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History Department

Clio Award


The Clio Award is presented to the most outstanding senior(s) for exceptional academic achievement and leadership by the faculty of the Messiah College Department of History. 

Congratulations to Natalie Burack, Katie Garland, and Amanda Mylin, the winners of the 2011-2012 Clio Award!


Natalie Burack
Katie Garland
Amanda Mylin
Janelle Schmouder
Christine Kelly

For me, learning history has been a journey from simplicity toward humility, wisdom and maturity.  As I’ve developed as a student of history, I’ve seen my understanding of the past change from relatively short, predictable narratives to something far more exciting and complex.  But my growth as a student was not quick or immediate.  It unfolded over time, through years of reading, writing and lectures, and all the while I was challenged and supported by a group of historians – the first “real” historians I’d ever known – who pushed me beyond what I believed possible into the world of potential.  And it’s to them that I owe so much of what I’ve become at Messiah.

I still recall the survey courses I took my freshman year with Professor Wilson.  From him I learned that history was so much more than a cut and dry story of the past; it was something human, animated, and authentic; something that we could think about seriously without taking ourselves too seriously as thinkers.  Sophomore year I remember my foray into classical history with Professor Pettegrew.  From now until forevermore will I think of archaeology as the dogged, scientific, but exhilarating profession that it is, one made for the hard-working adventurer who loves dirt of the Mediterranean more than the comfort of the Ivory Tower.  Junior year I remember working with Dr. Huffman, a scholar as modest and approachable as he is meticulous and effete.  He taught me the all-importance of the footnote (I still hear the voice of his German mentor in my mind as he recounted him to me: “Your text must be a leaf of prose sitting atop a sea of footnotes”) and opened my eyes to the colorful world of the Middle Ages.  Then of course there was Professor Fea, as much a doer as he is a thinker, who encouraged me to make the most of my major while handing me the opportunities to do so.  And if I could be half as enthusiastic about my work as he is about the eighteenth century then I will have done well.  I recall Professor Stoner-Eby, who can perfectly balance her good-nature with an ability to ask some of the most pointed and serious questions I’ve received in my college career.  There was also Professor Michael, who has convinced me that we must give a voice to the long-neglected subaltern.  Finally, I recall my many fond conversations with Professor LaGrand, my advisor and mentor at Messiah.  His endless patience and kind heart introduced me to one of the greatest realities of academic life: amid our learning and labor, we occasionally stumble upon friendship, and friendship has a depth all its own that enriches everything we do.

As I look ahead toward graduate school and a career in history, I wonder about new ways in which my understanding of the past will be enlightened and complicated.  I also wonder if ever will I be surrounded by a group of historians as supportive as those at Messiah were again.  Or if a more actualized me will ever be like them.  For all of this I can only hope.  For now, I better get back to work…

Caitlin Babcock
Andrew Henry
Jennifer Adams
Lucy Barnhouse

Lucy Barnhouse graduated from Messiah College in 2008.   Lucy is attending Fordham University where she is pursuing a PhD in Medieval History through the benefits of a Loyola Fellowship (full tuition, stipend, health benefits).


I don’t remember exactly when I decided to devote myself to the study of history; I do remember that illustrated children’s books were formative influences on this decision.  My ideas of what lifelong scholarship would involve were, admittedly, uninformed, and I was chiefly driven by a burning desire to uncover The Truth about Robin Hood and/or King Arthur.


The openness and enthusiasm of the History Dept. faculty helped convert my incoherent passion into a more disciplined, but no less ardently pursued course of study.  From eager cramming and first-final nerves to the rigors and delights of my senior project, exploring history was an exciting, challenging, and rewarding journey.  The tasks which seemed most harrowing at the time—the semi-panicked search for primary source materials, the pressure of (gasp!) critiquing the conclusions of established historians—have become the accomplishments on which I reflect with the most pleasure.  The occasional twinge of dismay as I unearth a relatively callow paper from freshman or sophomore year is accompanied by a feeling of immense gratitude that I get to spend the foreseeable future becoming better at what I most deeply want to do.  I enter on this next stage equipped with the tools which my Messiah education has given me: knowledge, certainly, and essential skills; but still more importantly, a grounded sense of vocation, and the comforting consciousness that there are others who share it.
Mary Lee Shade

Lauren graduated from Messiah College in 2007.  She is now teaching Latin at Greencastle-Antrim (PA) High School.


And so it goes.


“Credo me posse… credo me posse…” the indomitable Ploddus the turtle thinks in Aesop’s fable of said turtle and his sometime competitor Petrus the hare.  As the moral teaches, Ploddus understood the value of diligence and perseverance.  Search deeper and perhaps one could say that Ploddus knew that he had a purpose and certain preparation that led to that day.


In my own race, I have entered the world from which I am set apart that does not hear the words I heard in my time of college – “community, vocation, reconciliation.” I’ll be honest, the word “vocation” grows some teeth when I stand in front of a class of 37 Latin students and expound on what drives me and how I came to be there.  But I was well prepared. At Messiah, I found a dean and department of professors that daily exemplified a passion for their subject matter, integrating academics, faith, and devotion to each student’s intellectual journey. The versatility of the department (and my degree) allowed me to be professionally certified to teach a number of subject areas as well as intellectually prepared to weave interdisciplinary threads in my studies. Moreover, the department went beyond “general education” and encouraged me with opportunities inside and outside the classroom to pursue my own interests in material culture, language, and narrative.


The fact that I can say “I think I can… I think I can…” is only possible through the experiences in the History Department that have refined me; a faith that restores me; and the belief that I have a place and calling in this world.  I still ponder what course my race will take or where my finish line will end. But I’ll always look back with fondness at where it started.



Rachel graduated from Messiah College in 2007.  She began graduate work in Early Modern history at the University of Illinois in Fall 2008.


"When describing my college career to others, I often explain that I chose my majors based on the location of the departments in Boyer Hall.  While beginning as an elementary education major (the fourth floor), I quickly switched to a psychology major (the third floor) and then finally added on a history major (the second floor).  Whether I chose the major based on my dislike for climbing stairs or for my genuine love for the field, I believe that my choice to pursue history has been my most beneficial and influential decision thus far.  I have grown both scholastically and personally over the last four years as I have wrestled with the past and its effect on the present and future.  I have learned that my career and my faith do not have to be separated, but rather, my beliefs will always influence my historical views.  Most importantly, I have had the opportunity to converse, debate, and outright argue with a group of dedicated and authentic teachers and students, developing the skills to critically analyze all realms of life.


As I move on to pursue further education, I will always cherish my experiences with the history department. The faculty has taught me not only how to be a historian and a Christian, but also a friend.  I will always remember their willingness to give their time and energy to help students, both inside and outside the classroom.  Thanks to their support, I have been an intern, studied abroad, and will continue my learning in graduate school.  While my goal is to become a professor, I can only hope that I am as effective with my teaching and as devoted to my students as the history faculty.  The professors along with my close-knit group of classmates have enriched my life significantly by introducing me to new ideas, challenging my beliefs, and providing me with a variety of exciting experiences.   Looking back on my time with the history department over the past four years, I have to admit that I would have stayed with the major even if their offices had moved to the fourth floor."


Kelsey graduated from Messiah College in 2006.  She is currently in search of a social studies teaching position.

"Growing up, I had always heard that college would be the best four years of my life – it would be a time of fun, friends, and independence. I certainly found those things during my time at Messiah College, but I also grew in ways I had never expected. As a member of the History Department, I was challenged to stretch beyond my limits as a student and think about the past in ways I had never dreamed possible. The dynamic faculty introduced me to historical theory and showed me how to weave the study of history together with other areas of thought such as anthropology, psychology, philosophy, and politics. They helped me cultivate a deep passion for history and learning, which I know will continue throughout my life.


Now, as I prepare to start my own teaching career as a secondary social studies teacher, I can fully appreciate the many ways the Messiah College History Department faculty has impacted my life. They challenged me as a student and showed concern for my well-being as a fellow Christian. I can never thank them enough for all the time they gave to their students both in and out of the classroom, especially giving up their evenings and Saturdays to help with History Club events. They have been constant examples of what a good teacher should be, and I hope to model my own teaching after them. The past four years have certainly been some of the best of my life, due in large part to my participation in the History Department and the friendships I have been able to develop with the faculty and my fellow classmates."


Jeff graduated from Messiah College in 2005.  In the Fall 2006 he began a Ph.D program in Latin American History at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

"Looking back upon my four years in the history department at Messiah, I see a vast change in my goals and myself as a person.  I stumbled into the department backward, pursuing a social studies certification as a back-up plan in my aspirations to become a Presbyterian pastor.  My interest grew in history writing and postcolonial studies and I soon decided to focus my energies on those topics.  This journey led me to an interest first in South and Southeast Asia, and later in Latin America; my college career ended with a study of colonial cartography in 18th and 19th century Spanish America.

This experience studying history has allowed me to recognize several important attributes of the department.  First, each professor displayed patience, guidance, and flexibility with me, allowing me to search my own path and offering suggestions at the same time.  They frequently listened to my opinions and allowed me to mature through the pride that often comes with an increase in intellect.  Second, the department allowed students to take initiative to expand and develop, yet always remained accessible.  During my four years we were able to develop an active history club and install a chapter of Phi Alpha Theta.  Third, history professors continually encouraged interdisciplinary studies, essential in a liberal arts education and the humanities.  One such example was the development of Nouveau Salon, a student-led discussion group on cultural theory that brought in students from English, philosophy, and other majors.  On a personal level, I was encouraged to work with the Spanish department for a minor and a study abroad experience in Quito, Ecuador.  Without a professor of Latin American history, I was still able to pursue a project in that field, a testament to the flexibility and instruction of our faculty.

My time as a history major has taught me to critically engage with my faith, to write and debate, and to analyze society and culture historically.  Through classroom and personal experience with professors and other students, I have been able to relate personal faith with the broader scope of human history.  I have learned the difference between timeless and time-bound truth and realize the importance of putting cultural analysis in motion.  As I pursue graduate level education and as I critically engage with everyday life, my experiences as a history student at Messiah College help me to continually grow intellectually, relationally, and spiritually."


Ben is currently employed as reviewer for the United States Investigation Services.

"I would consider my time as a history student at Messiah College to be one of the most influentual periods in my life.  During the past four years, I learned to think differently, explore new concepts, and develop a lifetime love of learning that will most probably compel me to pursue a higher education and obtain a higher degree.  This "love of learning" of which I speak comes not solely from learning about new concepts and ideas, but from the living inspiration that was embodied in the professors of the history department."


Sarah will spend the 2006-2007 academic year as a fellow at the Trinity Forum Academy in Royal Oak, Maryland.  She has been accepted into the graduate program in history at the State University of New York at Albany and will begin coursework in the Fall of 2007.

"In high school, I liked my history teachers best, so history became my favorite subject.  Before I entered college, I had only a vague idea of what an historian could do as a career, so I matriculated at Messiah College as “undeclared.”  During the four years I spent at Messiah, the professors in the history department taught me how to develop an historical consciousness, to cull and cultivate sources, to write better, and to read more critically.  By my senior year, I knew without a doubt that God had called me to the profession of historian.  All the credit for this transformation is due to the excellent department we have at Messiah. Each professor is a dedicated educator and a scholar in his or her own right.  At present, I work with a mentor that I met during college, in the stewardship office of the Brethren in Christ Church headquarters.  It's been an interesting experience, entering "cubicle world" and leaving behind the classroom and text books.  I'm learning many things, but academia looms at the edge of my consciousness and I know that I must return eventually.  In my spare time, I've been studying for the GRE and researching MA/PhD programs in U.S. religious/education history.  I can't be more specific right now, since where, with whom, and what I want to study changes everyday."


Megan recently completed an M.A. at the Winterthur Museum Program in Early American Civilization and has accepted a job as Curator at the Whithall House at Red Bank National Battlefield, Gloucester County, New Jersey.

"I came to Messiah with the optimistic conviction that college could show me what to do with a passion for history.  That confidence was well-founded.  My years at Messiah were rewarding and fulfilling, full of intellectual and spiritual growth.  My internship was a particularly pivotal experience which confirmed my interest in public history.  My classmates within the History Department (and other humanities fields) were a source of joy and encouragement.  I made lasting friendships through classroom collaboration, group projects and study sessions.  The strong sense of community within the department springs from the sincere efforts of the History Faculty.  The professors are committed to the personal development of each student.  The faculty has changed drastically since my freshman year, but each new member has brought unique strengths and personality to our department.  And their willingness to get involved creates a dynamic, safe, and stimulating learning environment.  I am so grateful for the examples I have seen of academic integrity and Christian reflection.  Messiah taught me the cultivation of the mind can be, or should be, a relevant part of my Christian life.

Messiah prepared me for life as a graduate student.  I felt thoroughly prepared to handle the coursework and meet the intellectual expectations.  The transition to the competitive world of academia was rough, but I had a firm foundation which held steady.  In addition to covering the pertinent material, my teachers taught the value of thoughtful analysis, meaningful interpretation, and clear, compelling communication.  These are helpful principles for historians, but, even more importantly, the faculty fostered a keen sense of responsibility and stewardship –  virtues which will continue to guide and define my life." 

Jamie Binder

Jamie teaches World History and American Government at Franklin High School, Reisterstown, Maryland.

"My experience with history at Messiah was from start to finish an exciting journey of intellectual and spiritual growth.  This journey resulted in a more accurate understanding of the past and its meaning for us today, while most importantly deepening my faith.  In addition, my passion for studying and teaching history grew tremendously.  Each day I step into my own classroom and watch a diverse group of students file past my desk.  Some hang on my every word, as eager to learn as I am to share.  Others anticipate hating every moment of the fifty minute period and communicate their frustration to me quite openly.

To face the daily joys and challenges of teaching, I find confidence in the education I received at Messiah.  From history department faculty, I learned how to confront the humanity of the past and communicate my findings to others.  This skill has become essential to my success in the classroom as it has enabled me to show students that history tells true stories about real people.  When confronted with the humanity of the past, students find a point of connection, and they see that history is the only universal thread which connects people, places and times.  It is truly exciting to see students engage in historical inquiry and come away with more than just a laundry list of facts about a particular historical event or phenomena.  Instead, they take ownership of the past through direct involvement in making sense of it.

My study of history at Messiah certainly provided me with the necessary skills to engage in historical research and help my students do the same.  But more importantly, it helped me recognize the importance of faith to historical and teaching endeavors.  While faith provides humility to recognize my limitations as a historian and teacher, it also engages me to persevere in the pursuit of truth (historical or otherwise) and keep my passion for students and history alive."


Bethany recently received a masters degree in education from Columbia University Teachers College.

"The history department and faculty at Messiah College not only allowed me to pursue interests in the content and construction of history, but also encouraged me to develop transferable skills that I use in my current role as the Director of Enrollment at the Messiah College Philadelphia Campus.  Messiah's history program taught me how to analyze, appreciate, and tolerate new or different perspectives without feeling that my own convictions were threatened.  Messiah's history faculty instilled in me a deep-seated sense of justice through inquiry.  In its most simplified terms 'justice through inquiry' means thoroughly researching and verifying background information about all sides of an issue before drawing conclusions.

The program also provided a flexible curriculum that allowed me to immerse myself in contextual learning environments, such as my internship at the Atwater Kent Museum in Philadelphia and two semesters of study at Temple University through Messiah's Philadelphia Campus."


Elisabeth teaches United States History, Government, Economics, French, World History, and Geography at Cono Christian School, an international Christian boarding and day school in Walker, Iowa.  She is currently enrolled in a Master of Education program through Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, Georgia.

"I chose to attend Messiah because it was a Christian college, it was a good distance from home (Pittsburgh, PA), and I believed that it would provide me with a safe, healthy environment in which to learn and grow intellectually.  I was right on all counts.  I really appreciated my time at Messiah!  There were so many opportunities to serve, to learn, and to grow in every way.  General education classes were stimulating and I found the history department to be top-notch.  I learned so much from the various professors, especially Dr. Huffman.  During my Junior year at Messiah, I studied in Washington D.C. at the Christian College Coalition's American Studies Program.  It was amazing!  Living in Washington was such a great experience!  I made some really good friends and got 'real world' experience through my internship at the International Justice Mission.  That semester challenged me to look at the world in new ways and from new perspectives.

I graduated in May 2002 with no immediate job prospects, but was soon offered two jobs. One was an entry-level position at a think tank in Washington.  The other was a social studies teaching position at the Cono Christian School--a Christian boarding school in Iowa.  I chose Iowa and have not regretted it.  It has been quite a transition, but I've really enjoyed working with the kids and getting to use my degree in such a direct way."


Monica is working as a legislative assistant in the Washington D.C. office of Pennsylvania congressman Joseph Pitts.

"Looking back at my time at Messiah, I realize how blessed I am to have been surrounded by caring, Christian faculty who are also leaders in their academic fields.  Through classroom lectures, group projects with fellow students, and valuable discussions with my professors, I was immersed not only in the subject matter of my history courses, but also in the skills and tools historians use to analyze and make sense of the past and then communicate that understanding to others.

The flexibility of the History major allowed me to spend the spring semester of my junior year in Washington D.C. at the American Studies Program (ASP).  Expecting to put my research skill to use with an internship at the Smithsonian Institution or Library of Congress, the Lord led me instead to the office of Pennsylvania Congressman Joseph Pitts.  That semester-long internship turned into a job offer after graduation, and I now serve as a legislative assistant, advising the Congressman on a variety of topics, including foreign affairs, agriculture, and tax issues.

My background in American History, combined with a Political Science minor, has equipped me with tools that can be transferred to any number of fields or careers.  I find myself using these skills every day.  From analyzing legislation and researching complex issues, to crafting persuasive responses to constituent concerns, to meeting with lobbyists and debating a particular bill, I have the confidence that my Messiah education has prepared me for whatever I may face.  Most importantly, however, Messiah's emphasis on the integration of faith and learning has prepared me to stand for what I know to be true and defend those beliefs in the very secular environment of the United States Congress."