Saint Xavier University Students

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.

Yasmine Zavala, Political Science and International Studies, Class of 2021

As a first-generation student, SXU’s close community has provided me with the direct guidance I need to surpass my goals for my undergraduate studies. I am currently pursuing a double major in Political Science and International Studies, with a minor in Latino Studies. I have been part of the Honors Program since my freshman year. I am currently a Schmitt Scholar and president of Unidos, the resident student organization for the Latino community on campus. I am also SXU’s representative for the Partnership for College Completion, which aims to close the achievement gap between low-income African-American and Latino students and their white counterparts.

The amazing advisors in the History and Political Science Department have allowed me to have engaging experiences with new literary works and fascinating guest speakers, and they have created other opportunities for me as well. I currently have an internship with an Illinois State Representative and am looking forward to interning in Washington, D.C. through the Washington Internship Institute that partners with the University.

Many professors at the University have helped me realize the importance of minority students continuing the academic journey by pursuing graduate education. With the intention of going to law school after graduation, I feel that my time at SXU has allowed me to sharpen my skills to prepare for that journey.

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.

Paige Samuels, Political Science, Class of 2019

Studying political science at Saint Xavier has exposed me to a variety of ideas, skills and opportunities that have prepared me for life after college. While at SXU, conducting independent research on the effect of foreign aid on human development in Africa, I not only gained experience doing my own research, but I also saw the impact of the work of scholars on the world. Saint Xavier’s partnership with the Washington Internship Institute gave me the opportunity to spend a semester as an intern in a law office in Washington, D.C. where I networked with many professionals in various fields from law to economics to political development. I also visited think tanks and embassies and participated in local conferences. My experiences in the classroom, in research and in working as an intern gave me the skills and confidence to pursue my goals, and I will be returning to Washington, D.C. in the fall to begin my graduate program in international development.

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.