The goal of teaching history at the collegiate level is a challenging one, and many graduates compete for a limited number of positions. But it’s a job that Megan Miskiewicz has dreamed of since “falling in love” with the subject in high school. Now, the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies program is helping her make it a reality.
As an honors undergraduate at DePaul, Miskiewicz majored in history with a minor in women’s and gender studies. She began working on a book that explored themes of sterilization, eugenics and the economics of marriage — pieces of American history that fascinated her, but are less well known among the public. But then her project began to stall.
“I discovered that I needed more formal training and feedback,” she says. “I also wanted to work out concerns I had about the field, such as the place of theory and innovation in teaching history. The Liberal Studies program gave me a broader, interdisciplinary context, and I’ve come away with a stronger understanding of the canonical scholarship and history’s connection to everyday life. I feel more grounded in the topics that interest me.”
Miskiewicz credits her SCS’ instructors with helping her to find focus, which is critical to any career, but especially important in academia.
“Professor Henry Binford, in particular, was amazing — very knowledgeable across disciplines, friendly, and always has time for students,” she says. “He taught me that focusing my interests was not the same as narrowing them and that a whole world would open up — and that’s exactly what happened. MALS is also very flexible, and I was able to take literature classes as well. My courses with Professors Betsy Erkkila and Kasey Evans improved my writing and research skills and the ability to do close readings of documents. In many ways, MALS is helping me to become a professional scholar.”
Miskiewicz’ MALS education, and the encouragement she received to take her education into her own hands, may give her an edge when she applies for a PhD program in history in the fall of 2014. For example, she joined the abstract committee for a conference jointly sponsored by Northwestern University and the University of Illinois at Chicago on “Engendering Change” in which she also presented some of her work. She also presented an original paper at “Transcending the Narrative,” a history conference hosted by Indiana University. She earned financial support from SCS to attend the Indiana conference.
“The funding was very meaningful to me,” she says. “Whether or not you are pursuing an academic career, there is a highly supportive environment here. SCS has helped me tremendously.”