History and Political Science Department

History and Political Science Student Spotlight

Our history students are active members of the Saint Xavier community. Check out some of our student profiles below to see how they see the connection between their passion for history, their careers and their lives at Saint Xavier.

Andrew Klimczak, Accounting and History, Class of 2020

I am an Accounting and History major at Saint Xavier University. When I started at SXU, I pursued an accounting degree from the Graham School of Management. About halfway through my sophomore year, I realized that I missed learning about history, as it had been several years since I had taken a history class. I am passionate about history; therefore, I added a History major, and I am glad that I did!

Since becoming a History major, I have met professors who have challenged me to think more critically and who helped me strengthen my skills in reading, writing, discussion and research. Before, I was terrified to write short essays, but now, whether I am writing about the Civil War or revenue recognition, I have the skills to do well. I have also expanded my historical interests. In high school, I had no interest in the Civil War, politics or law, but now I am excited to uncover the causes of the Civil War.

I am incredibly grateful to SXU for enabling me to pursue my two passions by double-majoring. The professors I have had the pleasure to learn from have been exceptionally welcoming and have taught me not only about history but also about pursuing my own goals in life. It is an experience I would recommend to anyone, and it has changed me for the better.

Jessica Huirache, Social Science Education, Class of 2019

Hello! My name is Jessica Huirache, and I am a Social Science Secondary Education major. I am currently finishing my internship experience as a student teacher in an amazing school that Saint Xavier has paired me with. The professors and faculty at SXU have helped tremendously in preparing me for this wonderful opportunity. I am beyond grateful for all that they have done.

The History/Political Science Department, specifically, has challenged me in ways that I could never have imagined. Through the coursework and engaging class discussions, I have sharpened my higher-level thinking abilities and a number of other skills, which I find myself applying to my life as full-time student teacher. This has helped in many different areas. However, my favorite part of being a part of SXU’s History program is how so many of the professors are willing to work with you and ensure that you succeed. They care about you. They are hard-working and passionate people that are willing to listen to you and your needs -- even beyond the academic field.

I am a first-generation college student, which means that I will be the first in my family to graduate from a four-year university. My parents were born in Mexico and they immigrated here when they were my age. They have worked hard and struggled to get me where I am today. They planted the seeds so that I may receive all the flowers. As a teacher, I want to motivate, inspire and encourage my students in the same way my parents have done for me. Every day that I participate in my internship, I get to do just that. Thank you, Saint Xavier University, for allowing me the opportunity to continue learning and growing through this experience.

Sarah Minnich, History, Class of 2019

I am a double major in History and Philosophy with a minor in Catholic Studies at Saint Xavier University. I chose to study History because the past contains precious lessons that only time and hard-fought battles can teach.

An important lesson that I have learned from studying history is that the story of the oppressed and marginalized in society is often more interesting than the prevailing historical narrative. My interest is in the unheard stories of the past. The voices of the disregarded members of society motivate me to speak up and fight on their behalf. As a historian and a human being, it is incumbent on me to speak against injustices of the past and prevent current injustices from continuing and warping our nation’s destiny. Martin Luther King Jr. once said that an “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.” He avidly fought against discriminatory laws that disregarded the dignity of an entire group of people. It was his courageous stand against injustice that has left a lasting mark on my heart and mind. His dream that America could be a place where all people are treated equally highlights the importance of fighting for those without a voice.

His call to all Americans has inspired the establishment of the Saint Xavier University Students for Life of America, of which I am the Illinois regional coordinator. Our club is dedicated to assisting pregnant and parenting students and promoting the dignity of human life from the moment of conception to natural death. Students for Life of America was established with the express purpose of promoting justice for all by abolishing abortion in our lifetime and developing student leaders that will fight for a better future. I am grateful to Saint Xavier University for giving me the opportunity to grow as a leader and for giving our club a platform to speak for those who cannot.

Denzel Averhart, Political Science, Class of 2018

Denzel Averhart

My major in Political Science has prepared me for a wide range of challenges I currently face in the Political Communications world. Due to the research and communication skills ingrained in me at Saint Xavier, I have been able to meet, and exceed, the expectations of my new co-workers.

Internship experience can single-handedly turn out to be the most important thing you do during your college career. The Washington Internship Institute gave me the opportunity to intern with the Communications team in the office of the Mayor of Washington, D.C., Muriel Bowser. While working for Mayor Bowser, I learned how to monitor media outlets, provide administrative support, and even manage aspects of her social media. With all of these new skills, I landed a full-time job as "Communications Specialist" in the office of Mayor Bowser upon completion of my internship. The classes provided by WII also opened my eyes to how much was in DC. We went to think tanks, major museums and learned how to carry ourselves as professionals. As a sophomore, I knew I should take advantage of the program, but waited until senior year. Don't procrastinate like I did! Take every opportunity you can that offers real-world experience! You will be surprised where it can take you.

Aleta Riley-Tellis, Political Science, Class of 2017

Riley TellisHow do you think your major will prepare you for your future career?

The political science major at Saint Xavier has prepared me for a wide range of careers in government and the private sector. My major allowed me to hone my research and communication skills, which has led to me pursuing a career in public relations.

What is the importance of internship experience?

My experience at with the Washington Internship Institute (WII) was nothing short of amazing. I interned with the Steinbruck Center, a nonprofit social justice ministry of Luther Place Memorial Church. My internship allowed me to personalize it so that I could develop and improve the skills that I wanted while interning there. I accompanied groups to service sites, helped facilitate educational workshops and maintained the center's online presence. By working with my internship coordinator and supervisor I got to make my own schedule and explore DC in my free time. The two courses that I took, one on international and foreign policy and the other on leadership development allowed me to learn more about the government, DC and myself. We took trips to think tanks and the State Department that allowed us to get an inside look at a part of the federal government. WII allowed me to gain valuable skills and experience that gives me an edge when entering the job market.

Lucas Ruebe, History Education, Class of 2013

Lucas RuebeI will be graduating in Fall 2013 with a B.A. in History/Secondary Education, in addition to being certified to teach at the Junior High level in both History and Biology. Saint Xavier has truly broadened my horizons on both an academic and personal level. The people that I have met over my career here have allowed me to construct a network of experiences that expands far beyond the small neighborhood on the Southside of Chicago where I was born and raised. I have met people from all walks of life and have grown as a person because of it.

My academic pursuits at Saint Xavier have sharpened my mind on many levels, and I am proud of the growth I have achieved. One of my accomplishments that I am most proud of is a movie that I helped produce about the life of Stephen A. Douglas. It was a huge undertaking that was only successful due to long hours of dedicated work by our team. The movie was an incorporation of many disciplines and it was amazing to see how all the facets fit together to form something that was pretty spectacular.

I have always loved History and hope to inspire my students with the passion that I feel. My mission is to show how relevant History is in our daily lives. History is a lot like music. Every fact and date is like a note, and while they don't mean much on their own, when taken together they become something beautiful. It is this interconnectedness that I want to illuminate. I hope to connect students to the past in order to better their future.

Trumaine Mitchell, History, Class of 2012

Trumaine MitchellI am a senior in the History and Political Science Department here at Saint Xavier University since Fall 2010 and I wanted to share a few facts about myself and what the department has to offer.

Being a history major here at SXU is worthwhile because you are able to learn about history in a number of interesting ways. One of my best experiences as a history major was taking History 200, where I learned about how historians go to different libraries and archives to do research and how they publish their research in scholarly publications. I also saw a documentary about Stephen A. Douglass that was made by SXU's Illinois History Fall 2011 class. These were great experiences for me because they showed me the varied and innovative ways that the department approaches the field of history.

When I'm not in the classroom, I enjoy watching movies, reading books, attending lectures, and visiting different libraries and museums in Chicago. I am also a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, where I participate in service projects when I get a chance. I try to apply what I have learned in my history classes to different activities outside of the classroom. For example, I am working with a few other students to start a history club. The club will focus on accessing the historical accuracy of films, books, and historical documentaries. I also recently completed an internship at the National Archives in Chicago, where I learned about how archivists carry out preservation and reference work.

In terms of my aspirations, I hope to become an African American Studies professor. My interest in African American Studies grew out of a lecture I gave in April 2012, where I looked at how hip hop culture affects the African American community. I'm currently applying for Northwestern University's Ph.D. program in African American Studies. My secondary choices for graduate school include DePaul University, Loyola University, and the University of Chicago.

I encourage all students who are undecided on a major to consider entering a degree program in the SXU History and Political Science Department. It is a challenging yet rewarding experience that will aid your growth as a college student and prepare you for a career in the professional world.