History Alumni Profiles

Alex Ritsema '17

Legal Assistant

photo of Alex Ritsema"I have always loved history as a subject. I am drawn to its breadth in terms of all you can learn about. The outstanding history department faculty helped me make the decision to come to UP and I’ve found that my history professors here are the most in touch with current events and the world as it is today. Over the course of four years, I learned many important life and work skills as a history major. Writing my senior history thesis really helped me hone my writing, research, and communication skills. I know that the time I spent studying history at UP and being challenged by the department professors will carry over and help me in whatever field of work or continued education I decide to pursue."


Pearl Kahle ’17

English Teaching Assistant in Hallein, Austria

photo of Pearl Kahle"I knew I wanted to major in history well before I set foot on University of Portland’s campus. Growing up, I devoured historically themed books, both fiction and non-fiction and I loved my AP history and government classes in high school. When trying to decide on a university, the UP history faculty went out of their way to welcome me. Armed with a copy of the department’s student published journal Northwest Passages, I was asked to sit in on a UP history class as a high school senior. I knew right away I was in my element, completely surrounded by fellow history lovers. My four years in UP’s close-knit history department was full of hands-on research and eye-opening classes. I learned that history is far more than names, dates, and locations and that by studying the details, you can see the larger trends and arcing themes. I discovered that asking the right questions was the first step in finding the right answers. In short, I learned how to conduct real, intense research - a skill that will serve me for the rest of my life no matter where I land. After graduation, I was fortunate enough to win an English teaching assistantship through the Fulbright U.S. Student Program and the Austrian Ministry of Education. After spending the next year or two in Hallein, Austria, I plan on pursuing a doctoral degree in the hopes that one day I can join a department like UP’s as a professor of history."


Emily Dovel ’16

English teacher in Oujda, Morocco

photo of Emily Dovel“After taking the class Foundations of Western Civilization, I fell in love with the intellectual transcendence that comes with radically questioning one’s worldview. I entered UP as a shy, insecure, and naive girl from rural Idaho, but with the help of the extraordinary passion and dedication of the history faculty members, I gained the confidence necessary to embrace my own intellectual curiosity. As a history major I learned to analyze historical documents, to understand and critique ideas from a diverse set of cultures, and to express my own arguments in a cogent manner. These skills are indispensable, both for an adult in the modern workforce, and for a citizen in a participatory democracy. I remain incredibly grateful for the teaching of all the University of Portland history professors. Following my graduation in the spring of 2016, I earned a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship to teach at a university in central Turkey. However, after the military coup attempt and subsequent government crackdown in Turkey, the United States Department of State canceled the Fulbright program in Turkey. So I changed my plans, and instead spent six months studying Modern Standard Arabic in Morocco. I plan to work as an English teacher in the Middle East for the 2017-2018 school year. I have continued to study Arabic, and hope to enter a PhD program in Islamic history beginning in the fall of 2018.”


Anthony Vitali ’17

PACE graduate student ‘20
U.S. History Honors Teacher at Damien Memorial Preparatory School in Honolulu, Hawaii

photo of Anthony Vitali“If you decide to become a part of the History Department at UP, you are making a choice to become part of a family. Instead of being seen only as students in the department, history majors are seen as collaborators, academics, community activists, and friends. In the months after graduation, I’ve quickly realized how much the history faculty have helped me grow as a human being. Pushed to continuously ask deep questions, I was taught how I can use history to understand society and the world around me while my cohort of fellow history majors inspired me to become my best self through unique relationships built by high-caliber academia, memorable events, and remarkable amounts of laughter. When I look back at decisions I made at UP, my choice to become a history major is easily one of the best decisions I made. The history department ultimately inspired a passion to serve my community through historical education, a desire to advocate for social justice, and ambitions to spread human compassion as far as I could reach. Studying history at UP helped me find myself.”