Jeff Parksinson

 Jeffrey Parkinson

Jeffrey Parkinson, Teacher, Hopewell Valley Central High School.  I enrolled at Villanova as a graduate student in history in the summer of 2013. Prior to coming to Villanova, I had attended another local university where I was enrolled in graduate-level education courses. After taking three courses, I knew that I wanted to switch to a history program, as I thought it would be more applicable to my career as a high school social studies teacher. My decision to come to Villanova was a difficult one, as it meant studying for and taking the GRE’s, a step up in workload and expectations, as well as a much longer commute. But I can honestly say it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. I chose Villanova’s M.A. program specifically because it seemed geared towards teachers. Class meeting times, ease of access to the campus, and the accessibility of the professors have all made Villanova fit easily into my schedule, and the course assignments often have been directly transferrable to my classroom. Each one of my classes at Villanova has been intellectually stimulating, and my professors have all been caring and compassionate towards their students. The feedback I have received on my writing has been incredible; as an AP U.S. history teacher, I have found my writing, and ability to assess my student’s writing, has improved greatly over the course of the last year. Perhaps the biggest revelation has been my classmates. Being in an environment where everyone is driven to succeed, and genuinely interested in our class readings and discussions makes coming to class each week enjoyable and exciting. Currently, I am working with Dr. Giesberg on a research project centered on African American education in Newark during Reconstruction, an experience that has helped me grow immensely as an educator. By immersing myself in the research process, I am better able to engage my students and help them through the process than ever before. There is no doubt in my mind that my time at Villanova has helped me grow as a teacher and a person.

Theresa Altieri

Theresa Altieri

After I graduated from he University of Pennsylvania with a degree in Anthropology and Classical Studies, I had no idea what I wanted to do for a living.  I spent the next year volunteering at historic sites throughout Philadelphia, including Pennsbury Manor, when I discovered that my true passion was history.  I started to research public history programs in the Philadelphia area, and I was so impressed with what Villanova had to offer.  I loved the variety of classes that I could take and that all of Villanova’s classes were at night, allowing me to volunteer at a historic site or archive during the day.  While at Villanova, I worked as a graduate assistant for Dr. Paul Rosier, researching topics related to Native American citizenship.  I collaborated with other students and Dr. Judith Giesberg on “Memorable Days:  The Emilie Davis Diaries” website.  Classes such as Intro to Public History, Public History Practicum, and Graduate Internship in Public History, prepared me to effectively engage and communicate with the public about the importance of history.  I gained experience as an intern working with collections owned by the Civil War Museum of Philadelphia and researching and creating a tour on the growth and change of the neighborhood around Eastern State Penitentiary.  Today I am the Archivist of the Abraham Lincoln Foundation of the Union League of Philadelphia.  I manage all of the archival, manuscript, and object collections owned and under the stewardship of the ALF.  I am also responsible for the operation of the research component of the Sir John Templeton Heritage Center and assist visitors who are researching in the collections.   The education and practical experience I had as a student at Villanova allow me to properly care for the collections of the ALF and make them accessible to the public in a variety of interesting and innovative ways.

Hillary Kativa

Hillary Kativa

After graduating from Dickinson College with a B.A. in American History and English, I entered Villanova's graduate history program in 2006 with a desire both to enhance my knowledge of history and develop practical skills for educating and engaging public audiences.  Planning to pair my M.A. with a Master of Library and Information Science, I appreciated Villanova's emphasis on public history and the recognition that historical work and interpretation happens beyond the realm of academia.  Villanova's Introduction to Public History seminar highlighted key issues in the field, while the Public History Practicum allowed me to gain hands-on experience working with Eastern State Penitentiary on the interpretation and restoration of its Catholic chaplain's office.  In addition, courses like Roosevelt to Roosevelt, The U.S. Since the New Deal, and American Historiography provided a solid foundation in historical research and scholarly debate.  Following my graduation from Villanova in 2008, I obtained my M.L.I.S. from Rutgers University and quickly found that my background in public history perfectly complimented my library and archival studies.  Since completing my education, I have pursued a career in the digital humanities, working both as a Digital Project Intern for PhillyHistory.org and the Project Manager for Civil Rights in a Northern City: Philadelphia (http://northerncity.library.temple.edu), a digital history site developed out of Temple University's Urban Archives.  Until 2013 I was the Digital Collections and Rights Manager at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, where I managed HSP's Digital Library and handled digital reproduction and rights requests, as well as assisted with exhibitions, education projects, and public programming. Currently, I am Archivist for Photographic and Moving Image Collections at the Chimical Heritage Foundation. Both in and out of the classroom, my experiences at Villanova equipped me with valuable skills that inform my digital history projects and have allowed me to make a real-world impact on historical understanding and interpretation.   

Rebecca Caobianco

Becca Capobianco

I transferred to Villanova as an undergraduate student in the fall of my junior year.  Prior to attending Villanova, I had planned to continue to law school, but my time in upper level history seminars changed that significantly my senior year.  Rather than apply to law school, I applied to Villanova's M.A. program because I was familiar with the faculty of the department, enjoyed their classes, and saw many opportunities for further experience in the flexibility of the program.  During my time in the M.A. program I concentrated in both 19th century United States History and Public History and worked as a graduate assistant.  As someone with a deep interest in bridging the gap between "academic" history and "public" history, Villanova was a perfect fit not only because the program allowed me to pursue both ends, but also because the faculty were incredibly supportive of such a pursuit.  I found at Villanova that my professors were my biggest supporters and took every available opportunity to open more doors to new experiences. Along with a handful of other graduate students, I had the unique opportunity to participate in the creation of the Memorable Days Website - an online resource accessible to students and historians at all levels.  This was by far one of the most rewarding experiences of my graduate career, allowing us to share the project with our peers at national conferences as well as students in classrooms around the Philadelphia area.  Currently I am working with the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park to create a web-based curriculum for school students, a project for which I was particularly equipped thanks to my time at Villanova.


Tom Foley

Prior to starting the M.A. program in History at Villanova in 2011, I worked at a locally-owned moving company and as a research associate at the Pennsylvania House of Representatives.  Since then, I pursued interests in 19th Century United States history, especially the intersection of politics and gender, as well as in Russian history and literature.  I have also worked with several other Villanova graduate students and Dr. Judith Giesberg to edit and construct the “Memorable Days: The Emilie Davis Diaries” website.  Additionally, I served as a research assistant, an editorial assistant for the Journal of the Civil War Era, and as the History Graduate Forum representative, where I organized panels and presentations geared towards program preparation, academic advancement, and entry (and re-entry) into the professional world for history graduate students.  Throughout my time at Villanova, I found the History Department and wider Graduate Studies community to be extremely, collegial, supportive, challenging, and constructive.  The enthusiasm of professors for teaching and working with graduate students has been inspiring.  My fellow classmates have pushed me intellectually to consider novel perspectives, to view old evidence with new eyes, and to strive constantly to place the past in conversation with the present. 

I am a 2009 graduate of the University of Notre Dame and will continue my studies in the Ph.D. program at Georgetown University with a comprehensive package after graduating from Villanova this spring.


Colin McNulty

I applied to Villanova while deployed to Afghanistan in 2011.  I studied history as an undergraduate and wanted to continue to pursue my passion for the field. I had previously considered military history as a course of study. When I learned about the Revolution concentration at Villanova I was intrigued by the versatility of the program.  While in the MA program I have studied European Historiography, Public History, The US Civil War, Tolstoy’s War & Peace, 19 Century Ireland, 20th Century Europe, as well as a Student Teaching Internship for the course Empire, Violence and Revolution.  A real life dream came true Summer 2012 when I went to Egypt with Villanova students and faculty to study the History of the Armarna Revolution. There are simply just so many amazing opportunities in the history program at Villanova. The MA degree opens doors well beyond that of undergraduate studies.


Beth Petitjean

One of the best decisions I ever made was choosing Villanova for my graduate education.  I have always been interested in history, but hadn’t considered it as a major during my previous academic work.  After years of work experience, I decided I needed to change careers and looked to my past interests for inspiration.  My love of ancient history and Italian history prompted me to return to college in order to get the training to pursue this life-long interest as a career.  Of all the colleges in the area, the graduate History program at Villanova was a perfect match for me.  Late afternoon and evening classes fit with my work commitments.  Course offerings aligned with my interests and the expertise of the professors meant that I got a solid grounding in the discipline.  The program is rigorous, but well worth the effort.  I completed both a Master of Art degree in History and a Liberal Studies Certificate in Ancient Worlds in December 2012.   


Rusty Beckham

In the midst of a thirteen-year business career, I sought a new direction for my life.  This led me to graduate school at Villanova University.  I have always loved history, and the school’s reputation for academic excellence made it an obvious choice.  The History Department’s flexibility and my academic advisors have helped me customize a plan of study that suits my interests.  Villanova has driven me to explore history on a deeper level than I ever imagined possible.  Classes are rigorous, and professors’ expectations are high.  Villanova’s dedicated faculty offer help and direction at every step.  I cannot imagine another university offering the same opportunity for intellectual and spiritual growth that Villanova has given me.


Christine Gallagher

I am a second year student pursuing degrees in theology and history and a certificate in pastoral ministry.  I also work at Villanova as a Campus Ministry Intern, living in a freshman dorm and taking part in many campus ministry programs.  I grew up in Philadelphia and attended Georgetown University, where I majored in American Studies.  Following graduation, I moved to Phoenix, Arizona with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps.  I worked in the Office of Faith and Justice and taught religion to freshmen at Brophy College Prep.  Inspired by a call to justice education, I returned to the Philadelphia area to enhance my education to one day return to the classroom as a history teacher.  I’ve been surprised to find that my passions lie within and beyond history as my theology studies have enhanced my understanding of our past and our identities.  In the history department, I’ve been drawn to research related to historical memory, especially in the Philadelphia area.  I look forward to continued discussions of memory and identity as I transition back to a teaching position in the near future. 


Maria Savini

I am a high school social studies teacher with fourteen years’ experience. I am always looking for professional development opportunities to better prepare my students for college level history coursework. In the process, I have been selected to participate in the Presidential Academy for History and Civics, the Monticello-Stratford Summer Institute for Teachers, as well as, a plethora of workshops sponsored by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History and the National Endowment of the Humanities.  In 2008, I was awarded the James Madison Memorial Fellowship for Teachers for the State of Pennsylvania.  One component of the fellowship provided me the opportunity to attain a second master’s degree in American History (with particular emphasis on topics related to American Constitutional History).  After doing much research and receiving numerous recommendations, I decided to pursue my degree at Villanova.  I have always felt supported by the department and staff.  My advisor went out of his way to ensure that I met the requirements commensurate with the fellowship.  I have worked with most of the exemplary scholars within the program and benefitted from their rigorous and challenging coursework.  These experiences contributed to my induction into Villanova’s chapter of the Phi Alpha Theta National History Honor Society. I appreciate the manner in which Villanova professors get to know their students on a personal level and how each course is geared towards the overarching themes represented in the comprehensive exam.  I can attest to the impact of my studies within my own classroom. I encourage my students to think like historians and strive to create curriculum driven by primary sources and historiographical debate.  I am not the first Madison Fellow to choose Villanova and I will surely not be the last.