History Success Stories
Elita Jones graduated from Muskingum in 2019 with a degree in History. She earned her Master of Library and Information Science from Kent State University in 2021.
Jones is currently the Outreach Services Manager for the Perry County District Library, where she has held various positions since graduating from MU. In August 2022, she coordinated a new bookmobile service for the county, and in its early stages, this outreach has served more than six hundred Perry County residents.
In thinking about her time at Muskingum, Jones notes, “The History Department faculty and coursework helped me to develop my research and organizational skills while also teaching me the importance of considering the perspective of individuals….Creating a new service for the county means spending time figuring out the who, what, where, when, and how of bringing mobile services to the people who need them most.”
Jones connects the research training she received in the classroom as linked to the work she does now: “I need to be able to evaluate my sources and organize my findings into something usable and presentable. In addition, considering the needs and perspectives of potential bookmobile users as individuals allows me to continually adjust the service and increase the accessibility of the bookmobile and our outreach services.”
Kimberly Taylor graduated from Muskingum in 2019 with a degree in History. She recently began working as a Loan Technician in the Rural Development Sector of the United States Department of Agriculture. Much of the job centers around data entry, and Kim notes the value of her undergraduate training in her approach to the work she’s doing. “I am working with various types of documentation, accessing various different data bases, conducting customer service as well as much more….Majoring in history has helped me with this job. The volume of documents and data bases I work with on a daily basis are not as overwhelming as they might have been, if not for majoring in history and having to work with multiple documents in the past.”
Brett Lenarz graduated from Muskingum in 2017 with degrees in History, Business Management, and Economics. He is a 2021 graduate from Indiana University’s Maurer School of Law.
After graduating and passing the bar, Lenarz will be working in Marietta, Ohio, at Loughry, Buell & Sipe. He writes, “I will mostly be doing criminal defense, domestic law, and some probate law. I have interned at Loughry, Buell & Sipe since May of 2020 and it has been very helpful in preparing me for practice. I have gone to many hearings and helped draft motions and other legal documents. Before that I worked at the District 10 Pro Bono Project in Bloomington and this helped me learn how to better interact with clients.”
About his time at Muskingum, Brett says, “I think that Muskingum did a great job at preparing me for law school, especially the History Department. The History reading seminar and the research seminar were particularly helpful….I read more in the seminar than I ever did for any single law class. I also did my legal research seminar on the impact of the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye on Austria and Central Europe and how the Treaty helped lead to the rise of fascism in Central Europe. Dr. Hilton’s classes prepared me very well for this paper. I think that my History Degree in general helped improve my reading comprehension, critical thinking, and writing skills.” The History Department, he says, made his time at Muskingum “enjoyable, challenging, and rewarding.”
Molly Canfield, who graduated in 2015, with a History Major and AYA Social Studies licensure is currently teaching at Western Reserve High School in Collins, Ohio. Molly writes, “I teach Freshman World History, 8th grade Current Events, and Issues in Social Studies. I have also coached girls basketball for 5 years. I have been Freshman coach, JV coach and am most recently filling the role of Varsity Assistant.” Molly completed a Master’s degree in Teaching and Curriculum at Bowling Green State University in 2021.
Molly continues to see the value of the training she received in both the Education and History Departments at Muskingum. She says, “In terms of the Education Department, I am grateful for the fact that we were in the field from day 1. All of the field experience helped prepare me for my first years as a teacher. I have crossed paths with young teachers or student teachers, and no one has had anywhere near the field experience that I had in college.
My history courses and professors at Muskingum exposed me to new material and new ways of critically thinking and evaluating. These are skills I believe are valuable for everyone. My time as a history student at Muskingum has given me the tools to teach those same skills to my students.”
After graduating from Muskingum University in 2012, Cam Peden began his career as a compliance and safety manager for a union contractor (BCU Electric) in Ashland, OH. In 2014, he earned his Master of Public Administration from Cleveland State University. Peden worked for BCU from 2012-2021 in a variety of roles, ultimately becoming Director of Human Resources, Marketing, and Compliance. In January of 2022, he relocated to Portland, Maine to work for United Way of Southern Maine as Senior Director, Human Resources where he now also leads the agency’s internal DEI team.
While a History Major at Muskingum, Peden “had the privilege of learning from some of the brightest minds, including Dr. Hilton, Dr. Dunak, Dr. Hattingh, and Dr. Kerrigan. These educators and their classes not only enhanced my educational experience while at Muskingum, but have continued to guide me in my professional career. I developed my technical writing, critical thinking, reflection, and cultural understanding skills in those courses.” Peden credits his History training for cultivating his ability to evaluate the modern world “while remembering the past.” As he says, “I’ve found myself continually relying on those lessons learned during my time in Cambridge Hall and am grateful for those transformative days.”
In his time at Muskingum, Peden studied abroad in China, helped lead the founding of Phi Kappa Psi Omicron on campus, serving as the organization’s first President, and was inducted into Lambda Sigma and Phi Alpha Theta before graduating with Honors. Peden notes, “In short, Muskingum is one of the places who made me who I am. It’s where I became an adult, met the love of my life (Jordan Peden, ‘12), created a brotherhood, and furthered my worldly views. I’m proud to be part of the Long Magenta Line and will always remember my time on the hill fondly.”
Kate (McFadden) Smith
As an intern at the Dennison Railroad Depot Museum in the summer of 2009, while a student at Muskingum, History major Kate (McFadden) Smith got a taste for what a career in a non-profit would be like. "I learned that you need to understand every facet of how your organization runs and I was able to gain experience in marketing, education, event planning, and fund raising. I realized early on, fortunately, that public history and any non-profit field requires passion and a willingness to invest deeply in what you are doing."
After graduating, she took a position with the first AmeriCorps Local History Corps program assisting with the Civil War 150 Project, gaining the experience which led to a full- time position as the Director of Spring Hill Historic Home in Massillon, OH. After starting her family, she was able to return to The Dennison Depot as a consultant, where she now coordinates all special projects, writes grants, designs marketing materials, and plans one of the largest outreach and kids’ educational events in the area. Through this position, she has also been able to serve on the Ohio Local History Alliance (OLHA) Board of Trustees, which centers on educating museum professionals and preparing them for advocacy.
Looking back on her Muskingum experience, she writes: "After graduation [in 2010] I felt prepared to look at history on a local level and tie events into what was happening at a state, national, and international level, all of which are key when explaining to the public why your site matters and why they should support it! With any career, it takes time and effort to find your place and get into the 'groove', but the experience and knowledge I learned while at Muskingum and from the History Department ensured I was able to hit the ground running."
Gene Saunders, a 2006 graduate from Muskingum, is currently working as as a Veterans Administration & Active Duty Caseworker for Congressman Mike Turner (OH-District 10), providing administrative and IT support, staffing Congressman Turner at events he attends, and assisting with special annual projects.
He writes: "One important ability I recognized in myself early on that has followed me through two jobs, is a capacity to train myself to a level of competency in areas where I have no prior expertise. I credit this to a combination of the critical thinking/analysis skills I learned while a History major at Muskingum as well as its Liberal Arts strengths. While I did not understand or appreciate it at the time, being able to specialize in my passion (History) but also learn from other areas of academia (the General Education requirements) prepared me to be successful in a career where I have to switch my thought process several times throughout the day to accomplish many differing tasks."