“Where can history take you?”: Careers in history panel with Jewell alumni

Image by Mr Cup / Fabien Barral on Unsplashed.

Jewell’s history department hosted a career panel highlighting history major alums and their experiences after college on March 29 at 7 pm. Alums with graduation dates ranging from the 1970s to the 2010s gave input on how they got to where they are now and the impact their history degree has had on them.  Panelists included Kenneth Southwick, Rebecca Broadbent, Sarah Bader-King and Rayn Tupino. Education Department Chair and Professor Michael Stoll and History Department Chair and Professor Daniel Kotzin were also a part of the discussion.

A common theme discussed by the panelists was the vast array of variety and options available to those with a degree in History. “One thing that Jewell does is it teaches you to examine your life and what you want to do with your life,” Broadbent explained. After graduating from Jewell in 2014 with a bachelor’s in history, Broadbent now works as a historian and resource interpreter at Watkins Mill State Park.
After starting his journey in history nearly five decades ago, Southwick now works as the executive director for School Districts of Greater KC. Southwick explained the opportunity Jewell offered him as a student to examine his future options and to tailor his experiences in preparation for his desired occupation.  “Throughout my career, I think my degree that I got through William Jewell prepared me for every next step that I’ve ever taken, and I don’t say that lightly; I really mean that,” Southwick said. “There’s so much history throughout all of that coursework and all of my experience that I think you apply all the time, and, as the famous saying goes, you don’t know where you’re going if you know where you’re from.”

Kotzin is a new History professor at Jewell and compliments the College for the freedom to create an innovative curriculum and to hold students to high standards. He, among other panelists, explained that it is knowledge and experience from the past that are the foundation for this freedom and innovation within the Jewell community. Evaluations of past experiences, they described, provide wisdom to inform decisions, create strategies for success and create a better future.

Kotzin also values the ability to present complex topics in various courses in a way that people will understand. “What’s exciting for me about being a professor is not just the research and the teaching, but also thinking about how I can teach hard topics and teach them well so people understand them,” Kotzin said. It is this engaging and motivating presentation of complex subject matter that provides Jewell students and instructors rewarding experiences that will aid them throughout their careers.

Although planning one’s path is helpful, it is certainly not always necessary. Dr. Stoll began his career without the faintest idea of what he wanted to do. He even participated in architectural internships before he tried out teaching when a position was offered to him. He describes that despite the pressure to know what your plans are, many of the successful panelists did not have this plan that people often expect. “There are all these paths in front of you. People think that they have to know what the path is gonna be and that you have to know what the next step is gonna be… I think if you listen to everybody here, the next step just popped up and it sounded great and people ran with it,” Stoll said. He describes how sometimes a person just has to utilize the opportunity offered to them. Even if it does not end up being their final destination, it is still a great chance to network, learn new skills and gain impactful experiences.

Panelists also stressed the importance of their experiences at Jewell beyond the requirements for their history degree. Former editor of The Hilltop Monitor, Bader-King, believes her communications major and journalist extracurriculars are what led her to her current career as Curator and Director of Programs at the Wornall House Museum. “I discovered that all those skills that I developed in learning how to write for the newspaper were a direct translation [to] writing history for an audience because you have to be able to write things concisely in a way that people could understand- that anybody can understand,” Bader-King said. Bader-King’s Jewell background led her to see the importance of writing in an understandable way that is accessible to the general public and not just to historians who have already studied the complex topics which she writes about. 

In addition to making historical information accessible to everyone, Southwick explains that students who are entering the field have a duty to protect accuracy of history by teaching it accurately and truthfully. “Where we are today, there are people that want to change history, that want to slant history, that want to erase part of our history,” Southwick said. “I think it’s important for all of us to immerse ourselves in what the heck is going on today and apply it to what we know about what happened in the past so we can figure out where we really want to go and from that standpoint, the relevancy of this, every one of us plays a part in this.”


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