Shaquita Humphrey-Pressley and the source of her fire

Shaquita Humphrey-Pressley

Shaquita Humphrey-Pressley was born and raised in Tacoma, Washington. She graduated this past spring from the University of Washington Tacoma with a double-major in Psychology and Ethnic, Gender, and Labor Studies with a focus in Ethnic Studies. She also is a recipient of the 2015 Outstanding Woman Award. Humphrey-Pressley will soon begin the University of Southern California’s Master’s program of Postsecondary Administration and Student Affairs. I was fortunate enough to be able to ask her questions about her academic career before she travelled across two state borders into California with her three year-old daughter. Continue reading

Graduate Honors and Dean’s List Recipients

The Social and Historical Studies (SHS) Division would like to recognize those students who received honors in the Spring 2015 Commencement program and those students who received Dean’s List recognition any quarter during the 2014-15 academic year. We are so proud of our graduates and Dean’s List recipients!

Only students who have authorized the release of Student Directory Information and whose grades were posted by April 30, 2015, are included on the Dean’s List.  


History Honors
Kaylyn Renee Brown
Jordan Woolston

Magna Cum Laude
Terra R. Curley, Ethnic, Gender, and Labor Studies
Ross Fairbrother, Ethnic, Gender, and Labor Studies
Wes McIntosh, Ethnic, Gender, and Labor Studies
Ashley A. Westerland, Ethnic, Gender, and Labor Studies
Andrew M. Wilson, History
Alana B. Zautner, Global Studies

Cum Laude
Kaylyn Renee Brown, History
Reese Cole Hentges, History
Michael John Maratas, Global Studies
Jordan Lee Woolston, History

Faculty Honors
Sean William Beireis, History

Suzette Marengo, Ethnic, Gender, and Labor Studies
Hunter Blakney, History
Ashley Douthett, Global Studies
Ross Fairbrother, Ethnic, Gender, and Labor Studies
Christeanna Friend, Global Studies
Benjamin Gibbons, History
Anita Gorbun, Ethnic, Gender, and Labor Studies
Michael Hartman, History
Michael Maratas, Global Studies
Schynequa Mathis, Ethnic, Gender, and Labor Studies
Tyler Miller, History
Jennifer Nguyen, History
Alison Marie Perkins, Global Studies
Justi Pfutzenreuter, Ethnic, Gender, and Labor Studies
Jennielyn Serdenia, Ethnic, Gender, and Labor Studies
Ashley Westerland, Ethnic, Gender, and Labor Studies
Andrew Wilson, History
Kaylyn Renee Brown, History
Reese Hentges, History
Jordan Lee Woolston, History

Phi Alpha Theta: What to do with your $45

PAT symbolForty-five dollars these days can barely buy two movie tickets and a few snacks at the concession stand, and even then the movie might not be to your liking and the popcorn too salty. Instead, imagine spending a one-time forty-five dollars on a lifetime membership to a national historic society that offers scholarship and networking opportunities with historians and professors at universities all over the country.  Members of Phi Alpha Theta have those wonderful opportunities with their forty-five dollars.

Phi Alpha Theta is a historical national honors society. The qualifications for membership are obtaining a 3.1 GPA in History and a 3.0 cumulative GPA in addition to the forty-five dollar membership fee.  “We have a lot of History undergraduates who are earning high enough GPAs to be involved but I don’t think there is enough advertising for the society,” explains Jordan Woolston, Interim President of Phi Alpha Theta at UW Tacoma. She adds, “If you are into history and research, Phi Alpha Theta is a really beneficial organization to be a part of.” Continue reading

LibicollageLibi Sundermann has been teaching at UW Tacoma for seven years.  Her courses are Modern Europe and World History. She specializes in British History but also teaches topics on Empires and Imperialism. She resides in Olympia and commutes to campus, as a lot of students and faculty do. She participates in a lot of triathlons and loves to exercise.  I recently met with Libi to ask her questions regarding her recent award of Outstanding Woman and her nomination of the Distinguished Teaching Award. She says, “It’s really easy to be outstanding on this campus because of the faculty, staff, and students that we have.” Libi has recently accepted a full-time competitive lecturer position with the SHS division–let’s all welcome her back to campus for another three years!

Congratulations on receiving the “Outstanding Woman Award” and being nominated for the “2015 Distinguished Teaching Award.” How does it feel to be recognized?

It feels great. What I thought right away though is the reason I was able to get the “Outstanding Woman Award” is because I teach on an outstanding campus with outstanding faculty, students, and staff who all motivate me to work hard. But it did feel great, I have been working really hard the past couple of years particularly on lecturer issues—I know that’s one of the points Joanne Clarke Dillman made when she nominated me. It feels really good seeing that work being noticed by the faculty and by the campus. It makes me proud and makes me want to stay here at UW Tacoma even more.

Did you see the recognition coming?

I knew that Joanne was thinking about nominating me, but I didn’t know if I would get chosen or not since there are a number of outstanding women on our campus. But I was hoping.

What does being a woman mean to you?

I have a mixed bag of answers to that. One is, I do consider myself a feminist and I think women should take full part and equal responsibility in society and be allowed to do everything as well. At the same time, I recognize that women and men are not always considered equal. Women still take a lot of responsibility for family and the home life so I think women have to work really hard to balance things if they have both of them and even if you don’t have kids, women end up taking care of relatives, taking care of their parents, more often than men do, or so it seems. I think it’s great that we’re recognized for being outstanding because most of us do work really hard and do have facets of our life that we have to balance.

Can you recall an experience where because of your gender the situation played out the way it did? What was your reaction?

The one that sticks out in my mind is the when I made a conscious decision to have a baby while I was completing my Ph.D. My husband was ready to start a family and he would have been willing to wait but I realized I was in my thirties, and I didn’t know how long it was going to take to finish my dissertation. While I think my committee members in my department took my pregnancy pretty well, there is definitely a stigma against having children while in graduate school and going on to begin your career in academia. It’s something that a lot of women have tended to put off until later. But I don’t remember anyone coming straight out and saying, “You’re making a mistake,” or, “Why, why are you doing this, this is going to affect your work.” I was scared to tell my advisor, and after I told him that I was pregnant and I was going to take a year off, two other women in my program came to me and said they were also pregnant and were really worried. I will say getting your Ph.D. is hard enough without adding a newborn to the mix but all three of us did it and we had our babies and finished our Ph.D. and moved on with our family life and career. I think there are gender stereotypes against women and women who work. I still feel guilty sometimes when I have to miss work or miss a meeting because I have to pick my son up. That said, UW Tacoma is really good about that.

Have you ever experienced gender discrimination?

You know, I don’t think I have. At least I didn’t realize it because, I mean, I don’t take ‘no’ for an answer. Nothing overt that I can think of, honestly.

Will the recognition for these two awards impact your teaching? How?

I think it will just make me work harder just to maintain the standard I have set for myself for being outstanding.  And in terms of the nomination for the teaching award, I really appreciated that. I think I am a really good teacher, but I didn’t know that I had some of the special things that someone like Ellen Moore, who won, did. She has done some really good things with getting funding, tying her instruction to broader social issues and so that motivated me to think about some bigger projects that I could possibly do in the future. So in a nutshell, it motivated me to work even harder.

What experiences in the classroom have made teaching worth it for you? Can you describe any teaching moments recently?

I think the best thing, or what makes me the happiest, is when students come to me and say that they connected something we talked about in class with something in the world around them—so that could be in another class, that could be something they witnessed in a movie, a book they read that made them think about something we talked about in class.  I have my students go to the history museum pretty often and I love it. Sometimes people take their family members, their kids, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, parents with them and they’ve had a great experience and the student has actually taught their family member or their friend about some other things we’re talking about in class. I don’t just want people to learn the history of dates and names and things like that—I want them to see how history connects to the world around them. So that’s the number one thing.

What are a few rewards and challenges of teaching for you?

I think the rewards are the students. Watching students grow, watching them become successful, watching them gain confidence in themselves—which is definitely something that happens more often at UW Tacoma. We have so many non-traditional students, particularly women who have either come back to school or haven’t started school until later because they were raising their families as well as a lot of veterans, which tend to be men, who hadn’t gone to school or who had their schooling interrupted and they often feel like they aren’t up for it because they’re older. I’ve had them say things like, “My brain doesn’t work as fast as these young kids.” Or they don’t know the technology but most of them are actually incredibly talented and they just need to be given the reassurance and the confidence to do that in the classroom—so those are the rewards.

The challenges…there’s always that student who thinks your class is boring and lets you know in the teaching evaluation, and that’s always disappointing; there’s students who don’t do well in the course; and you’re forced to give them a grade that you know they aren’t going to like—I don’t like having to do that either. I think that’s the biggest challenge for me: I really want to reach every student and so when I don’t that is my challenge. And the best thing I can do is figure out how to engage more students. But I do think that it’s not something that could be one hundred percent. There are some students who are going to come take a course because it’s a requirement and they aren’t going to like it no matter what you do.  And that’s the ongoing challenge that most of us have. Also not taking that personally—you can’t be everybody’s cup of tea.

Can you give any specifics?

Yeah, so this is always my favorite story to talk about students connecting what we talked about in class to the world around them. I had a student probably four or five years ago now. She was one of these non-traditional women who had come back to school a little later in life. And we had been talking about griots in World History I. Griots are a type of African oral historian that we talk about when we talk about Mali and we talk about how important historians were to that culture, to that society and to preserving that history. One of the things I sometimes let students do for extra credit is to go to an event on campus or in the community and then relate the experience back to the things we’ve talked about in World History. This woman went to a U2 concert and she loves U2 and she wrote the most amazing essay talking about how U2 are modern-day griots, modern-day oral historians and how learning about oral historians in this older African culture had made her appreciate U2 and other musicians who are rock musicians but also have political messages.  And that’s one of my most favorite essays from a student.


Julie Nicoletta in Chicago

shaker_wop_2015_420x236Julie Nicoletta, Social and Historical Studies Division Chair and Professor of Art and Architectural History will give a public lecture entitled, “Shaker Architecture: The Search for Order in an Age of Reform,” at the Loyola University Museum of Art in Chicago on April 14, 2015.  Dr. Nicoletta will examine the Shaker built environment and how their buildings express the group’s religious and social beliefs.  She will also discuss how the Shakers incorporated ideas from the outside world and applied them to their own buildings as a means to shape behavior.  Her talk accompanies three exhibitions at the museum:  “Gather Up the Fragments: The Andrews Shaker Collection,” “As It Is in Heaven: The Legacy of Shaker Faith and Design,” and “Order in All Things: Community and Identity in Shaker Architecture.”

3rd Annual UWT Student History Conference & 24th Annual Phi Alpha Theta Initiation

Friday, March 13, 9:00 am-4:00 pm, GWP 101                                   

Sponsored by UWT’s IAS History Faculty

Faculty Senior Paper Advisors and Attendees: Drs. Johann Reusch (Conference Founder), Libi Sundermann, Julie Nicoletta, Michael Allen, Mary Hanneman, Luther Adams, Michael Honey, David Brumbach, Floyd Churchill, Alexander Morrow, Michael Brown, and Michael Sullivan.

 Panel 1, 9:00-9:50am: American Ethnic History

Chantel J. Dixon: “New Days Turning to Old: The University of Washington Black Student Union Establishment in 1967-1968”

Michael Patrick Hartman: “A Massacre at China Point?”

Brooks Colby Weimer: “Jackie Robinson: Beyond the Baseball Diamond” 

Panel 2, 10:00-10:50am: U. S. Judicial, Medical, and Immigration History 

Hunter Christian Blakney: “John Marshall & Judicial Nationalism”

Aeron Lloyd: “Mental Health for the Everyman: World War II’s Impact on American Psychology”

Jennifer Ngoc Nguyen: “Blood Sweat and Tears: The Vietnamese Refugee Exodus” 

Panel 3, 11:00-11:50am: English and American Colonialism

Benjamin Gibbons: “The Hinterland Connection: Natural Resources and the Growth of Spokane”

Reese Cole Hentges: “The Irish Ordnance Survey’s Six Inches to One Mile Map of Ireland: Anglicization and Otherness”

Tyler Grant Miller: “1898: The Start of American Imperialism, or its End?”

Andrew M. Wilson: “The Inuit Kayak: How Aleut Technology Shaped History”

Noon-12:00-12:15 pm, 24th Annual Initiation, UWT Alpha Zeta Gamma Chapter of Phi Alpha Theta 

Panel 4, 12:30-1:20pm: Migration, Expulsion, Human Rights and Public Memory

Irina Prokopovich: “Emancipation of Serfdom in Imperial Russia during the Long Nineteenth Century, 1721- 1917”

Agnes Melnik: “From USSR to America:  Russian and Ukrainian Immigration to the United States during the Soviet Era”

Kaylyn Brown: “The Expulsion of the Chinese from Tacoma: The Lingering Effects on the City’s Chinese Urban Landscape” 

Panel 5, 1:30-2:10pm: Progress and Resistance in European Military History

Sean Embly: “The Causes of German Naval Mutinies in World War One”

Reese Kittleson: “Nineteenth Century European Conscription: The Greatest Military Revolution”

Panel 6, 2:20-3:00pm: Social Theories and the European Mind

Kurt Webb: “Alienation and Revolution:  Rousseau’s Influence on Marx”

Julie Wiley: “The Impact of Evolutionary Theory on Sigmund Freud” 

Panel 7: 3:10-3:50pm: Strategies, Perceptions and Imaginations of Social and Political Control

Ian W Clogston; “The Use of Terror as a Political Tool in Revolutionary France: July 27, 1793 – July 28, 1794”

Katherine Enfield: “Detective novels and connections to the development of police in England”

Reception Follows for Panelists and Audience Members

Papers to be presented at Phi Alpha Theta Regional Conference, Chelan, WA, April 10-11:

Tyler Grant Miller: “1898: The Start of American Imperialism, or its End?”

Jordan Lee Woolston: “The Elwha and the Columbia: Western Settlement’s Impact on the Ecology and Indigenous Cultures of the Northwest”

News about the Public History Minor

Students interested in the Public History minor, should be aware that some of the required courses are offered only every other year.

THIST 470 The Material World: Art and Artifacts will be offered Spring 2015 on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 12:50 p.m.  This course will not be offered again until the 2016-2017 academic year at the earliest.  Interested students should contact the instructor, Dr. Julie Nicoletta, if they have not taken either THIST 200 or THIST 201 and wish to take the course this spring.

THIST 430 Introduction to Public History will not be offered again until Winter 2016. After next year, the earliest it will be offered again will be the 2017-2018 academic year, so students should plan accordingly.

Julie Nicoletta, Ph.D.Chair, Division of Social & Historical Studies
Professor, Art & Architectural History and Public History
School of Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences
University of Washington Tacoma
Tacoma  WA  98402


THIST 470: The Material World: Art and Artifacts

T HIST 470 The Material World: Art and Artifacts is being offered this spring quarter on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12:50-2:55 PM.
This writing-intensive course examines material culture; i.e. “stuff,” created and used by humans to cope with the physical world. It employs interdisciplinary methods drawing from art history, historical archaeology, anthropology, and museum studies and uses hands-on study of everyday objects as a means to understand the world around us.
Although there is a prerequisite of either T HIST 200 or T HIST 201, interested students who have taken any lower-division history course at UW Tacoma or at another college or university should contact the professor, Julie Nicoletta, at to see if they are eligible to enroll in T HIST 470.