Tyler Rohrman '22
Why did you decide to study history/social studies?
One of the biggest influences as to why I decided to study history and social studies is that my father teaches those subjects at the high school in my hometown. Politics, current events, history and philosophy were common discussions at the dinner table over the years, and I naturally became fascinated with those topics and issues. While in high school I also had excellent history and social studies teachers who not only provided the core knowledge necessary for understanding those subjects but also made them exciting and relevant.
What are some of your favorite classes so far?
Each history/social studies related class that I have taken at Whitworth has helped me to engage with a different culture, history or perspective, and for that reason it is difficult to pick a favorite course. That being said, Pirates: A World History from an Outlaw's Point of View with Dr. Corliss Slack was the first time I realized how fun history could be. Dr. Slack gave me a better understanding of historical processes and world history through the unconventional lens of pirates. By viewing history from the perspective of pirates, historical figures often romanticized in contemporary culture, I was constantly in awe of how much one could learn, let alone how engaging class could be. In addition to Dr. Slack's course, American National Politics with Dr. Kathy Lee has also been a foundational experience for my development as both a student and a citizen. Dr. Lee expanded my understanding of politics and American society by exposing me to worldviews that were previously unknown to me. Furthermore, she provided perspective and analysis that helped to debunk stereotypes and assumptions about issues, political figures and perspectives.
Tell us about a unique experience you've had or project you've worked on for your history/social studies major.
While taking the Becoming a Historian course with Dr. Corliss Slack, I had the opportunity to work with my fellow historians to develop a display case that would be exhibited in the library. The premise of the project was to do our own authentic research on a piece of Spokane history. My group was tasked with Natatorium Park, an amusement park that was extremely popular in the early 20th century. The project required considerable amounts of research, time, energy and advising from Dr. Slack. Nevertheless, our group became fascinated with Nat Park's development as well as its shortcomings related to racial prejudice. The history was alive for us as we traveled across Spokane collecting primary and secondary sources. Fun fact: The Looff Carrousel at Riverfront Park in downtown Spokane was originally from Natatorium Park! Sadly, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, our exhibit was not able to come to fruition. But the lessons learned about Natatorium Park and our study of historiography (the writing of history) will stick with me well into the future.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about majoring in history/social studies?
As you learn about historical, political and social perspectives, understand that you are developing skills that will help you foster empathy and compassion. Present events, decisions and actions are rooted in past events. This is true at both a personal and global level. History and social studies will help you identify not only your own personal development, but how history shapes the development of the people, institutions and world around you.
What's your dream job?
My dream job is to work in a position, likely as a history/social studies teacher in a secondary school, in which I can share my passion of history and social studies with the next generation. I believe my calling is to empower students with the knowledge and tools necessary to be civically active on local, state and national levels.
What's something that surprised you or might surprise other students about the history major?
As a freshman, I generally understood that both Whitworth faculty and students placed a premium on relationships and community. However, I did not anticipate the community and relationships that I would find within the history department. While not surprising, history students and professors at Whitworth have been extremely supportive, compassionate and empathetic during the struggles of the COVID-19 pandemic. I have peace of mind knowing that I can lean on them as well as find signs of hope in the history that we study together.
Why did you choose to attend Whitworth?
I chose to attend Whitworth because I knew I wanted to continue my postsecondary education at a smaller university that would allow me to explore Christianity while also receiving a quality education. Whitworth was particularly attractive to me because it did not require a statement of faith from its students. Instead, the university was keen on meeting students where they are at. Resources and opportunities to grow in my faith along with a welcoming community made Whitworth feel like the natural next step for my education.
How would you describe Whitworth?
Whether it is through faith, academics, athletics or other social groups, Whitworthians exhibit a willingness to seek out new experiences, have tough conversations and ask big questions. At Whitworth, we seek to go beyond common and simple assumptions that shape our faith and worldview. Instead, we dive into complexity and explore answers from multiple perspectives. Whitworth is a place where academic debates do not exclude spirituality and religion. We embrace our faith and allow it to guide us through challenges in the classroom, on the field of play, and in the arena of life. By rising to meet challenges and embracing complexity, Pirates sail towards our goal of honoring God, following Christ and serving humanity.