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From Prescott, Arizona, to the United Kingdom, K’Tera Bartels has taken history with her everywhere. She has always been fascinated with the stories of people, places and events. It is no wonder she finds herself graduating with a master’s degree in history from the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies this semester.
Her research primarily focuses on the United Kingdom and, after saving up the funds, she was able to go to the country to study archival materials.
“Simply the chance to be in the archives, to hold and read the physical notes from meetings and correspondence nearly a century old, was incredible,” said Bartels. “The greatest benefit was the Tank Museum at Bovington, Dorset. The staff there are incredibly helpful, engaging and it was a joy to meet with them and spend time in their archives.”
She says the experience is not one she will forget quickly, and she can’t wait for the chance to go back. Although she may wait a while, as she plans to slow things down after graduating. She eventually wants to teach history to elementary or high school students.
Bartels answered a few questions about her experience at ASU.
Question: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in?
Answer: I can definitely say I was certain of my field when I was in high school. A very dedicated history teacher helped me realize that history was more complex than I could ever hope to realize in my lifetime, and yet I still wanted to learn as much about it as I could.
Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?
A: ASU’s history faculty is so diverse, with so many different specialties: The fact that each and every faculty member could still love their field so passionately is such a contrast from what might be traditionally assumed with the title "historian" and it pushed me to consider my chosen field with new appreciation. The challenge of the master’s program also allowed me to realize that I was capable of developing my own ideas, doing the work necessary to prove my ideas and presenting them proudly to a waiting audience. As someone who has had to really develop my skills in public speaking and in communicating with an audience, the realization that I could achieve this was a brilliant moment.
Q: Why did you choose ASU?
A: As an Arizona native, ASU is practically in the backyard of my hometown and as a large university, ASU has the resources I needed to really further my ability to do research and study.
Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?
A: As a master's student, I had a committee who all deserve some measure of credit, and I feel very fortunate to have had the wonderful committee that I did. I honestly do believe my advisor, Dr. Chris Jones, helped "demystify" the graduate process for me. Learning that I could keep up and succeed at a graduate level was possible thanks to his investment in my work. It was certainly a feature of developing my own confidence in myself, but he helped me learn that professors and students alike are human beings with their own goals, and we all have useful things to contribute. Other professors have certainly contributed to that learning process, but his introduction and assistance over the course of my program has only emphasized the real appeal of my chosen field and the possibilities for my field in the future.
Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?
A: Don’t neglect people or take them for granted. Reaching out for help is an important skill in both personal and professional situations. ASU has put me in touch with incredibly dedicated individuals who have invested in me, and finding relationships, and especially maintaining those relationships, is key to surviving the most crushing moments in the semester.
Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?
A: Hayden Library is a great spot, even with the construction. I’ve also fallen in love with the Ross-Blakley Hall since its recent update.
Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?
A: I think the best place to start would be with families and individual communities: J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books, has set up an organization called “Lumos” that specifically aims to help communities, primarily the children in those communities, find families or homes that care for them as people, not just as an obligation. I would prefer to follow her model in offering aid to families in disadvantaged positions around the globe, giving them structure to help parents and children make better lives for themselves. Instead of trying to work through federal organizations, I believe the communities would be best served by finding ways to empower themselves. When the smallest group is strengthened, the community as a whole is made stronger, and when communities are stronger, the world can flourish.