Department of History

 Congratulations to our 2021 Spring and Summer graduates!




American Historical Association Graduation Speeches to the Class of 2021  

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, the most widely heard program on business and the economy - radio or television, commercial or public broadcasting - in the country.

AHA president Jacqueline Jones is Ellen C. Temple Chair in Women's History and Mastin Gentry White Professsor of Southern History at the University of Texas at Austin.


Join us Friday, May 7, 2021 at 3:00pm for a Virtual History Graduation Ceremony!





B.A. in History


Kelly Arnold


"Be kind to yourself so you can be happy enough to be kind to the world."


  • Hometown: I am from Winston-Salem, NC and while at UNCW I majored in History and Anthropology and minored in Spanish.
  • UNCW highlights: I had the opportunity to study abroad in Cusco, Peru during my junior year and I've spent my summers interning and volunteering at George Washington's Mount Vernon and Old Salem in Winston-Salem. 

    During my time at UNCW I've loved being involved with different organizations and offices including Student Ambassadors and the Campus Activities and Involvement Center. I have been recognized with the Excellence in Engagement, Distinguished Engagement, and Senior Medallion awards for this involvement and I was also the A Farrell Teague scholarship recipient for 2020. 

  • Favorite area of study: My favorite area of study at UNCW was Public History, I credit Dr. Shefsiek with getting me into the major and keeping me here! He was also kind enough help me finish my four years in the Honors College by serving as my thesis advisor. My Honors thesis was about the impacts of education on institutional identity at Mount Vernon and it helped me grow immensely in my research and writing skills. (Dr. Zombek was also a wonderful committee member, and I am incredibly thankful to her as well!)
  • Reasons for becoming a history major: I have truly appreciated time and energy that the faculty of this department have put towards cultivating relationships with students in this department. I've felt so supported in my academics and my interests every step of the way and I am grateful for the environment that you all have provided us.
  • Future plans: My passion for this subject even led me to apply to the NC State University Public History grad program and I will be starting there in the Fall! I'm excited to move to Raleigh because it is the only large city in North Carolina that I have not lived in. 


Morgan Beatty


"Esse Quam Videri" (To be rather than to seem)


  • Hometown: Raleigh, NC
  • UNCW highlights:


    • Underwater Archeology Lab at Historic Fort Fisher

    Volunteer work- 

    • Special Exhibit Docent for the NAMES project AIDS quilt at Cameron Art Museum
    • Docent at the Latimer House Museum
  • Grants- 
    • Seahawk Grant 2020-2021
    • Soar Grant 2019-2020/2018-2019
    • Julia Boseman Award Nominee
  • Favorite area of study: US History
  • Future plans: Currently interviewing for jobs in the Gallery Curator field


William Laurens Pressly Browne


  • Hometown: I am originally from Raleigh, NC. 
  • UNCW highlights: I did not become involved in any other beyond-the-UNCW-classroom activity related to your academic studies, but I did take a one-credit course in Librarianship at Louisburg College before I transferred to UNC-W.  I transferred from Louisburg College, where I was awarded the Presidential Scholarship for this 2 year college.  As to finance, I would like to thank my grandfather for establishing a 529 Fund to help me pay for my education. 

    Inducted into the following honor societies: 

    • Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, Gamma Upsilon Chapter 4/24/18 
    • National Society of Leadership and Success, Sigma Alpha Pi Chapter 4/24/18  
    • Tau Sigma National Honor Society Transfer Students Beta Kappa Chapter 2/4/2020  
    • Sigma Alpha Lambda National Leadership & Honors Organization 2/4/20  
    • Phi Alpha Theta, the International Honor Society in History which I will be inducted into on 4/5/21 
  • Favorite area of study: I don't believe I had a favorite area of study. My classes were all interesting and I can't pick a favorite. 
  • Future plans: I am considering grad school, a Master’s In Library Science. I have applied to NC Central and UNC-Chapel Hill but have not completely decided that is what I want to do. 


Sophia Campana


"Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times if one only remembers to turn on the light." - Dumbledore, Harry Potter

  • Hometown: I am originally from New York.
  • UNCW highlights: I was recently inducted into UNCW's chapter of the Phi Alpha Theta historical honors society. I am also a major in Anthropology.
  • Future plans: After graduation, I plan on taking a gap year to gain some experience in the field prior to applying for a grad program in the UNC system.


Annamaria Haden


"Sure don't know what I'm going for, but I'm gonna go for it for sure" - The Grateful Dead


  • Hometown: Wilmington

  • UNCW Highlights: I had a public history internship last summer at the Old Baldy Lighthouse on Bald Head Island.  I pursued an Honors thesis Called: The Environmental History of Twentieth Century Development on Bald Head Island, North Carolina.

  • Favorite area of study: Environmental History of the American South 
  • Future plans: I am going to The University of Tennessee in Knoxville this fall for the History PhD program! 


Rebecca Holden


“With God all things are possible." - Matthew 19:26


  • Hometown: Holden Beach, North Carolina
  • Favorite area of study: I did not have any one favorite area of study but was thankful to be able to take classes dealing with a variety of regions and periods.  I especially enjoyed my classes covering the ancient world, medieval Europe, twentieth-century Europe, and modern India.
  • Reasons for becoming a history major: History has been my favorite subject since elementary school. I have always enjoyed learning about how people have lived and the events they have experienced in different times and places. I have learned so much in my history classes at UNCW. Studying history has given me a new perspective on many things and increased my understanding of current events more than I ever expected. I know that I will benefit from this knowledge no matter where life takes me, and I also just really enjoyed broadening my horizons in this way.


Drew Johnson


“If you want to know what a man's like, take a good look at how he treats his inferiors, not his equals." - Sirius Black


  • Hometown: Originally from Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Favorite area of study: My favourite areas of study were the Ancient Far East, History of Drugs in Latin America, and the Rise of Fascism in Europe.
  • Reasons for becoming a history major: One of the reasons I elected to major in history has to be those that inspired me to do so. I feel in love with several of the history professors here at UNCW. Dr. McCaffrey's introduction to World History was the first class I ever took on a college campus. I like to think that it was her introduction to this department that really set my mind into pursuing this as a major. Another reason that I elected to make this my major was because while writing and analysing history can be quite difficult to accomplish it is important that it be done. Far too much of human history has been censured in the name of "progress" or "enlightenment" and as a result many stories are simply overlooked or trampled on. I didn't want to see that patterned continued for the next generation of historians to see. I felt that it was my job as a student of history to be a whistleblower and to tell the stories that need to be told.
  • Future plans: I will be returning to Indiana for the summer before moving back to North Carolina in hopes of gaining an internship in Raleigh before pursuing a Masters in Higher Education.


Megan Lee

  • Hometown: I’m a history major and from Mount Olive NC.
  • Favorite area of study: My favorite topic is American Revolution. 
  • Future plans: I’m currently seeking employment via NC’s school systems for secondary education. I hope to obtain employment at one of NC’s schools to inspire others students with my love with history. 


Anna Lowery


"A negative mind will never give you a positive life." - Ziad K. Abdelnour

  • Hometown: I grew up in Appleton, Wisconsin, and a die-hard Green Bay Packers fan!
  • UNCW highlights: I studied abroad in Graz, Austria for six months which is where I began learning German. I am now Vice President of the German Club at UNCW. I am completing my student internship for teaching at New Hanover High School and teaching full-time AP Government and Politics and On-Level Civics and Economics. 
  • Favorite area of study: I enjoyed studying women in history and social history.
  • Reasons for becoming a history major: My favorite thing about studying history is using what I learn to better connect with people. In the classroom, this is especially important. Students are able to see themselves in the curriculum and learn other's histories, as well as their own. We are able to have conversations about the past and discuss changes that we want to see in the future. I also love geeking out with other history-lovers about events and sharing those fun exciting stories that are hidden.
  • Future plans: I am hoping to teach High School Civics and Economics in a city in North Carolina. I plan to teach abroad the following year if it is deemed safe.


Robert Murphy


“No dumb bastard ever won a war by going out and dying for his country. He won it by making some other dumb bastard die for his country.” - George S. Patton Jr.


  • Hometown: Originally from Massachusetts, I’ve lived in NC for 15 years
  • UNCW highlights: I was a founding officer of the UNCW History Club. I won a 2019-2020 Schnog Travel Award and got to complete my research domestically.  I travelled to NYC and Boston to do research on the Holocaust Memorials there.  Originally planned to go to the UK for the same idea, but COVID had other plans.
  • Favorite area of study: While I love 19th/20th century European history and Ancient Roman History, my favorite area of study is probably English and French history in the high middle ages.  Roughly the 12th to 14th centuries.   
  • Reasons for becoming a history major: The picture might not be the best or the clearest or even have my full head, but I think it exemplifies two of my favorite things: history and travel.  This is from the Colosseum in Rome and was taken about 2 years ago or so and I just love the way it looks.  
  • Future plans: I will be attending graduate school at UNCW.  I will have a European concentration, but I do not know what my thesis will be yet.


Isabelle Pereira


“Treat the word 'impossible' as nothing more than motivation.” - Donald J. Trump


  • Hometown: New Jersey
  • UNCW highlights: I completed an Honors Thesis with Dr. Hart as my mentor. The title of my thesis is “Little Boy” and “Fat Man”: The Detonation That Generated New Environmental and Social Issues
  • Favorite area of study: Environmental History
  • Future plans: After graduation, I will be moving to Fort Myers, Florida, and attending Florida Gulf Coast University, pursuing a Master's in History.


 Noah Jason Powers


“You just gotta keep livin’ man. L-I-V-I-N.”  - Matthew McConaughey (Dazed and Confused, 1993)


  • Hometown: Sanford, NC
  • Favorite area of study: Modern history with focuses on both World War II and the Vietnam War
  • Reasons for becoming a history major: I was initially a communication studies major, and wanted to become a journalist following graduation. However, after doing some journalism work, I realized that wasn’t what I wanted to do for a living. So I fell back on my love of history and decided to pursue a degree in that area. Now I’m planning to teach high school history and coach high school football. 
  • Future plans: Following graduation, I will be attending North Carolina State University to pursue my master’s in Teaching.


Jake Rawls


"Through the LORD's mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness." - Lamentations 3:22-23


  • Hometown: I am from Watha, NC.
  • UNCW highlights: This past year, I held a Student Teaching Internship at Heide Trask High School where I taught Civics and Economics.
  • Future plans: I plan to find a job as a Social Studies teacher in either Pender County or Duplin County, and help students reach their potential.


Aryn Turner


“How will we know it's us without our past?” - John Steinbeck (Grapes of Wrath)


  • Hometown: I am from North Wilkesboro, North Carolina.
  • Future plans: After graduation I will begin the Masters in Public History program here at UNCW in the fall.


 Dylan Wood


“If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.” - Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn 


  • Reasons for becoming a history major: I wanted to better understand humanity in the hopes of better understanding myself. 
  • Future plans: Considering graduate school programs at UNC, UNCW, and ULM


Gregory Wood-Verspoor


“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” - Nelson Mandela


  • Hometown: I am originally from Newport, North Carolina
  • Favorite area of study: Japanese American history
  • Reasons for becoming a history major: I chose to study history to pursue my love for the field which began when I was a child going to reenactments at Tryon Palace and historically rich areas such as Fort Macon all here in Eastern North Carolina. The main thing that I appreciate being a history major, especially here at UNCW, is that not only are the students able to bond over the stress of college life but our own unique passions for the field. Being able to share and bond over different eras in history not only gives us the opportunity to share our passion with others but learn from one another outside of the classroom. That and I have been in study groups where lasting friendships have sparked over cheesy history jokes that would not be as appreciated in other day to day conversations.
  • Future plans: I am entering the M.A.T. in Secondary Education grad program here at UNCW starting this summer. This will help not only further my education but to be able to striver closer to my life goal of being a teacher.





M.A. in History


Amanda Barbee


"It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed." - Theodore Roosevelt


  • Hometown: I am originally from Mocksville NC.
  • Favorite area of study: My favorite course that I took was an independent study on the presidency with Dr. Fain. I liked this class because that is what I am interested in, presidents was what got me into history and so having the opportunity to take a class in that was enjoyable for me. This course also helped me to know that yes this is the field that I want to specialize in and go on for my PhD in.
  • Future plans: My post-graduation plans are that I am beginning my doctoral degree at Liberty University. My focus is late 20th century presidents and politics with a hopeful/tentative dissertation of 1981: The Year of America’s Resurgence.


Andrew Craig


  • Hometown: I’m originally from Asheville, N.C.
  • UNCW highlights: WHQR Operations Fellowship; Editorial Fellow for Dr. Zombek
    • Jack and Carol Mills Scholarship; Susan Goodman Stern Fellowship; M. Tyrone Rowell Fellowship; Stamp Act Defiance Chapter of the DAR History Scholarship
    • I passed my comprehensive exams with distinction.
  • Favorite area of study: Dr. Laursen’s Animal History seminar; Dr. Gisolfi’s Civil Rights seminar
  • Future plans: I will be pursuing a PhD at UGA.


Kyra McCormick


“Wherever you go, go with all your heart.” — Confucius


  • Hometown: I am originally from Westerly, Rhode Island.
  • UNCW highlights: I was able to get experience at three historic house museums in downtown Wilmington. I’ve worked at the Burgwin-Wright House since August 2019 and started at the Bellamy Mansion in October 2021. I also did my public history practica at the Latimer House this past semester.
  • Favorite area of study: My favorite course was HST 578 History of Objects.
  • Why I chose to study history at the graduate level: In undergrad, I was fortunate to attend a school with a public history concentration that was very hands-on through volunteer opportunities and internships. Through those experiences, I knew I wanted a career in public history. Obtaining a master’s degree gets me one step closer to that goal. 


William White


"To be rather than to seem." - Cicero


  • Hometown: North Carolina
  • Future plans: Going to the University of Maryland work on an MA in Historic Preservation


Jordan Zaiser


“Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson


  • Hometown: Fayetteville, NC
  • Favorite area of study: My favorite graduate course was Dr. Usilton’s on the Black Death. 
  • Why I chose to study history at the graduate level: After receiving my BA in both history and economics, my original plan was to go to law school.  However, after taking a year off after graduation, I decided to pursue a subject that I love wholeheartedly, history.  It took a long time, but I am so glad to say that I will be receiving my masters.  I appreciate all of the professors that I have had over the years.  They are one of the main reasons I came back here for graduate school, and I am so glad I had such supportive, intelligent, caring people help me during my studies.  Thank you for everything.
  • Future plans: I plan on to continuing working my full-time job at Harris Teeter as of right now and travel as soon as remotely possible after covid.  My plan within the next year or two is to move to Raleigh and hopefully find a job teaching until I am ready and stable enough to continue my education further.

The Department of History is pleased to announce its Spring 2021 graduation winners
Moseley Award for an engaged student interested in U.S. history: Annamaria Haden
Clark Award for an engaged student interested in global history: Robert Murphy
Calhoun Prize for the best seminar paper written each semester: Katelyn Bright
Bredbenner Award for the best HST 290 paper: Grace Terry
Cashman Prize for the best M.A. thesis: Andrew Craig