Student success stories

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Esther Rzeplinski, MA 2016Esther Rzeplinski

I completed my MA in Canadian History at UVic under the supervision of Dr. Jordan Stanger-Ross, writing my MRP about political participation in children’s letters to Pierre Trudeau.

Serendipitously, I ended up working with [mostly] children in the Parliamentary Education Office of the Legislative Assembly of BC. As the Parliamentary Education Coordinator, I lead a number of educational partnerships, assist in exhibit design and development, and plan new programs (including a partnership with the Royal BC Museum and a spring break program!).

My history degree is at work every day as I communicate the importance of Parliament and work to better engage British Columbians in our political and legislative processes. I am constantly making use of the skills honed during my MA—researching, writing proposals, and communicating the past. My history education has been fundamental to my career success thus far.

Greg Kier, MA 2014

After completing my M.A. with Dr. Zimmerman in 2014 I went back to teaching history at the secondary and collegiate levels. In 2018 I combined teaching with a career in the film industry. I currently write for two docuseries: Hitler’s Last Stand & Hell Below.

Hitler’s Last Stand highlights the actions of a company or regiment in the battles after D-Day, while Hell Below focuses on historic submarine patrols. I start the process of writing a script by spending several weeks finding and unpacking the primary and secondary sources regarding a particular day, battle, sub, company, or character. Using these sources, I weave together a character-focused story. I write the narration (voice overs and dialogue), expert pieces (talking historians), and scene design (camera focus/character direction/action sequences) to build dramatic and, most importantly, accurate episodes. Although the episodes are meant for entertainment, the network requires that every.single.line I write be annotated with at least one source. Although this concept is pretty standard for an academic paper or thesis, it presents an intriguing challenge when writing historic drama.  

Studying military, social, and global history with the professors at UVic has given me foundational skills and an appreciation for context. My thesis, under the guidance of Drs. David Zimmerman and Patricia Roy, taught me time-management, how to take criticism effectively, and how to navigate a variety of sources.  I am thankful for my time in the graduate trenches at UVic because it gave me the skills needed to juggle the elements of historic scriptwriting. 

Hell Below Trailer:

Hitler’s Last Stand Trailer:

Bryan Smith

Bryan Smith, MA 2013

I am working at UVic's Technology and Integrated Learning Department as an Educational Technology Experience Specialist. I love getting to work with the TIL team and UVic faculty and staff to facilitate online learning, to create online learning communities, and to find new resources and approaches to improve learning with technology. During my Master's Degree in History at UVic I studied how learning technologies are being used in museums. After graduating I started work in the museum field, and was fortunate to be able to try many different roles within museums, including everything from collections to administration. The Graduate Certificate in Cultural Resource Management that I took through Continuing Studies at UVic really informed this museum work, and it was because of an internship in that program that I was able to find a permanent position in a museum after graduating. While working in museums, I was also working on the side as a videographer and as a contractor helping heritage institutions develop and install educational technologies in their galleries. These side projects helped me realize that I am most passionate about using technology to facilitate learning online, and so I am very happy to be back at UVic and in my current role.

Miranda Harvey, BA 2011Miranda Harvey

My path towards my degree in history is about as haphazard as my path since completing it. The interest I had in history was uninspired academically until I took Dr. Mariel Grant’s class introducing British history. Though I was registered as a business student, I was hooked.

Four years later, I’d woven my love of British history together with my complementary interest in religion, graduating with a double major. I can still hear my dad asking me what I was supposed to do with that. While I figured that out, I found work in UVic’s Development Office after trying my hand at fundraising as a student caller.

It turns out my history degree is at work every day here. Qualifying funding opportunities, writing articles, communicating clearly and concisely – all of these skills were developed while I studied history and are absolutely integral to what I do.

Though my resume now looks a bit haphazard, having worked in nearly every area of Development over the last six years, my favourite part of the job is still researching donors and writing about their lives. Storytelling is what historians do, and I’ve been lucky enough to do that so that others can find their paths at UVic.

The path my history degree has led me down hasn’t always been clear, but it has consistently been rewarding. I navigate every turn with confidence, knowing that I have a solid foundation to build upon.

And if I had to answer my dad’s question today about what a history degree would get me, I would tell him, “Anything.”

Megan Webber

Megan Webber, BA 2010

UVic cultivated a passion for history in me and encouraged my interest in poverty, moral reform, and charity in the past.  I have continued to pursue history since graduating from UVic.  I researched charitable reformatories for juvenile delinquents as a master's student in the Tri-University Graduate Program in History.  I am now a Commonwealth Scholar at the University of Hertfordshire in the United Kingdom.  My doctoral dissertation examines how poor Londoners engaged with a variety of charities in the early nineteenth century.  While undertaking my studies, I have also engaged in public history, working with schoolchildren at historic sites and collaborating in public engagement projects.

Katie McCullough

Dr. Katie McCullough, BA 2007

I graduated from the University of Victoria in 2007 with a BA in history, focusing on British history and the history of British Columbia. While at UVic, I was the lucky recipient of the Alexander Macleod Baird Memorial Prize in Scottish History, which encouraged me to pursue graduate work. With the encouragement of Simon Devereaux, I applied to the University of Guelph (which specializes in Scottish history) to undertake an MA in the Tri-University Graduate Program in History (Guelph/Laurier/Waterloo), later joining the PhD program in 2009. In 2014 I completed my dissertation on Scottish Highlanders’ involvement in economic and social development in the British Empire in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

During both graduate degrees I had the opportunity to participate in the Guelph Centre for Scottish Studies’ community engagement and public outreach activities, providing me with skills beyond academia. It was this combination of academic and non-academic experience that led in May 2015 to my appointment as Assistant Professor in the Department of History and, come September, as Director of the Centre for Scottish Studies at Simon Fraser University. I am happy to return to BC and looking forward to teaching students Scottish history!

Jonathan Clapperton

Dr. Jonathan Clapperton, MA 2006

My master’s degree from UVic, especially the experience gained through attending the Stó:lō-UVic/USask Ethnohistory Field School, convinced me of the value of a graduate degree with a focus on Aboriginal history and the necessity of community-based research. After completing a PhD at the University of Saskatchewan, I spent two years as a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Alberta.  In Edmonton, I also taught in both the Department of History and the Faculty of Native Studies, as well as gained experience working as an expert witness on a variety of cases and other hearings, such as the Kinder Morgan transmountain pipeline expansion. Earlier this month (July), I began work at the Memorial University of Newfoundland as an Assistant Professor of Aboriginal history. Of the many aspects of this new position I’m looking forward to, I’m most excited at the prospect of mentoring undergraduate students from their first to final years, of recruiting graduate students and providing them with the same life-changing experiential learning opportunities via research assistantships and field work that my graduate supervisors gave me, and of expanding the campus’ Aboriginal engagement initiatives as well as contributing to its interdisciplinary Aboriginal studies program.

Dr. Heather Stanley, MA 2006

My history degree (and the life that it was part of) has taken me in directions I could have never guessed when I embarked on my M. A. at UVIC in 2004. Then I was focused on British midwives during the late nineteenth century and living in the “west beyond the west.” Currently I am about to begin a postdoctoral project at Memorial University (only a few kilometers from the most eastern point of our country) on the social construction of postpartum depression in Canada in the last sixty years. In between I wrote a doctoral dissertation at the University of Saskatchewan on the sexual embodiment of post-world War II married women in Western Canada. I then moved on to a postdoctoral ethnography of dementia care in the home in the Faculty of Nursing at the University of Alberta. As for my seemingly divergent topical interests, my work has revolved, and continues to revolve, around the human body, specifically the way that the body is constructed in history and how corporeal experience is influenced by historical context. As I begin this new project of research I am excited to delve into the ways that our social understandings of concepts such as mental illness, the reproductive body, and motherhood combine to influence the ways people construct and experience corporeality.


Dr. Liam Haggarty, BA 2004, MA 2006

I completed my BA and MA in Canadian Aboriginal History at UVic under the supervision of Dr. Eric Sager and Dr. John Lutz.  I finished graduate work at the University of Saskatchewan with a PhD (2015) supervised by Dr. Keith Carlson.

In 2011 I was hired by Mount Royal University in Calgary as an Assistant Professor to launch its Indigenous Studies program.  In addition to teaching Canadian and global Indigenous Studies, I also teach Canadian and American History and courses in General Education.  Since 2013, I have co-taught, with Dr. Jennifer Pettit, The People of the Plains: Treaty 7 Travel Course, an experiential class that teaches students about the peoples, cultures and histories of Treaty 7 through land-based education in collaboration with local First Nations.  Outside the classroom, I work on administrative initiatives that aim to diversify and Indigenize post-secondary curricula and my ongoing research investigates Indigenous economies and systems of sharing.  I am grateful that this work, which began at Uvic, allows me to actively contribute to reconciliation efforts in Canada and meet the educational promises articulated in Canadian treaties with First Nations.

Rob Fleming, BA 2002

MLA, Victoria-Swan LakeRob Fleming

I've always been very proud to have an association with the UVic Department of History. The department has always enjoyed a strong reputation for offering a diverse and interesting curriculum as well as excellent instruction.  In my day, History was also the place to be on campus if you enjoyed rollicking classroom debates with your peers.

The culture of the department has always been welcoming and supportive of students wanting to participate in conferences or expand their own research opportunities by collaborating with individuals and institutions off campus. For students, learning to think and work like an historian is invaluable; UVic gives its students that ability.

While I can't directly blame my history undergraduate degree for leading me into politics, I can credit the program for drilling a lot of transferable skills into me in research, writing and editing that I use every day in my job as a legislator.  Thinking, advancing and defending a position is not just useful in politics but in a whole range of private and public sector jobs, professions and leadership positions where the gathering and persuasive use of facts is critically important. I highly recommend the UVic History department to any student looking for a subject to major or minor in their studies.

Barry Gough

Barry Gough Victoria College 1956

No fledging historiancan do better than study the analytics of history, and these I learned at Vic College under legendary Professor Reginald Roy and others. I took 400 level English courses in advanced composition and semantics, thereby sharpening my skills at communication in the written word and, in the process, clearing out “the bogus” and the irrelevant. Remote corners of the Library held untold alluring treasures, and in spare hours I combed through Canadian history holdings thereby expanding my horizons. Lectures revealed all sorts of secrets, not least how to think with clarity coupled by logic. A first prize was won by researching in original documents on the theme of Canada’s cruel 1930s. I discovered that there was no substitute for hard and long hours in pursuit of Ariadne’s thread – the essential line running through a communication. Expanded horizons and writing skills learned at the College (then becoming our University) were the greatest gifts. They provided the basics for a life-long love of learning, a passion for history, a dedication to the craft, and a never-ending desire to become a teacher and a professional writer – of history and biography. This, I record with gratitude, all began in the hallowed halls of higher education in Victoria.

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