Student Brant Cheeley talks about his experience in our History program for this week in We are WOU: Academics. This Donald (now Salem) resident hopes to graduate in spring 2019.
Why did you choose WOU?
WOU felt like home when I visited for the first time during the SOAR program for new students. I liked how campus felt welcoming and comfortable and how it didn’t feel like larger campuses like OSU and U of O.
Why did you choose the History program?
I’ve always been fascinated with History and I liked that Western had small class sizes that have allowed me to meet and talk with my professors about newfound interests. I liked the classes that have been offered since I’ve been at WOU because they have offered a variety of interesting topics that I would have never thought about had I not had the choice to take them.
What’s your area of focus within History?
I have a large interest in World War II, but I have not been able to take more than one class relating to that subject and have discovered new interests through other classes. Now, I focus primarily on American intervention in other countries from the perspective of the affected country.
What advice do you have for anyone considering this program?
Every professor is different and it can be frustrating at times when you’ve taken one professor more than others and are used to doing assignments or papers their way over another professor’s. Remembering this is important because you always need to be ready to adapt to change. The History program offers a variety of classes with a variety of instructors and with that comes a variety of expectations and different sets of guidelines. If you can find an upperclassman and talk to them about what you might expect in a class you want to take, I highly recommend it. Ask the professor, they are always willing to work with you and are always open to talking about any issues you might have.
What has been your favorite class so far?
Post-Colonial North Africa has been my favorite class so far, because it really opened up my mind to all the different subjects in history that I didn’t have a clue about. I knew a little bit about the topic itself but the readings in this class opened my eyes to how literature can express an individual’s perspective and be really influential. The professor’s passion for the subject encouraged me to discover a love for studying North Africa and South West Asia.
What has been one of the most challenging parts of the program?
Going from survey classes to upper division was very challenging to me. The amount of reading during the first two terms that I had upper division classes was overwhelming at first but became much easier. Coming from a high school that only taught MLA put me at a huge disadvantage too. I remember how much I struggled with Chicago style citations and style when I first had to do it, but now I love it and I can’t imagine writing any other way.
Who has been your favorite professor/instructor so far?
Although I have only had a few classes with her, Professor Goldsworthy-Bishop is my favorite professor. Every time I go to one of her classes I feel like I learn something new and take away a lot more. She really cares about the discipline of history and it is truly a joy to be in a class with a professor who gets so excited about the subject they’re teaching. She is also extremely helpful in office hours and by email, and has been a very supportive to me in the history program and even classes outside of the discipline.
Has your work in the History program changed your views or assumptions about a topic or preconceived idea?
The History program has opened my eyes to so many new ideas and topics that it is hard for me to think of one view that hasn’t changed since I started school at WOU. Mainly due to what I’ve learned in the History program, I’ve started my own blog about a wide range of topics, all of which I have gained new perspectives and ideas on because of what I’ve learned and continue to learn. Looking back at some of the first couple of papers I wrote compared to now, I can see that the program has helped me really expand my ability as a writer and helped me take new ideas and put them on paper.
For example, I did not have a specific standpoint politically when I came to Western, but now that I’ve taken a variety of classes on US History and other classes that cover our involvement in the world, I have taken a new stance that I would never had acquired if not for doing the History program.
Last but not least, what makes WOU fun?
WOU offers the opportunity to be a part of a large community that makes you feel like you still know everyone. There is a different level of connection on WOU’s campus that makes me feel at home and comfortable, which allows you to be yourself. Nothing is more fun than that.