History graduate to present at conference in spring


November 26, 2018

Philip Robertson has come a long way from Rocky Valley, Iowa, and has tackled many challenges while pursuing his master’s degree in history from the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies. As a father and a full-time teacher at ASU Preparatory Academy, finding the time to study was challenging at times. Luckily, Robertson had the support and drive to succeed.

“I am thankful to be at an institution that sees the value in continuing our education,” said Robertson. “ASU Prep has provided educational, financial and moral support.” Philip Robertson Photo Philip Robertson. Download Full Image

Despite the obstacles, Robertson excelled in his classes. One of his professors even nominated him to present at the Western Regional Conference of the American Academy of Religion in the spring.

“I was privileged enough to be nominated by Dr. Van Cleave with two other classmates to take part in a panel,” said Robertson. “What has been interesting is examining our papers and making it presentable to the public.”

Robertson is graduating this semester, and he answered some questions about his time at ASU.

Question: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in?

Answer: There was not really an “aha” moment when I realized I wanted to begin my history master’s. It has been something I have always been interested in since my high school history classes. There were so many aspects left out of the textbooks and I couldn’t stop asking questions. As I started my own teaching career, I tried my best to at least introduce the many different topics in history that often get left out. 

Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?

A: First, a true understanding of history is needed in our communities. Secondly, there are so many more options for history majors than just teaching. 

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: Proximity to me and the flexibility needed to work, raise a child and complete my master’s. However, I chose ASU largely because the professors are leading experts in the areas that interest me; religion, education and the American West.

Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?

A: I would not be able to pick one professor. Each professor in the history department brought forth a unique quality. Like any profession, having a variety of tools in the metaphorical toolbox is vital to success. Each of my professors pushed me to think about history in a different way. 

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: Proofread! Your professors will really appreciate it. 

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?

A: I’m an online student so I don’t make it to campus much, but my favorite online spot is the ASU Library website. The librarians and archivist are amazing. 

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: Hopefully continue teaching at the high school or community college level. 

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: Climate change and national park protection. 

Rachel Bunning

Communications program coordinator, School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies

MA in history grad brings back memories from United Kingdom


November 26, 2018

From Prescott, Arizona, to the United Kingdom, K’Tera Bartels has taken history with her everywhere. She has always been fascinated with the stories of people, places and events. It is no wonder she finds herself graduating with a master’s degree in history from the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies this semester.

Her research primarily focuses on the United Kingdom and, after saving up the funds, she was able to go to the country to study archival materials. K'Tera Bartels photo K'Tera Bartels. Download Full Image

“Simply the chance to be in the archives, to hold and read the physical notes from meetings and correspondence nearly a century old, was incredible,” said Bartels. “The greatest benefit was the Tank Museum at Bovington, Dorset. The staff there are incredibly helpful, engaging and it was a joy to meet with them and spend time in their archives.”

She says the experience is not one she will forget quickly, and she can’t wait for the chance to go back. Although she may wait a while, as she plans to slow things down after graduating. She eventually wants to teach history to elementary or high school students.

Bartels answered a few questions about her experience at ASU.

Question: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in? 

Answer: I can definitely say I was certain of my field when I was in high school. A very dedicated history teacher helped me realize that history was more complex than I could ever hope to realize in my lifetime, and yet I still wanted to learn as much about it as I could.

Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?

A: ASU’s history faculty is so diverse, with so many different specialties: The fact that each and every faculty member could still love their field so passionately is such a contrast from what might be traditionally assumed with the title "historian" and it pushed me to consider my chosen field with new appreciation. The challenge of the master’s program also allowed me to realize that I was capable of developing my own ideas, doing the work necessary to prove my ideas and presenting them proudly to a waiting audience. As someone who has had to really develop my skills in public speaking and in communicating with an audience, the realization that I could achieve this was a brilliant moment.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: As an Arizona native, ASU is practically in the backyard of my hometown and as a large university, ASU has the resources I needed to really further my ability to do research and study.

Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?

A: As a master's student, I had a committee who all deserve some measure of credit, and I feel very fortunate to have had the wonderful committee that I did. I honestly do believe my advisor, Dr. Chris Jones, helped "demystify" the graduate process for me. Learning that I could keep up and succeed at a graduate level was possible thanks to his investment in my work. It was certainly a feature of developing my own confidence in myself, but he helped me learn that professors and students alike are human beings with their own goals, and we all have useful things to contribute. Other professors have certainly contributed to that learning process, but his introduction and assistance over the course of my program has only emphasized the real appeal of my chosen field and the possibilities for my field in the future.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: Don’t neglect people or take them for granted. Reaching out for help is an important skill in both personal and professional situations. ASU has put me in touch with incredibly dedicated individuals who have invested in me, and finding relationships, and especially maintaining those relationships, is key to surviving the most crushing moments in the semester.

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?

A: Hayden Library is a great spot, even with the construction. I’ve also fallen in love with the Ross-Blakley Hall since its recent update.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: I think the best place to start would be with families and individual communities: J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books, has set up an organization called “Lumos” that specifically aims to help communities, primarily the children in those communities, find families or homes that care for them as people, not just as an obligation. I would prefer to follow her model in offering aid to families in disadvantaged positions around the globe, giving them structure to help parents and children make better lives for themselves. Instead of trying to work through federal organizations, I believe the communities would be best served by finding ways to empower themselves. When the smallest group is strengthened, the community as a whole is made stronger, and when communities are stronger, the world can flourish.

Rachel Bunning

Communications program coordinator, School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies