Rebecca Devereaux '22
Why did you decide to study history?
History is a discipline that requires empathy, humility, curiosity and determination. I have always been fascinated by the motivations behind why people behave the way they do. History requires that I set aside my own presuppositions and allow the figures from the past to speak for themselves. Harper Lee describes this process in her book To Kill a Mockingbird, writing, “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view. Until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” Whether I am trying to understand the ramifications of the Reformation or of the Spokane Fire, history inspires me to find personal connection to the people who lived through them. History is not only a journey to understand the past, but it is an experience in which the past can transform you.
What are some of your favorite classes so far?
My top two favorite history classes so far have been Pacific Northwest History with Dr. Dale Soden and Christianity in Asia with Dr. Anthony Clark. Both of these professors are at the top of their field, which challenged me to rise in my own academic performance. Dr. Soden is gifted at teaching empathy and helping his students discover personal connection with the topics he teaches. One of the ways he does this is through the use of music. By leading his students through rousing renditions of Roll on Columbia and other songs, Soden enables his students to see the world through the lens of those who lived the American experience before us. Dr. Clark's class was my other favorite because I developed a curiosity for Asian history that I didn't previously have. Not only do I now have a better grasp and appreciation for Asian history, but, because of Dr. Clark's desire to aid his students as much as possible, I also have been able to meet and attend lectures from some of the top scholars of Christianity in Asia. As an undergraduate student, it is so exciting to have opportunities to broaden my academic view.
Tell us about a unique experience you've had or project you've worked on for your history major.
When I took Dr. Clark's Christianity in Asia class, I wrote a large research paper comparing two scholars of Christianity in China. Most of my classmates chose to write about historical figures, but I was curious about the scholars of this field. Because of my interest Dr. Clark suggested I write about Dr. Li Ji, a professor at the University of Hong Kong, and Dr. Chloë Starr, a professor at Yale. Not only did I learn much from my study of their methods and approaches to Chinese Christianity, but Dr. Clark introduced me to them. I was able to interview both of them and ask them questions along the way.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about majoring in history?
Don't be afraid to pursue your passion for history. Studying it in college completely renovated my simple understanding of this subject that I graduated from high school with. Be prepared to ask questions. Be prepared to grow as an individual.
What's your dream job?
At this point my dream job is to teach history and English in a high school setting. Of course, God might have other ideas for me, so I am flexible with the future I will have after graduation.
Who has been an important connection for you at Whitworth , and why?
Dr. Elise Leal has been one of the most helpful and supportive professors I have had at Whitworth. As my advisor, she has helped me make sure I am on track to graduate and that I am aware of all the options that are available to me. Her enthusiasm and encouragement has motivated me to commit to my studies and see just how far I can go. She doesn't just see me as another student to shepherd through the maze of registration, but she cares about me as an individual, tailoring her advice to suit my interests and needs.
What's something that surprised you or might surprise other students about the history major?
Even though the history department is small, it has connections around the world. The professors never miss an opportunity to give their students a chance to interact with other scholars and primary sources.
Why did you choose to attend Whitworth?
I have several family members who have attended Whitworth including my sister. I also have an uncle who teaches here. Being exposed to Whitworth early in my life helped me understand the culture of the school well. When I was looking at other colleges, I always compared them to Whitworth, and they would fall short of the Whitworth standard. The culture here is very relational, truly reflecting that this is an institution driven to educate both the mind and the heart.
How would you describe Whitworth?
Whitworth is a place to grow, build relationships and be challenged academically.