Philip Robertson Photo

History graduate to present at conference in spring

By

Rachel Bunning

Philip Robertson has come a long way from Rocky Valley, Iowa, and has tackled many challenges while pursuing his master’s degree in history from the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies. As a father and a full-time teacher at ASU Preparatory Academy, finding the time to study was challenging at times. Luckily, Robertson had the support and drive to succeed.

“I am thankful to be at an institution that sees the value in continuing our education,” said Robertson. “ASU Prep has provided educational, financial and moral support.”

Despite the obstacles, Robertson excelled in his classes. One of his professors even nominated him to present at the Western Regional Conference of the American Academy of Religion in the spring.

“I was privileged enough to be nominated by Dr. Van Cleave with two other classmates to take part in a panel,” said Robertson. “What has been interesting is examining our papers and making it presentable to the public.”

Robertson is graduating this semester, and he answered some questions about his time at ASU.

Question: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in?

Answer: There was not really an “aha” moment when I realized I wanted to begin my history master’s. It has been something I have always been interested in since my high school history classes. There were so many aspects left out of the textbooks and I couldn’t stop asking questions. As I started my own teaching career, I tried my best to at least introduce the many different topics in history that often get left out. 

Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?

A: First, a true understanding of history is needed in our communities. Secondly, there are so many more options for history majors than just teaching. 

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: Proximity to me and the flexibility needed to work, raise a child and complete my master’s. However, I chose ASU largely because the professors are leading experts in the areas that interest me; religion, education and the American West.

Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?

A: I would not be able to pick one professor. Each professor in the history department brought forth a unique quality. Like any profession, having a variety of tools in the metaphorical toolbox is vital to success. Each of my professors pushed me to think about history in a different way. 

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: Proofread! Your professors will really appreciate it. 

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?

A: I’m an online student so I don’t make it to campus much, but my favorite online spot is the ASU Library website. The librarians and archivist are amazing. 

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: Hopefully continue teaching at the high school or community college level. 

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: Climate change and national park protection.