuing as a graduate student. Dr. Youngs has been providing guidance in this area. Exploring the historiographical background of this event, as well as other important events in U.S. history, is what I expect to do during my graduate studies. I also expect to refine my research skills and become more efficient at gathering and organizing primary and secondary sources as a graduate student.
I am excited by the opportunity to continue my education here at Eastern Washington University. I know there will be challenges but given the success and momentum that I have gained during my time as an undergraduate student, I am confident that I can face them head-on and be successful. From my perspective, the study of history is not just an academic endeavor, but a passion towards a lifetime of learning.
Thanks for reading!