History Alumni: Where are They Now?
Jeffrey Bennett is currently employed by the Eastern Lebanon County Middle School where he teaches both 6th grade Geography and 7th grade United States History. According to Jeffrey, “I can assuredly say that the thought provoking and stimulating discussions throughout all of my History classes at Albright have better prepared and enhanced my ability to teach Social Studies. The critical thinking and discussion I was exposed to at Albright have only helped me to broaden my awareness of varying perspectives and information throughout history. Furthermore, I fondly look back on the opportunities to read different historical texts and primary sources, which have allowed me to gain better insight on how to have my students dig deeper in their readings. Finally, it is the profusely talented and entertaining faculty of the History department at Albright that I miss most. They encouraged me to learn more and reach my full potential academically.”
Emily Miller graduated from Albright College in 2012 with a Bachelor of Arts in English and History with a concentration in European Studies. After college, Emily went on to complete her Master of Arts in Historic Preservation with a certificate in Museum Studies from the University of Delaware in 2014. Since then, Emily has been working for LancasterHistory.org in Lancaster, PA as their Marketing & Development Officer. Her recent accomplishments include: managed a complete website redesign for LancasterHistory.org in 2017; selected as a Chamberlain Scholar to attend the 2017 Association of Fundraising Professionals International Conference in San Francisco, CA; accepted into and graduated from Leadership Lancaster in 2017; and assisted in the organization and operation of a successful 2018 Pennsylvania Historical Association conference.
Samuel J. Aronson is an Assistant Dean in the Georgetown University Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service in Washington, DC. At Georgetown Sam has advised students, taught classes, and served on numerous school- and university-wide committees. He has been tasked with taking lead roles in the design and implementation of three new degree programs as well as modernizations to existing programs. Outside of work Sam is a very active volunteer with the Boy Scouts of America and serves as an educator at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum where he leads both public programs and guided tours for law enforcement officers, foreign military officers, federal prosecutors and judges. He is married to George Cooper, an amateur opera singer and professional software developer for the national security sector.
According to Sam, “hardly a week goes by when I do not tell a Georgetown student, parent, or colleague about Albright and how much it shaped my life, professionally and personally. Albright’s History Department prides itself on truly meeting students where they are and providing opportunities for individual growth and formation. The faculty care deeply about each student. I spent many happy hours sitting in their offices, and sometimes living rooms, sharing my interests. Faculty mentors like Drs. John Pankratz, Guillaume De Syon, Barbara Fahy, and the late Betsy Kiddy, helped me and my peers to define and articulate our own goals for success, and empowered us to reach those goals. Classes were challenging, but supportive. Critical thinking, argument analysis, problem-based work, and effective communication skills underpinned each assignment and classroom discussion. While the formal education was second-to-none, I must note the hallmark of an Albright History education is the deeply caring investment made by the faculty in each student. It’s often said ‘history is the study of change’ so it’s no wonder history faculty take special pride in the formation of their students. I’m not being hyperbolic when I say Albright saved my life, and it wasn’t the pond or the hedges: it was the people. Albright gave me the space, and the trust, to develop into the learner and leader I wanted to become; role models where everywhere in the History Department, and I am forever grateful for their patience, their presence, and their love.
Every day I go to work at a University with thousands of more students then Albright, and that new university has become a dear space, but it will never be ‘home’ like Albright. I try to bring the kind of personal touch, which is abundant at Albright, to my current environment where students can be more anonymous then those of us educated ‘in the shadow of Mt. Penn.’ Having been educated at a small private liberal arts college, and now employed at a urban research university, I know the value of a school like Albright which places the dignity and primacy of the individual above all else.
One of my joyous moments, professionally and personally, came this past year when I was able to invite my most significant Albright mentor, Professor of History John R. Pankratz, to Georgetown’s annual Diplomatic Ball to meet some of my students. Dr. Pankratz always found time for me in his office, in his home, and in his heart. Now that I’m on the other side of the desk, whenever I sit with students I try to channel his wit and compassion. When I was able to introduce him to the young people I regularly work with I felt like a parent showing off a child to a new grandparent for the very first time. The multiplier effect of an Albright History education is nearly endless. In my office I proudly display my Albright diploma, Gold A, and a collage spelling out “ALBRIGHT” comprised of pictures from the campus. My colleague, former UN Ambassador and Secretary of State Madeline Albright, likes to say I’m a loyal co-worker putting up a banner in her honor, but I always say the most meaningful Albright in my life is my alma mater.”
Caitlin Draayer: “After Albright I went to Johns Hopkins and graduated with my Masters of Arts in Museum Studies. I started at the Baltimore Museum of Art in 2015, and my current title is Associate Registrar for Exhibitions and Loans.”
Erica Beierschmitt: “For the past 5 years I have worked for 18th Century Restorations, Inc., located in historic Coventryville writing proposals and marketing. I am the main contract for day to day client communications. We restore and preserve 18th century historic homes, barns, outbuildings, and small house museums in the Delaware Valley. We try to stay as true to the original character of the building and only modernize kitchens and baths. Our claims to fame include Rebecca Luken’s house in the Coatesville historic district, Coventry House, located in our small village (Washington stayed here!), Grumblethorpe in Philadelphia, Finley House (Radnor Historical Society), Old Swedes Church in historic Wilmington, the Mill at Anselma, Historic Yellow Springs, Joanna Furnace, the Downingtown Log House, and many more. Check out our website for more info! I also assist my boss with his other passion, antique 18th century furniture. Each year he manages and I assist with the main fundraising effort of the Chester County Historical Society, their annual Antiques and Art Show. We are mainly in charge of coordinating the 48 dealers who participate.”
Zoe Jacobs currently teaches 7th grade social studies at Lenape Middle School (part of the Central Bucks District) as a long term sub.
Jason M. Worchel (‘94): “After graduation, I attended Harvard University and earned an M.A. in Religion (‘98) with a focus on Islam. Since then, I have worked for the Federal government in a variety of positions. I am also an adjunct at Stockton University in southern NJ where I teach Introduction to Islam and Introduction to Islamic Mysticism: The Sufi Tradition. I married Deborah Davidson in 2001 and have three daughters: Margaret (15), Katie (12), and Rebekah (10).
Medieval History is my primary focus, specifically early Medieval England, Migration Period to the Conquest (410-1100). I translate the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle for fun, as my Facebook friends are painfully aware of each night around 10:00pm. Barbara Fahy was my advisor and the first story (don’t worry, there are only two) deals with Barbara.
During class selection freshman year, Barbara’s HIS 101 Ancient Mediterranean World was booked solid. I went to Barbara’s office to see if I could enroll. I told her why I wanted to take the class and that I heard she was an engaging professor. She looked at me and deadpanned, “I don’t like brown-nosers.” We’ve been great friends ever since that day.
The other story, while more serious, was just as important. It was in HIS 152 United States in the 19th Century. We were reading a paper discussing ‘Southern Exceptionalism.’ (McPherson? Zimmerman?) I distinctly remember correctly anticipating the argument the author made and thinking to myself, “I can do this. I am not dumb.” Thank you, John.
These are only two stories of many at Albright College that can only be described accurately as ‘transformative.’ Completely transformative, in the sense of alchemy, but without the magic and the results being purer. Albright taught me to read, write, think critically, and forced me to adopt a self-critical perspective, that continues the process of refining and polishing my heart and mind. All faults continue to be my own.
There is not one ounce of hyperbole in this [account]. The person I am today is due in large part to my four years at Albright College. I came in ignorant, scared, and incapable of appreciating a great many things. I left less ignorant, less scared, and open the beauty and wisdom life has to offer.”
April Kelley, ’05: “I graduated in 2005 as an American History major and learned so much in the four years I was as at Albright. Dr. Pankratz’s Heroes and Villains class taught me that history can be seen through a variety of lenses and that is something I still carry with me to this day. Dr. Ronning’s research seminar helped me understand how to develop a good research question and I remember his emphasis on good writing. Dr. de Syon’s Holocaust class was one of my most memorable classes, which included a field trip to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. I worked all four years in Gingrich Library and that experience outside of the classroom taught me much about how academic libraries and archives function. I was fortunate to work as a student assistant to Sidney Dreese when he first started as the college’s archivist, and I learned so how archives and special collections are organized and maintained, as well as how they work with researchers. The librarians and staff encouraged me to enter the library world, which partly led to my decision to pursue a Masters in Library Science at the University of Maryland (2011) while I worked full-time at George Mason University’s Arlington Campus Library as a Research, Reference, and Instruction Specialist, where I worked from 2006-2016. I also completed a Masters in History and New Media at George Mason University in 2016. Since completing that degree, I have been working as a librarian at the University of Pittsburgh’s Johnstown Campus. My favorite part of my job is working with undergraduate students to help them learn how to conduct research and take advantage of all that the library has to offer as they work towards graduation. I highly value all that I learned at Albright College and I use my own experiences to connect with the students I work with today.”
Nick Costantino: Since graduating from Albright, I’ve been teaching history the past three years at a Private school called Saint James School in Basking Ridge, New Jersey. I started teaching only grades 5 and 7, then last year added 6th, and this year I am teaching all grades 5-8. My 5th and 6th Grades cover a wide variety of World History including the Beginnings of Civilization, Ancient Egypt, Ancient China, Ancient Greece, the Roman Empire, early African civilizations, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the Reformation, and European colonization. My 7th and 8th Grades cover a wide variety of U.S. History including Colonial life, the American Revolution, Westward Expansion, the Civil War, the Progressive Era, Reconstruction, World War I, the Roaring Twenties, the Great Depression, World War II, the Cold War, the Vietnam War, and current events. In my classroom I also incorporate a unique style that includes doing improv exercises/games with my students as a warmup or a brain break that comes from my time performing it at Albright which I love to do and the students love the same. On top of teaching, I run two clubs for my school throughout the year (Improv Club and TedJr Club which comes from Ted Talks and teaching students how to deliver speeches), I supervise and assist the actors for our school play every year, I coach basketball for our school, and I also coach football for a nearby high school called Immaculata High School in Somerville, New Jersey. All of this is possible because of my time at Albright College. I was blessed to be surrounded by great friends, teachers, and coaches that helped teach me every day how to be successful and have fun at the same time. I have countless memories including playing football for Albright, performing improv and on the main stage, being a Lead Residential Assistant for a Freshmen Building, attempting to break a world record, and enjoying all the time I had with wonderful people around me. From Dr. Pankratz, I learned the value of a great discussion in a classroom that I try to incorporate every day myself. From Dr. Turning, I learned the value of being extremely organized and thorough with how a teacher should deliver the material to the students. I obviously still have a ways to go in my career, but I’m off to a good start due to a place that I still call home today.