Graduate Student Testimonials

Dane 1

Since November 2015, I have worked as the Museum Educator at The National Civil War Museum in Harrisburg, PA. Every day since the date of my hiring I feel honored to fulfill this role at the nation’s preeminent institution for studying all aspects of this divisive conflict. The museum features seventeen different galleries, arranged in a chronological and thematic order, and it addresses the various components of the Civil War story from multiple perspectives. Not only do I have the privilege of educating the youths and adults that come here, but I also manage and organize our volunteers and interns, assist in the development of new, temporary exhibit spaces, coordinate educational offerings and outreaches, and write historical articles for the museums newsletter.

My combined coursework in American and Public History at Villanova refined my skills as a history scholar. Practical experience most applicable to my current position came from lessons that I delivered in Civil War uniform to Villanova undergraduates in Dr. Giesberg’s Civil War history class. This required me to come to classes with a campus police escort. I also completed a graduate internship in public history, in which I taught lessons in a one-room school house at Quiet Valley Living Historical Farm in the Poconos. Villanova history students are fortunate to study under top-notch faculty who care dearly about getting budding scholars professionally developed in their field of interest. If I can offer a word of advice to all Villanova students, it would be to grow from all of your experiences here and make serious connections between the classroom and the practical experience you gain in the field. Go Wildcats!  

Theresa Altieri

After I graduated from the 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 HistoryPublic 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.

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.

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.

James Espisito

I graduated Temple University with a BA in History in 2011. I had a natural talent for the writing and intellectual rigor of history, but I found it difficult to translate into a satisfying career without added training and expertise. I worked in information technology for two years and volunteered at the German Society of Pennsylvania while weighing my career options. The Horner Library collection provided invaluable experience into the world of the archive. There I cataloged rare books, manuscripts, and microfilm. I supported GSP's operations and consulted with them on various education technology issues, including digitization of their microfilm collection. In 2013, I applied for Villanova for my Masters in History. Villanova's focus on historiography and critique dramatically improved my writing. My professors in the history department constantly challenged me to strive for the highest standard of theoretical and historical sophistication while actively nurturing my research interests in history of race and identity in the British Empire. Villanova opened up a number of unique opportunities for research, including Villanova's Summer Research Fellowship, which I received in Spring 2014. Villanova Graduate Studies awarded me funding to conduct research at the University of Bath and National Archives at Kew, London. My professors at Villanova, in particular Dr. Abugideiri, Dr. Johnson, and Dr. Kolsky, helped me develop the necessary tools to go on for a PhD in history. I had prepared to go down the doctoral road from the outset, but I discovered my particular talents as a historian more suited to the archive. I interned with the Historical Society of Pennsylvania's Digital Collections department in Winter 2015. HSP trained me to operate sophisticated imaging hardware, document cameras, and scanning equipment for HSP's Digital Library. I also managed database entries and metadata, employing a mix of established and gained skills. I applied to Drexel University's Master of Library and Information Science program summer of 2015 and intend to go on into a career in digital archival management with a focus on twentieth century archives.  

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 plan to continue my studies in the Ph.D. program at Georgetown University.

Christine Gallgher

I pursued degrees in theology and history and a certificate in pastoral ministry.  I also worked 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 was 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. 


I graduated from Elizabethtown College in 2005 with a B.A. in History, and following the recommendation of a former classmate, Jeff Ludwig (Villanova M.A., '06), I enrolled in Villanova’s M.A. program that fall. At Villanova I studied 19th Century U.S. and African American history with Dr. Judith Giesberg. Dr. Giesberg’s seminar course on Reconstruction offered me an opportunity to complete a research paper on the origins of segregation at the Jersey Shore. This paper became the foundation of my research interests on the northern civil rights movement(s) that continues to shape my current work. I was also lucky enough to be a Teaching Assistant for Dr. Lawrence Little. I not only found Dr. Little to be an engaging and dynamic classroom instructor, but also an exceptional mentor who allowed me the freedom and flexibility to develop my skills as a weekly discussion leader.

After Villanova, I was accepted into the doctoral program at West Virginia University and completed my degree in 2013. I spent two years as a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown, and recently accepted an Assistant Professor of U.S. History position at Drury University in Springfield, Missouri.  Fordham University Press published my book, The Retreats of Reconstruction: Race, Leisure, and the Politics of Segregation at the New Jersey Shore, 1865-1920.

Daniel Gorman

After receiving my B.A. in history and religion from the University of Rochester and then I received my MA in History from Villanova. I'm primarily interested in researching the history of religion in the United States, but I'm also interested in cultural and political history. Villanova's History program is rigorous, based on small seminar classes where discussion is a must. There are great opportunities both on campus and in Philadelphia for historical internships and research, so Villanova is in an optimal position for training the next generation of teachers and public historians. I wasalso the Vice President of Communications for the Graduate Student Council. – Dan Gorman '16

Michael Johnson

My name is Michael Johnson, and I am a 2015 graduate of Villanova’s Master’s program in History. I grew up in South Jersey, and I completed my undergraduate studies at the University of Notre Dame, where I graduated in 2012 with a degree in History, with a concentration in the United States.

Since middle school I have been interested in American History, particularly the Civil War era, an interest I attribute to my enthusiastic and inspiring U.S. History teacher. While at Notre Dame and Villanova, my research interests, still centered in the nineteenth century, have focused on questions of race, ethnicity, and identity. My undergraduate honors thesis, which coincidentally was based on materials from Villanova’s special collections, examined the dual Irish and American identities of the Fenian Brotherhood, an Irish nationalist organization active in the United States after the Civil War.

After graduating from Notre Dame, I returned to South Jersey and worked as a curriculum developer for a company that promotes history education and professional development for schools. I had been interested in graduate school, and my advisors at Notre Dame suggested I look at Master’s programs in addition to doctoral programs. Villanova was already an attractive option because of its location and funding opportunities; meeting Drs. Emmet McLaughlin (then Director of Graduate Studies) and Judith Giesberg (the Nineteenth Century Historian I anticipated working most closely with), convinced me to apply.

My experience at Villanova was more than I could have imagined. I was able to learn from and work closely with amazing and supportive faculty. I even had opportunities to take classes outside of the History Department. After taking a course on Geographic Information Systems (GIS) in the Geography Department, I applied my interests in using digital tools to an Independent Study with Dr. Joseph Lennon in the Irish Studies Department on hunger strikes in British prisons during the first half of the twentieth century. As a result of this project, Dr. Lennon and I are coauthoring an essay which is set to be published in a forthcoming collection on using digital tools in the Humanities.

I was also able to pursue my primary interests in Civil War Era history. A research paper for Dr. Giesberg’s course on the Civil War led to an independent study during which I got to work closely with Dr. Giesberg and two other graduate students, Jim Kopaczewski and Elizabeth Motich. The project, A Great Thing for Our People”: The Institute for Colored Youth in the Civil War Era, explores the Institute for Colored Youth, an elite school for African American children in nineteenth century Philadelphia. The online exhibit focuses on the many contributions the school’s first graduates made in the Philadelphia community and beyond.

Being a part of the History Department at Villanova also offered a number of opportunities outside of the classroom. I was able to present research before audiences at venues such as the Historical Society of Pennsylvania and the African American Museum in Philadelphia. I also attended the 2014 Society of Civil War Historians conference, which was a great learning experience. As a graduate assistant, I had the opportunity to serve as Editorial Assistant for the Journal of the Civil War Era. I was also able to help develop the History Graduate Student blog, Historically Speaking, which allows students to share thoughts on current research and academic-related current events.

The Master’s Program in History at Villanova provided tremendous opportunities to grow as an individual and a scholar. Now I preparing to head down to Washington, D.C. to enroll in the doctoral program at George Washington University. My time at Villanova, working with faculty and fellow students both in and out of the classroom, provided valuable experiences that prepared me for this next stage in my studies.    

British Hunger Strikes Project: http://exhibits.library.villanova.edu/hunger-strikes-british-prisons-1913-1940

Institute for Colored Youth: http://exhibits.library.villanova.edu/institute-colored-youth

Graduate Student Blog: https://vugradhistory.wordpress.com/

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.   

James Kopaczewski

I graduated from St. Joseph’s University in 2013 with a B.A. in History and a minor in International Relations. While at St. Joseph’s, I was a member of Phi Alpha Theta, the National History Honor Society, and served as a Summer Scholar, where I researched 19th century immigrant communities. Following graduation, I switched sides in the Holy War and made the short move up Lancaster Avenue to Villanova University. At Villanova, I studied United States history with an emphasis on the Civil War and Reconstruction. My research primarily focused on race and ethnicity in the 19th century as well as digital history. In November 2014, I presented at both the Historical Society of Pennsylvania and the annual meeting of the Pennsylvania Historical Association. The paper I presented was entitled, “‘If I Get Home Safe’: William C. White’s Experiences in the American Civil War.” In April 2015, ‘If I Get Home Safe’ was published in Villanova University’s CONCEPT: Interdisciplinary Journal of Graduate Studies and was announced as the Graduate Research Prize Essay.

During my time at Villanova, I had the opportunity to work with many fine people including Dr. Judith Giesberg. From June 2014 to February 2015, Dr. Giesberg, two fellow history graduate students, and I worked on a digital history project called, “‘A Great Thing for Our People’: The Institute for Colored Youth in the Civil War Era.” Our project was published through Villanova’s Falvey Library in February 2015, and received press in the Philadelphia Inquirer and 900 WURD AM.

In all, Villanova has been a wonderful place to grow as a student. Without the relationships, instruction, and opportunities that the university has provided me, I would not be in a position to pursue starting my Ph.D. I don't believe it is an exaggeration to say that Villanova has deeply shaped the student of history that I have become.


After graduating from Penn State in 2007 with a degree in Secondary Education Social Studies, I landed the greatest job of all time: teaching 8th grade social studies in Central Bucks School District. Two years later I entered Villanova's History program with the goals of enriching my content area knowledge and notching some continuing education credits; little did I know it would lead to an additional career.

The source material, topics, and phenomenal professors ignited my passion for bringing the past to life in new ways. Most importantly, my professors helped me see that my writing wasn't as good as I thought. Their insightful critiques honed that skill, allowing me to publish a few papers that gave me a taste for a goal I was never fully aware of until I started: to write and publish a book that made history come alive for my own students.

Last summer that dream came true when Sky Pony Press bought my debut young adult novel, The Judas Society, and again this past February when Dial/Penguin Random House purchased my second and third novels at auction. I am indebted to my professors for their patient guidance and engaging lectures, and hope to similarly inspire my own students as I embark on this dual career of teaching and writing. 

Heather Lucas

I grew up in a small town, in the middle of Pennsylvania farmland. If you would have told me then that I would have ended up with graduate degrees from a University outside of Philadelphia, I’d have said you were crazy. But I have regretted nothing of my journey that has blessed me with a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Scranton, and 2 Master’s degrees from Villanova University (Theatre ’11 and History ’15).

Graduate school is a lot of work, time, and energy, regardless of which discipline you are pursuing, and because of this, it becomes incredibly easy to let the stress and overwhelming feelings of “I’m not cut out for this!” take over. But I’d like to share three key tenets that I found to be ubiquitous throughout Villanova’s graduate programs. Once I figured these out, it made the mountainous pages of reading seem like mole hills; the 15-18 pages of writing seem like blog posts; and that eighth cup of coffee unnecessary.

Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, always remember that the faculty and staff of your given department are there to help you. Believe me, I know at times it may seem like they are punishing you or setting you up for failure, but I promise, they truly want nothing more than to see you succeed. Each graduate student enters his or her respective program like caterpillars, and after two years of stressful and intense academic cocoon-living, your professors are excited by the prospect of the butterflies emerging before them on gradation day. And they will tell you so…perhaps in a less National Geographic way, but they will mean it whole-heartedly. Secondly, your classmates are your biggest assets and strongest allies. Your classmates—those second years who freak you out with graduate school horror stories, but ultimately find ways of comforting you and rooting for you; the students who you will sit next to at graduation in four short semesters who cheer for you and support you, who bring you that I’ve-lost-track-of-how-many cups of coffee, and who risk library fines for you; and finally those first years, who in your second year of graduate school look to you with their big doe-eyes filled with fear and panic hoping for some sort of affirmation that they’ve made the right choice—those are your classmates. Those are the people who will challenge your thinking and inform your growth as an academic and a person. No one understands more vividly or profoundly the rigors of what you are experiencing. And finally, YOU CAN DO IT! Believe me, I know it seems like an impossibility, particularly during that really ugly crying jag you’re having on the fourth floor of Falvey, but inevitably, the two years goes by in a blink. You are surrounded by people—faculty, staff, and fellow students—who either know what it is you’re going through, or are actually in the trenches with you. Learn from them. Lean on them. Rely on them. Take each semester one week at a time. Treasure the friendships you make, value the knowledge you gain, and enjoy your time at Villanova.

Chelse Martin

I have made quite a few stops throughout my academic journey. I started as a Social Studies major at Penn State University before transferring to the Culinary Institute of America for a brief stint. It was there that I realized the importance of, and my affinity for, food and culinary history. I continued my undergraduate education afterward, and received a BA in History and a minor in Social Studies from Misericordia University in 2013, where I was introduced to the field of public history. As graduate student in Villanova’s Combined Masters in History and Certification in Non-profit Management Program, I worked with faculty and students to developed the skills I needed to enter into the public history field. I was encouraged to pursue my unique scholarly interests by faculty, some of whom have invested a lot of time in ensuring that I make the most of my education both in and out of the classroom. Because of their faith in me, I have gained confidence in myself as an emerging public history professional, and took advantage of the rich, historical resources in the Philadelphia area. I conducted research in Valley Forge’s Collections and participated in an archaeological dig there, and worked with sources at the Historical Society of Pennsylvania and the University of Pennsylvania to create a kitchen interpretation for the Woodlands in Philadelphia. I am currently an Artillery Collection Cataloger in the Curatorial and Exhibits Department in Fort Ticonderoga, Ticonderoga, NY. Funded through an IMLS grant, I work on projects specifically related to Ticonderoga’s world-renowned 18th-century artillery collection. While I primarily study 18th-century culinary history and foodways, my interdisciplinary and hands-on experiences at Villanova prepared me to tackle a wide range of content areas and share historical narratives with the public via interpretive programming, exhibits, and digital (new) media. From completing and launching Ticonderoga’s mobile application, to redesigning and relocating the fort’s hands-on artillery lab for children and families, I work on a number of projects where I have the opportunity to collaborate with different departments and employ my training in public history, collections, material culture, digital humanities, and non-profit management.

I am currently editing a proceedings publication for Ticonderoga’s seminar on 18th-century artillery to be released in May 2018. I work with both the Director of Academic Programs and the Department of Public History to plan and execute public events and programs. In addition, I work extensively with the Collections Department on a number of different projects regarding exhibit development and cataloging objects in the collection.

I am extremely thankful for the Villanova faculty’s support and guidance, not only within the History Department, but also within the Department of Public Administration and the department of Romance Languages and Literatures, with whom I was  a tuition scholar to The Journal of Nineteenth-Century French Studies. My interdisciplinary and rewarding experience at Villanova has was one that would not be possible without my mentors, who go above and beyond to make sure students tap into their potential and take advantage of the ample opportunities for professional and personal development here at Villanova.

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.

Elizabeth Motich

I am a first semester second-year grad student and tuition scholar in the History department. I graduated Magna Cum Laude from Messiah College in 2013, having majored in Humanities. Upon graduating, I received the Clio Award, annually awarded to the highest-ranking student(s) in the History department. In 2013, I interned as an Interpreter at Gettysburg National Military Park for the battle's sesquicentennial anniversary. My academic and professional interests include the American Civil War, Civil War Gender History, Public History, African-American History, and Pennsylvania History. 

My experience in the graduate program at Villanova has been filled with exponential academic and professional growth. During my second semester of my first year, I served on a team of research assistants including Michael Johnson and James Kopaczewski to create a website about Philadelphia's nineteenth-century Institute for Colored Youth. This was a tremendous experience during which I developed research skills, increased my knowledge of Philadelphia history, and attained a deeper understanding of African American and digital histories. I have enjoyed receiving expert guidance about the Civil War and Public History from Dr. Judith Giesberg and Dr. Whitney Martinko. Following graduation in December of 2016, I plan to obtain a social studies teaching certification and/or seek employment in the interpretive division of the National Park Service.

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.

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.  

Brianna Quade

Brianna is a second year graduate student in the Department of History. Originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin she is very happy she chose to move across the country to attend Villanova. Brianna is concentrating in 20th Century U.S. history with a focus on race and ethnicity, popular culture, and urban history. She hopes to continue on to her Ph.D. in American history, hopefully in the Philadelphia region and eventually teach college or academic advising. As for her time at Villanova, it has been the best year of her life. She has gotten to know many professors in the history department who have enriched her learning and helped her to grow as a person and historian. For Brianna, campus life is welcoming and lively; every one here is friendly and always willing to help. Adjusting to graduate life was difficult but with the help of the Villanova community she has made it her home.

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.

Ann Shipley

I’m Ann Shipley, a second year student in the History Graduate program. I have a duel concentration in United States and Women and Gender History and plan on graduating in May 2016. My goal is to work in secondary education to help students find their enthusiasm for learning about History. I am originally from St. Louis, Missouri and went to Truman State University for my undergraduate career where I was involved in Residence Life, the Historical Society, and Phi Alpha Theta. I chose Villanova because of their outstanding program, the excellent faculty, and the smaller sized campus.

Since beginning the program, I have become involved with the Graduate Ambassadors where I assist the Graduate Office with their programs and events. I also have been elected to serve as the Vice President of Philanthropy on the Graduate Student Council. These programs have allowed me to meet other graduate students outside the history program and have opened the door to becoming more involved on the Villanova campus. I also had the opportunity to explore the surrounding Philadelphia area and am beginning my second year as a volunteer at Valley Forge National Park. I have also enjoyed visiting the many parks in the area as well as the many museums and history found in Center City; I’ve even gotten to tour Gettysburg with my professor, which was a highlight of the semester.

My professors have been challenging and encouraging. They have allowed me to explore my interests and have presented new topics and methods to engage in as well. I was nervous when I first began studying at Villanova, wondering if I was ready for the challenge of graduate work, but have met wonderful scholars, faculty who are excellent mentors, and a community where all are inspired to achieve their goals. 

Melissa Tracy

I am a National Board Certified social studies teacher in Wilmington, Delaware at Conrad Schools of Science, where I have taught for nine years. Due to being a life-long learner, I enjoy pursuing opportunities that require me to have a command of critical ideas and skills, and, equally important, the capacity to reflect on, evaluate, and learn from my teaching so that it continually improves. I currently teach Advanced Placement human geography, Advanced Placement comparative government and politics, world history, legal process, and personal finance to 9th-12th graders. I annually travel with my students to Model United Nations and Youth in Government conferences and I love witnessing my students develop civic awareness. I have previously taught in India, Poland, and Thailand. I am a 2014 National Hope Street Group Teacher Fellow, a National America Achieves Fellow, and I currently serve as a member of the Rodel Teacher Council with a focus on personalized learning. I am also a Delaware Teacher Institute Fellow and I was recognized by D.E.L.R.E.C., the National Council for Geographic Education, and the Delaware Geographic Alliance for my excellence in teaching social studies. In 2013, I was the Conrad Schools of Science Teacher of the Year. 

I earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Tulane University, a Master of Education degree in curriculum and instruction (social studies) from the University of Delaware, and I'm currently pursuing a Masters of Arts degree in United States history at Villanova University as a James Madison fellow. I chose Villanova for its small class sizes, affordable tuition, and the ample and diverse course offerings in U.S. history. Even though I'm a full time teacher, I have been able to complete my coursework in a timely fashion by taking classes at night. Upon completion of my degree, I will return to the classroom and teach United States history. Undoubtedly, my experience at Villanova will make me a better teacher of history. My students will certainly be the ones to benefit the most. 

Sian Webb

I grew up in Abington, Pa, and attended Villanova for my undergraduate programme, graduating with a Major in History and a Minor in Classical Studies.  The experience I had with my professors as an undergraduate made it easy for me to decide to attend the University for my MA.  The professors at Villanova are uniquely devoted to their students, and adept at helping students to carve out a path that suits both the student’s interests and the individual focus of any class.  This allowed me to specialize in the study of Early Medieval England, leading up to the opportunity to work closely with a professor as a TA for a class on Medieval England and Ireland in which I lead several class lectures.  My professors helped to build my strengths and I feel honoured to have worked with them.  This programme and my professors have allowed me to merit a full tuition scholarship at the University of Nottingham, where I will be working toward my PhD on a topic that I first became interested in from a project I worked on for my class on Late Antiquity at Villanova.