History Graduates: 1996-2000

What History Majors Are Doing Now

What do our history graduates do after leaving Truman? Here is a partial listing. Please send additions, corrections, and updates to history@truman.edu.


Matt Bebe (BA, 1998). I remember fondly of a couple classes I had with you [Dr. Reschly]. In fact I don’t have anything but good memories about all of my history professors and time in the program. My intention was to follow in the footsteps of my father as a teacher. He teaches religion at Trinity H.S. in St. Louis. However, going through the process of becoming certified to teach secondary it was obvious to me that teaching was not my calling.

I am a police officer for the City of Ferguson and have been with them for over five years now. Before that I worked for the government doing security at Lambert until I could get into law enforcement.

Michael Bechtel (BA, 1999). After I graduated from Truman in 1999, I served as a preceptor under Thomas Zoumaras for the “History of the Vietnam War” course at the Joseph Baldwin Academy. Following that, I lived in China working at Suzhou International Foreign Language School. After my return to the US, I worked for several years in Alumni Relations at Central Methodist University in Fayette and then at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management in Chicago. Currently, I’m a Ph.D. student in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago. I am working in the history of Central Asia in the Middle Ages from the Mongol invasions through the Timurid period.

Meredith Boyt (BA, 2000). She attended Graduate School in Education at Stanford University. She received the James Madison Memorial Fellowship, as the 2001 representative from Missouri, which provided $24,000 toward my master’s degree and a month of studying the Constitution at Georgetown University.

Joseph Bruhl (BA, 2000). I recently learned that I have been selected for a scholarship through the Army to Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government to pursue a Master’s in Public Administration! I know that I would not be in this position without your [Dr. Hanley] mentorship and training nearly a decade ago at Truman, so I also want to sincerely thank you.

I am on the last few weeks of my third combat tour, this one to Jalalabad, Afghanistan. I have been in command of Alpha Company, 1-101st Aviation Regiment for nearly 20 months and have enjoyed it as one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. Still, after eight years since I last sat in a classroom, I am eager to exercise my mind in an academic setting. This degree and this school are what I have been chasing for nearly five years. The Army has a great program to select four captains each year to attend the Kennedy School and then serve two years in the Army’s Strategic Operations division in the Pentagon, so my family and I will have the next three to four years together before we ever have to think about deploying again.

My daughter, Emma, just turned three last week and I am eager to be a father who is present and active in my children’s life. Katie, my wife, is a strong and beautiful woman, but she has been clear that she’d rather have me home than out here flying around the Korengal Valley! I look forward to making both of them happy.

I just wanted to drop you a quick note to say thanks for your leadership in the classroom. I find myself paraphrasing a key piece of advice you gave me as an undergraduate when you coached me never to feel trapped doing what I’m doing at this moment. That wisdom has been passed on to many Soldiers and officers who are trying to sort out their futures… and I always give credit to Dr. Hanley!

Sean Carney (BA, 1999). He earned a J.D. from University of Chicago, and now works for a big Chicago law firm.

Petra DeWitt (MA, 1998). I completed my PhD in 2005 at the University of Missouri, Columbia. I am still a lecturer here at the old UMR, now renamed Missouri University of Science & Technology or Missouri S&T. My work load is a bit on the heavy side as I have been teaching 5-5 with three preps for the past year, but I am cutting back to 4-4 with three preps in the next semester. Of course that left little time for much else, but I have been able to work as the editor for Der Maibaum, the journal of the Deutschheim Verein in Hermann, MO. With the hiring freeze now in effect it is unlikely that the system will turn this lecturer position into a tenure track position.

Charles Eblen (BA, 2000). He went to Columbia Law School.

Aaron Fetrow (MA, 1998). Aaron is Dean of Students at Guilford College in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Chris Flieger (BA, 2000; MAE, 2001) Taught a few years in St. Louis and then graduated from the Harvard program with an Ed.M. in School Leadership and my principal’s license. My mentor/professor at Harvard was named Superintendent of the Catholic Schools in Boston and, knowing my background in Catholic schools, asked me to work with her. I began work as the Deputy Director of Academics – working on standardized testing, curriculum, principal recruitment and retention, and professional development. In September 2010, I was promoted to Area Superintendent. I will be responsible for about 40 schools. I have also entered into a part-time program to get my doctorate. The program is an Ed.D. in Urban School Leadership through the University of Massachusetts, Boston.

Charles Foster (BA, 2000). He studied Divinity at Oral Roberts University.

Matthew Goyer (BA, 1998). I am a History alumnus who graduated in 1998 with a BA. I was the president of Truman’s chapter of Phi Alpha Theta for the 97 – 98 academic year. When I left Truman, I became the first alumnus to matriculate to the Cooperstown Graduate Program for Museum Studies. I have noted that several Truman grads have since followed the same path. While I started down the Museum Administrator path, I decided to change gears and switched to a career in interactive marketing. I currently serve as an Account Supervisor for a Kansas City firm named Intouch Solutions (www.intouchsol.com). I look forward to keeping up to date with the history department at Truman.

Christian Hakala (MA, 1997). I am currently working as a development officer at Carleton College. We are nearing the end of a $300 million campaign. I have the MA in History from Truman (1997) and the late Bob Cummings was my advisor.

Kyle Harmon (BA, 1998) worked in theater for several years; he is currently Cloud Services Engineer at Ahead LLC, an information technology and services company in the Chicago area.

Jim Hermann (BA, 1996). I graduated in 1996 and have taught history in St. Louis since 1998. I recently was awarded a Fulbright to teach in Derbyshire, England, in the Fall of 2007. I also was the lucky recipient of the 2003 Toyota International Teacher Award and the Freeman Foundation Grant in 2005. These awards took me to Japan and China, respectively. Currently, I teach at Parkway West High School and coach the baseball team.

Latosha Higgins (BA, 1996). Since graduating in 1996, I have earned my Juris Doctor from Saint Louis University School of Law and my Masters of Law in Corporate Law and Finance from Widener University School of Law and been admitted to the Georgia, Indiana and Pennsylvania State Bars. In addition to having engaged in private practice, I have held attorney and policy positions with state and local government with a focus on civil rights issues, notably the Americans with Disabilities Act, and Title VI and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Ben Jewell (BA, 1997; MAE, 1999). Ben is teaching at Lees Summit North High School.

Ryan Kincaid (BA, 1998). He acted in theaters in Los Angeles and more recently in Chicago, where he plans to pursue a master’s in library science.

Casey Kusiak (BS, 1996; MA, 2002). He is working at the Saint Louis Science Center as a gallery lead and getting master’s degree number two from SIUE in instructional design and learning technology. He is either going to pursue a PhD in interactive education or do instructional design in the private sector.

Rena Lawrence (BA, 1997). 1997 graduate of Truman (B.A. in History, minors in Psychology and Classical Studies) here. I graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1999 with an M.A. in Museum Studies (minor in Curriculum and Instruction). I have been the Museum Educator at Log Cabin Village, a 19th century living history museum in Fort Worth, TX, since 2004 (with other museum jobs between ‘99 and ‘04). I also married Bryan Lawrence (not a Truman grad) in 2004, and we were joined by our awesome son Evan in 2006.

So that’s my life in a nutshell…work, toddler, husband. I joined the Facebook group as well. As for traveling…I would love to sometime in the future when the wee one is bigger. Just not feasible right now. Hope all is well! Tell Dr. Hanley I said hello!

Shawnna Gillette Matteson (BA, 1997; MAE, 2000). I graduated from Truman with my BA in History in 1997 and my M.A.E. in 2000. I think my favorite class at Truman was your [Dr. Reschly] Amish history course that I took over the summer in 1996. How wonderful it is that you are now the department chair. I would enjoy hearing about what the Truman history department is up to. The last contact I had was when Huping Ling sought permission to use my research for her book. I look forward to hearing more from you.

Courtney (Gillenwaters) McKenny (BA, 1998). How exciting to hear that the amazing History faculty of Truman is now its own department! I have great memories of my course work there. I took many classes taught by Dr. Reschly, Dr. Hirsch, and Dr. Rose. I even remember taking a trip to a conference in Omaha, Nebraska, with Reschly and Rose. You were all such wonderful mentors.

After graduating, I spent a few years working in retail management in the Kansas City area. After getting married, I returned to school to get a BA in Elementary Education. After my son was born, I decided to spend some time focusing on raising him. My husband and I now have three children. As well as my full time mom duties, I am also the Director of Religious Education for a Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Montgomery, Alabama.

I would LOVE the opportunity to go on a study abroad program with other alumni, especially to Greece. I have been fascinated with that area since my undergraduate work. If you are looking for something state side, there are some amazing opportunities for Civil Rights tours here in the South. Montgomery is full of Civil Rights history! As a matter of fact, in a few weeks I will be attending a service at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church and my husband with be interpreting the event.

Jennifer (Ward) Minnis (BS, 1997; MAE, 1999). I am a middle school History teacher in the Blue Springs, Missouri, School District.

Susan Henderson Moore (BA, 2000). After graduating from Truman State, I attended law school at UMC. I am a senior staff attorney for the Missouri Senate. This is a non-partisan position, so I work with all thirty-four senators. I draft legislation, advise the senators, staff committees, etc. My areas of expertise are criminal law and local government.

Michael Murawski (History/Art History, Class of 2000) currently serves as School Services Director at the Saint Louis Art Museum, where he oversees the creation of programs for K-12 students to facilitate museum visits and support school curricula and establishes programs for museum educators, teachers, and docents to focus on in-depth looking, visual literacy, and critical thinking skills. Murawski previously held the position of Coordinator of Education & Public Programs at Washington University’s Kemper Art Museum, where he was responsible for the development and implementation of academic and public educational programs. Murawski received his MA and PhD in Education from American University in Washington, DC, where his research focused on intellectual development and interdisciplinary arts learning. He also attended the Getty Foundation’s Teaching Institute in Museum Education in 2007. Murawski has recently presented research and chaired sessions on museum education at the annual conferences of the Missouri Art Education Association, National Art Education Association, and the American Association of Museums.

David Newland (MAE, 2002; MA, 2005). He completed his MA in History at Truman, and worked for the National Park Service at Isle Royale National Park, Lake Superior, in the Cultural Resource Division. He has worked on various projects including a study of the history of land acquisition on the island, photography of historic buildings and artifacts, archeological digs, and environmental compliance for construction projects.

David Pennington (BS, 2000). He earned a PhD from Washington University and is currently an Assistant Professor of History, Politics, & International Relations at Webster University.

Brad Peuster (BA, 2000). I graduated from Truman in the Spring of 2000 with a BA in History. I moved from job to job looking for a career that seemed right for me (I was a manager of a Blockbuster, was a bank teller, then the guy who took your picture at the driver license office and so on). Finally, in the Fall of 2003 I was accepted in to the Graduate program at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, Missouri where I studied education. Attending part time, I completed my Master’s in Teaching degree in the Spring of 2008. Because it is a dual program, I was able to get my certification as a High School History teacher in the Spring of 2005 and continue working on my Master’s degree from there. As most new High School History teachers will tell you, finding a job is a lot like winning the lottery; it never happens to you, but to everyone you know. When job offers failed to pile up in my mailbox by the Summer of 2006, I took a teaching assistant position at Hazelwood West High School. I then went back to Lindenwood and started work on my Master’s in Education and a certification for Special Education K-12th grade, a second area of interest for me. By the end of the 2006-2007 school year, I had my Special Education certification, a job offer with Special School District of St. Louis County teaching a history/government course at Hazelwood West High School for the 2007-2008 school year. I am currently in my second year teaching for Special School District, and I will finish my second Master’s degree in May of 2009 (Masters of Education). While in the midst of all of this job switching, grad school and finding a job, I also started dating a fellow Truman alumni. We got married in the Summer of 2005 and are currently expecting our first child around May of 2009!

Rebecca Phipps (BA 1997). During my years at Truman, I volunteered at the Adair County Historical Society and discovered a passion for museum work. A year after graduation I began working as a museum curator in Kansas City, Kansas and enrolled in the museums studies program at the University of Kansas. I have worked in several area museums as a curator and executive director. My greatest achievement in my career was the opportunity to be an adjunct lecturer teaching Museum Management at KU. I now work independently as a program developer and museum consultant. I am extremely grateful for my education at Truman and thanks to Dr. Hirsch for introducing me to public history.

Eric Proebsting (BS, 2000). I went to the University of Massachusetts Boston to get my M.A. in Historical Archaeology and the University of Arkansas to earn my Ph.D. in Environmental Dynamics with a focus on history and archaeology. I just finished defending my dissertation in November, and am currently working full-time as an archaeologist at Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest. Poplar Forest is a national historic site designed to preserve, research and restore the buildings and landscape of Jefferson’s plantation and retreat home located in Bedford County, VA.

Laura Rodey (BA, 1997). I received your letter a little while ago regarding the new History Department, and wanted to send my updates. I graduated with a BA in History in 1997. I attended the University of Illinois College of Law and practiced corporate law in Chicago for 4 years. I am now pursuing a Master’s Degree in Secondary Education (History) at Northwestern University, and will graduate in the summer of 2009. I am hoping to teach History in the Chicago area (my husband and I live in Palatine, Illinois).

Ken Stull (MA, 2000). I still teach at Chillicothe HS and am in my 15th year. I teach a number of dual credit courses for both NCMC and Fayette. I still coach wrestling and track and have had many state medalists. I now have my oldest child at BYU in Utah and another three in lower grades.

Robin Summers (BA, 1997). She studied Law at George Washington University.

Dawn Vogel (BA, 1996; MA, 1998). I went to SIU to get my PhD, but didn’t end up finishing. Instead, I started a full time job as the textual editor for The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant (after a year as a research assistant), and worked there for 8 years total. In May of 2006, I moved to Seattle, and started working as the editor for Historical Research Associates, Inc., which is a consulting firm made up of historians and archaeologists. I worked as the editor for almost a year, before they offered me a research historian position, which is what I do now. We work for a wide array of clients, so I’ve learned things about many different fields than the things I studied. They’re still trying to find a Civil War or immigration history project for me to work on.