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History

Through your studies you will gain an understanding of the present that is informed by history. Your courses will help you develop sophisticated writing and speaking skills; expect to write extensively. You will learn to conduct research and hone an ability to think critically about complex issues and events of the past. You may get a chance to conduct college-funded research with a professor over the summer.

Photo by Nancy Ford

A history student’s progress: rigorous work, better writing

The quality of the faculty clinched a history major for Mike Adamo ’16, starting with a Russian history class first semester with Professor Shoshana Keller. “So when I started taking a few more classes in the department, I realized how great the professors were, and I just had to stick with it,” says Adamo, who spent the summer after his sophomore year interning at the Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization.

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He’s thought about pursuing a doctorate after Hamilton, and he’s also interested in policy research. That interest was kindled at the Hamilton Institute, where he met academics who’d worked at The Heritage Foundation. At this point Adamo is still pondering what he’ll do after Hamilton. He figures he will be prepared for whatever he takes on. History is a rigorous course of study, he says, and the small classes mean professors pay close attention to student writing. That’s a good thing, in his view.  “I mean, my writing improved pretty much immediately as soon as professor Keller got ahold of me. Every new professor you take has their preferences for your writing, but you pretty much improve every step of the way with them,” Adamo says.

Jacob Sheetz-Willard '12 atop the Grand Teton mountain.

A graduate’s progress: earning a master’s, seeking to inspire

Jacob Sheetz-Willard ’12 is studying the subject he learned to love at Hamilton College – history – in a master’s program in American history at Utah State University. He entered the program as the presidential fellow for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.

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The summer after Sheetz-Willard graduated from Hamilon, he worked with high school students at an institution in the mountains in Leadville, Colo. He and the rest of the staff taught what he describes as the values of place-based education, intentional communities, human relationships and leadership.

“I’m seeking a career founded on those principles, one in which I can teach history and literature, learn from my colleagues, and inspire young people to value and preserve both their communities and their natural surroundings,” he says.

At Hamilton he minored in environmental studies and snowshoed in the nearby mountains with his Adirondack history class.

He also won Hamilton’s prestigious James Soper Merrill Prize, which goes to the graduating class member "who, in character and influence, has best typified the highest ideals of the College."