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Our Graduates

The literally thousands of people who hold undergraduate degrees in Canadian Studies, History, and Latin American Studies from the University of Calgary are found in all walks of life. What they learned and the skills that they acquired in their undergraduate programs have served them well as they embarked on careers, undertook professional training, or pursued further education. On these pages, some of our graduates tell their stories.

If you are a graduate of one of our programs and would like to tell your story, please write to histdept@ucalgary.ca.

Our graduates make careers in many sectors: Arts and Culture, Business, Education, Government and Politics, Journalism, the Non-Profit Sector, Oil & Gas Industry, Public History, and many more.

Feature Undergraduate Alumni

Gian-Carlo Carra, BA, History (2000), Urban Design and City Councillor, Calgary

Much has been written about Calgary City Councillor Gian-Carlo Carra’s award-winning professional practice in sustainable urban design, community-building and community activism. But his thoughtful devotion to our city is a direct result of his degree in History from the University of Calgary.

First elected in 2010, Gian-Carlo firmly believes that empowered communities make a successful city. “Citizen empowerment must take place within the simultaneous context and understanding of time and place, along with an analysis of the past, the self-realization of the present, and the aspirations of the future. My History degree from the University of Calgary cemented this fact, and thus had a profound influence on me and my ongoing work.”

Gian-Carlo’s realization stemmed from the debate surrounding University of Calgary Professor Max Foran’s thesis that the appearances of the Ogden Shops and the Calgary Brewing and Malting Company, rather than the founding of the Fort in 1875 and the arrival of the CPR in 1883, led to Calgary’s rise to prominence.

“History is, always has been, and must continue to be the cornerstone of a broad-based education. It demands that its successful adherents be equally present and alive to the past, present, and future. The ability to question the du jour ideas that ignore the accumulated experiences of humanity is essential to the survival, elevation, and continued enlightenment of our species.”

October 2015

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Arts and Culture

Roda Siad, BA, History and English (2009), Documentary Filmmaker and Researcher

“The theoretical knowledge that I gained from my undergraduate courses supplemented the practical media training that I received in Ryerson University’s Media Production program. On a foundational level, my education in history provided me with the critical reasoning and analytical skills needed to conduct background research for my documentary films.” Read more...

Business

Gordon Currie, History and Archaeology (1976), Financial Analysis and Investor Relations, Calgary

“I always felt that my liberal arts background gave me an advantage in terms of being able to see the bigger picture, of having a world view. When I hear that my friends' children are going straight into engineering or business, I tease them that those are both good vocational training! A liberal arts degree is training for citizenship.” Read more...

Wade Elofson, BA, History (1998), Oil and Gas International Marketing, Brisbane, Australia

Every day I am able to use the analytical and communication abilities that I cultivated while studying history at the University of Calgary. I now hire marketing people for my own company and I have found that applicants who have done history at the university level often compete well in the business world.” Read more...

Greg Stone, BA Hons, History (2003), Government Relations, Oil and Gas Sector

"The University of Calgary undergraduate history program attracted individuals of this sort and it encouraged and developed them before sending them into the world to be excellent and to do excellent things in every theatre. Experiencing the value of that level of humanism has shaped my own drive to serve and excel, both in my career and my community, ever since.”Read more...

Andrew Varsanyi, BA, History and Political Science (2007); MA, History (2014); Director, Business Development   

“[T]he skills and habits I formed as a history student really paid off. In having to learn a whole new type of business – the massively complicated oil and gas industry – my research background helped a great deal. Although, I still feel that I know perhaps 5% of the world I now work in, I have the tools to learn more about it, and put them to use every day.Read more...

Education

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Government and Politics

Mike Brown, BA, History (2008), Government and Politics, Edmonton

“I am now about to transition roles again and move into a new challenge working in the office of Alberta's Minister of Finance at the Alberta Legislature in Edmonton. I owe much of my knowledge and passion for policy to my time in the history program at the U of C. While graduates may not work strictly in the field of history, the program and degree offers so many other tangible skills that employers desire..” Read more...

Gian-Carlo Carra, BA, History (2000), Urban Design and City Councillor, Calgary

"Citizen empowerment must take place within the simultaneous context and understanding of time and place, along with an analysis of the past, the self-realization of the present, and the aspirations of the future. My History degree from the University of Calgary cemented this fact, and thus had a profound influence on me and my ongoing work” Read more...

Jennifer (Muza) Stone, BA, History and International Relations (2003), Business Strategist, Municipal Government

"Not only did the University of Calgary History Department foster and progress my knowledge of the field, it also instilled in me a desire for life-long learning and continuous development. It was during my time as an undergraduate that I developed critical reasoning and analytical skills as well as the capacity for solving problems and thinking creatively." Read more...

Journalism

Bernard Graham, BA Hons, Canadian Studies (1992), Executive Producer, Radio Current Affairs, CBC Calgary

"When I enrolled at the U of C, I already possessed a broadcasting diploma. I had worked at CBC Calgary for several years.... My career goal was to become a senior editorial leader at the CBC. To achieve it, I knew that a degree would be required to prove my skills in the areas of information gathering, analysis, and critical thinking.... I chose Canadian Studies because of its rich mixture of courses that focus on history, political science and media studies." Read more...

David Gray, BA, History (1998), Journalism; Host, Calgary Eyeopener

"So many graduates of the social sciences struggle to answer the cocktail party question "have you ever really used your degree?" That's an easy one for me-- I'm still living it. Journalism is history on the run; imperfect, striving, and often objectionable.” Read more...

Military

Sean Coughlan, BA, History (2013), Officer, Canadian Armed Forces, Edmonton

As a leader it behooves one to know where other people have erred or overcome adverse conditions in the past. Every day we are learning and researching better ways to accomplish the objectives put before us. Every day of my career I have used the skills I learnt as a history student. The University of Calgary, and more specifically the Department of History, set me up for the successes that I enjoy today.Read more...

Not for Profit

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Oil and Gas Industry

Joe Brindle BA History (1992), BSc Chemical Engineering

Graduating from high school, I had two main passions: science and history.  I had the good fortune to end  up pursuing history before I found myself too entrenched in my other passion, but eventually I ended up pursuing and completing a second undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering.  Read More...

Public History

David Finch, MA, History (1985), Public Historian, Calgary

“While completing my MA in Post-Confederation History at the University of Calgary, I began writing the first of more than 20 books about the history of the Canadian West. An expert in petroleum and technological history, I also write biographies, articles and columns and as well as for museums and the movies. I consult to government organizations, professional associations, corporations and the public and have appeared as an independent expert witness in the areas of coal, petroleum and electricity." Read more...

Michael J. Neufeld, BA Hons, History (1974), Senior Curator, Space History Department, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

My B.A. (Honors) from the History Department has been the foundation for my later career. It provided a very good training that allowed me to go on and get an M.A. from UBC and an M.A. and Ph.D. from the Johns Hopkins University. What subsequently transpired is testimony to the fact that being a history professor is not the only option for a PhD.Read more...

More of our Undergraduate Alumni

Mike Brown, BA, History (2008),  Government and Politics, Edmonton

I finished my BA in history in 2008 and have put the analytical, writing, and critical thinking skills I learned over the course of my degree to work in the fields of politics and policy. In 2010 I was hired to work for the then Leader of Official Opposition in his Calgary office. My background in Canadian political and social history helped me understand some of the deeper background and context of many of the political issues I was to work on. As the Opposition Leader was shifted around many portfolios my knowledge needed to be wide. From there I took a position with a Calgary non-profit organization and worked on policy advocacy and government relations for them. Over my three years i that role I put to use and further developed my skill set in policy research, writing, and media relations. I took the lead on the policy issue of payday lending and have provided input on how the government can better regulate these businesses. This all culminated in November 2015 when Calgary City Council voted to implement a policy recommendation my organization had made on this issue. Provincial change is expected to follow.

I am now about to transition roles again and move into a new challenge working in the office of Alberta's Minister of Finance at the Alberta Legislature in Edmonton. I owe much of my knowledge and passion for policy to my time in the history program at the U of C. While graduates may not work strictly in the field of history, the program and degree offers so many other tangible skills that employers desire.

November 2015

Sean Coughlan, BA, History (2013), Officer, Canadian Armed Forces, Edmonton

I graduated from the University of Calgary, Department of History, with a concentration in Military History and Diplomatic Studies, in May 2013. I was a slightly different case then most students as I was enrolled in the Regular Officer Training Program through the Canadian Armed Forces. My degree fulfilled a requirement for me to receive my commission within the CAF.

I am currently employed as an Armoured Officer, Troop Leader (A.K.A Tank Commander) of 1st Troop, A Squadron, Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians), in Edmonton, Alberta. I have held this position since August 2014. I manage 15 other personnel and command 4 Leopard 2 A4/A4M tanks and 1 Leopard C2 tank … not to mention I get to cruise around in, and fire a tank. The job so far has been incredibly fulfilling. It has its fair share of high stress moments when deadlines need to be met RIGHT NOW, and you are running on 2-4 hours of sleep a night , and all of the coffee, over the course of 3-5 weeks (much like the last 3-5 weeks of the semester, when those papers you have been putting off are due tomorrow). There are also weeks when work is slow and laid back much like the first half of the semester for most history students. I have had the opportunity now to work across the country in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, St. Jean sur Richelieu, Suffield, Wainwright, Shilo, and Gagetown. I have had the opportunity to meet and work with people from all over the world including the U.S.A., UK, Poland, Germany, and Chile. I will also be going down to Chile this December for a reciprocal unit exchange with the Chilean Armoured School (CECOMBAC).

The connections between my chosen degree / concentration, and my current job should be quite obvious and I can assure you they have benefitted me up to this point. One of the most important principles instated within the military is lessons learned. After every exercise, every mission, every operation, we conduct an After Action Review so that we may learn from both successes and mistakes made throughout. As a leader it behooves one to know where other people have erred or overcome adverse conditions in the past. Every day we are learning and researching better ways to accomplish the objectives put before us. Every day of my career I have used the skills I learnt as a history student. The University of Calgary, and more specifically the Department of History, set me up for the successes that I enjoy today.

Photo: 1st Troop, Cavalry Squadron, Lord Strathcona’s Horse (Royal Canadians) Opposing Force Battle Group, Exercise MAPLE RESOLVE 2015. Canadian Maneuver Training Centre, Wainwright, Alberta.

November 2015

Gordon Currie, History and Archaeology (1976), Financial Analysis and Investor Relations, Calgary

I studied Archaeology and History at the University of Calgary in the 1970's and then decided to get either a law degree or an MBA. The MBA won out. During a career of more than 30 years I worked as a landman, as a financial analyst, as an investor relations officer, and most recently as a Sessional Instructor at Haskayne. I always felt that my liberal arts background gave me an advantage in terms of being able to see the bigger picture, of having a world view. When I hear that my friends' children are going straight into engineering or business, I tease them that those are both good vocational training! A liberal arts degree is training for citizenship. Because I am such a big believer in post-secondary education, I volunteered for the University Senate where I served for six years, and for three of those years I acted at Senate's representative on the Board of Governors – a wonderful experience where I met so many good people, including Margaret MacMillan when she came to receive an honourary degree. Roughly in parallel to my time at the University, I was invited to join the Board of Directors of the Alpine Club of Canada (mountain climbing), and having served as Treasurer and Secretary, I am now the President. My education has served me well, and in ways I would never imagined when I was a student.  I continue to read history at every opportunity. History gives us perspective, and sometimes the stories are more amazing than anything you could make up!

November 2015

Wade Elofson, BA, History (1998), Oil and Gas International Marketing, Brisbane, Australia

My BA in History has always served me well.

Immediately after graduation I took a position in Japan teaching English. The communication skills learned through studying History are rightfully considered an important asset for English teachers. Consequently historians are commonly targeted by overseas language educational institutions. The history degree unquestionably helped me to get the position in Japan.

Upon returning to Canada I was able to leverage my history degree into getting accepted into the MBA program at the University of Calgary. The analytical and research skills that I had attained during my undergraduate years served me extremely well during this time. I quickly learned that the business world needs people who can take in large amounts of information, analyze data, and put it into words coherently.

After graduating with my Master’s degree I took a job in the oil and gas industry where I have been working ever since. I started in a management training program with a major oil and gas service company and moved into sales a couple of years later. Again I credit my communication and analytical skills with much of the success I enjoyed during that stage of my career. More than anything else the marketing business requires an ability to put forward ideas in a logical and coherent manner so that clients can easily grasp the potential of what you are offering in a complex and rapidly changing and technical business.

Today I live in Brisbane, Australia, where I own an international sales and marketing firm which helps oil and gas service companies break into the Australian market. Every day I am able to use the analytical and communication abilities that I cultivated while studying history at the University of Calgary. I now hire marketing people for my own company and I have found that applicants who have done history at the university level often compete well in the business world. They tend to be among the more thoughtful and creative when it comes to "thinking on their feet."

I would recommend that anyone who has an interest in history consider majoring in that discipline for their undergraduate level studies. The skills developed will always be considered a valuable asset.

November 2015

David Finch, MA, History (1985), Public Historian, Calgary

“While completing my MA in Post-Confederation History at the University of Calgary, I began writing the first of more than 20 books about the history of the Canadian West.

An expert in petroleum and technological history, I also write biographies, articles and columns and as well as for museums and the movies. I consult to government organizations, professional associations, corporations and the public and have appeared as an independent expert witness in the areas of coal, petroleum and electricity.

On occasion I have conducted seminars for the History Department at the University of Calgary to encourage students of history to leave the ivory tower and become public historians and to shun the siren call of law school—a trap into which far too many history students fall!”

http://davidfinchhistorian.weebly.com

December 2015

Bernard Graham, BA Hons, Canadian Studies (1992), Executive Producer, Radio Current Affairs, CBC Calgary

My path towards a degree at the University of Calgary is – admittedly – a bit unorthodox.

When I enrolled at the U of C, I already possessed a broadcasting diploma. I had worked at CBC Calgary for several years. In other words, I had career. So why go back to school?

My career goal was to become a senior editorial leader at the CBC. To achieve it, I knew that a degree would be required to prove my skills in the areas of information gathering, analysis, and critical thinking. 

I graduated from the U of C with an honours degree in Canadian Studies. I chose Canadian Studies because of its rich mixture of courses that focus on history, political science and media studies. In fact, with my honours thesis, I was able to research and critique a CRTC application for a proposed TV station in Alberta.

After graduating, I was able to resume my career and apply my degree - eventually reaching my leadership goals. I have been involved in many stories and projects that have won accolades (RTDNA, AMPIA, CAJ). I have also been able to work as a journalist abroad – in the U.S. and in China. Finally, I have had the opportunity to teach broadcasting at the post-secondary level.

In my personal life, I am the Vice-Chair of the Calgary Bridge Foundation for Youth, an organization that helps immigrant youth and their families settle and succeed. I have volunteered with the Calgary Women’s Emergency Shelter. I coached community soccer and I am an accredited swim official. I am also a lapsed musician.

Perhaps the highlight of my association with the U of C came in June of 2013. I was invited to attend the convocation ceremony for the Faculty of Arts as the Distinguished Graduate. I had the honour of leading students through the graduate pledge. It was a very, very special moment for me. 

February 2016

David Gray, BA, History (1998), Journalism, Calgary

I read on a coffee cup the other day that knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit, wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad. That pretty much captures the relationship between journalism and history.

So many graduates of the social sciences struggle to answer the cocktail party question, "Have you ever really used your degree?" That's an easy one for me--I'm still living it. Journalism is history on the run; imperfect, striving, and often objectionable. It is also, I would argue, the natural outcome of an undergraduate history degree, at least for those unseduced by the inflated hourly wage of law or the tedium of academics. Journalism is the raucous, raw part of what we book nerds and know-it-alls are attracted to--at its best primary sourced, riddled with inconsistencies, and full of surprises. The offer is straight forward. You don't get rich, but you won't get bored. I was sold at an early age.

Over the last quarter century as a journalist I've been lucky to cover stories around the world, from New York to Cairo, Beirut to London, Managua to Jerusalem. I've had a front row seat at innumerable historic events, and know the voyeuristic thrill of seeing something unfold in real time that moments before you would not have believed possible. Along the way I met with Yassar Arafat at his beach house in Gaza, embarrassed myself with the Queen over tea, interviewed 8 active and retired Prime Ministers, 3 Presidents, more Premiers and Mayors than I care to remember, and dozens of mostly forgettable celebrities. I've wandered through a diamond mine north of the arctic circle, run away from gunfire in the Beqaa Valley, smoked a cigar with a captain of industry atop a New York skyscraper, and was bucked of a horse in an African desert.

And for this I've received awards, threats, occasional adulation and frequent condemnation--sometimes for the same story.

I've had a good run.

And it all started with a History degree at U of C.

October 2015

Michael J. Neufeld, BA Hons, History (1974), Senior Curator, Space History Department, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

My B.A. (Honors) from the History Department has been the foundation for my later career. It provided a very good training that allowed me to go on and get an M.A. from UBC and an M.A. and Ph.D. from the Johns Hopkins University. What subsequently transpired is testimony to the fact that being a history professor is not the only option for a PhD. The job market in academia for humanities scholars has been difficult for a long time, but while teaching several years on adjunct, yearly basis, I decided to change my focus from social and economic history of Germany and Europe to the history of technology, specifically rocketry and spaceflight. That led to a couple of fellowships at the National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution and then to a job as a curator. (The Smithsonian has a non-profit as well as government side, which allows non-citizens with permanent residency to be hired.) I've published three books of my own, and edited five others, and am now a Senior Curator in the Space History Department. I am currently involved in many projects, including leading a major exhibition on the exploration of the Moon, which is to open around 2020. Without intending to, I have become a public historian. It's been a very interesting career built on the foundation of my education at the University of Calgary.

October 2015

Roda Siad, BA, History and English (2009), Documentary Filmmaker and Researcher

I chose to major in History during my undergraduate studies not because I had a specific career path in mind, but simply because I loved History. I also have a strong interest in the arts and specifically documentary films, which is why I pursued filmmaking after completing my BA in History and English Literature. The theoretical knowledge that I gained from my undergraduate courses supplemented the practical media training that I received in Ryerson University’s Media Production program. On a foundational level, my education in history provided me with the critical reasoning and analytical skills needed to conduct background research for my documentary films.

Sometimes, we are exposed to a single historical narrative, from one perspective. As a filmmaker who specializes in using multimedia platforms to tell underrepresented, community-based stories, I believe that multiple narratives are essential in order to document the human experience. I am particularly interested in the voices (both past and present) we do not regularly hear from and this has heavily informed the documentary work that I do today. Some of my most memorable history courses covered personal narratives including oral histories, memoirs and autobiographies.

My most recent award-winning project, Living at the Border provides insight into the lives of people on the move. The multi-media project follows the stories of several migrants and refugees as they make the perilous journey to Europe in search for a better life. In 2014, the project received an Amnesty International Canada Media Award. Many comparisons can be made about the current migration crisis in Europe and how Europe has historically dealt with refugees. Having this historical context in mind helped me understand the project and the issues at hand. I am currently working on a documentary for the National Film Board of Canada that examines refugee resettlement in Canada.

December 2015

Jennifer (Muza) Stone, BA, History and International Relations (2003), Business Strategist, Municipal Government

Jennifer Stone (née Muza) is a Business Strategist with Law, Corporate Security, at the City of Calgary. She was born into the hospitality industry in Waterton Park, Alberta where she helped her family operate their two inns before completing her BAs in History and International Relations at the University of Calgary in 2003. She subsequently completed an M.Litt with first class honours in the History of Art and Connoisseurship from the University of Glasgow. While living in the UK with her husband, Jennifer became a bank manager at National Westminster Bank in Oxford and gained significant anti-fraud, international banking and human resource management experience. She  later joined Christie’s Auction House, London, as the Anti-Money Laundering New Client Registration Coordinator for the UK and Europe where she successfully designed and implemented the anti-money laundering program and procedures throughout Christie’s global and, from the UK, led the successful roll-out of the program to Christie’s salerooms in the US, France and Dubai. This role depended upon her ability to formulate and execute large-scale strategies and procedures which demanded consistent consideration of the international art market, and the prevention of the use of art in criminal or fraudulent activity. 

“My career thus far has been exciting and diverse with many opportunities to meet interesting people and work internationally. I was naturally drawn to history from a very young age and knew early on that I would focus my education on the study of European history. Not only did the University of Calgary History Department foster and progress my knowledge of the field, it also instilled in me a desire for life-long learning and continuous development. It was during my time as an undergraduate that I developed critical reasoning and analytical skills as well as the capacity for solving problems and thinking creatively. My history degree also challenged me to advance my interpersonal communication skills and foster an appreciation of the different factors that influence our society.

Much of a career in the private and public sectors requires formulating a strategy and securing the support of various teams who may not see company priorities as their priorities. My undergraduate degree in history has prepared me for these types of challenges. I am able to recognize the need to build a case for change or adaptation on a firm footing of available evidence; to articulate the value of corporate change based on that evidence; and to be ready to discuss and defend a position on why an activity should be undertaken and how it could be best implemented. A key attribute is also maintaining intellectual flexibility to consider new ideas as they arise. These are some of the primary skills a history undergraduate is required to establish and they are what I took from my undergraduate history degree with the University of Calgary.

My history undergrad also inspired me to become part of a bigger story; to serve the public and contribute to the success of a great Western Canadian city at the City of Calgary. The development of public institutions and metropolitan centers, and those who committed themselves to building and advancing them fascinated me as a history undergrad and that interest has become a driving force in my career ever since.”

November 2015

Greg Stone, BA Hons, History (2003), Government Relations, Oil and Gas Sector

Greg graduated from the BA Honours program in 2003 with a focus on military and social history in early modern Europe. While he continued to study history at McMaster and Oxford thereafter, his undergraduate experience at the University of Calgary was fundamental to his career development upon leaving the professional academic world for the private sector. He began his career with a strategy consulting firm as an Associate in Calgary, consulting for natural resource sector clients on government, regulatory and stakeholder affairs before joining a $19 billion Canadian oil sands company as a member of the Government Affairs team. He has since become head of government relations for a conventional Canadian oil and gas company operating in BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, leading the development and implementation of engagement strategies to provide industry expertise and perspective to policy makers at the federal, provincial, and municipal level. Greg is a strong supporter of Canada’s armed forces and sits on the Board of Directors for Valour Canada (http://www.valourcanada.ca/) and the Board of Directors of the Calgary Highlanders Regimental Association. He has also served as a coach with the Calgary Youth Justice Society’s “In the Lead” program.

My career and community involvement initially appear to be a dramatic shift from my undergraduate beginnings, but in fact they are its direct beneficiaries. In part, this is because of the huge tracts of complex, conflicting and incomplete historical data a history undergraduate learns to navigate. Analytical and organizational skills, along with critical thought are required to synthesize and distill a coherent and accurate perspective of the past. What is more, a history undergraduate must also be able to communicate his or her findings skillfully – in such a way that others are able to learn from and use knowledge of the past. Our history has force. It is capable of moving people, of building civilizations better and smarter than the last, but only when communicated effectively and founded on comprehensive research and analysis.

The most difficult paper I wrote during my undergraduate years was 200 words (shorter than this article) on the impact of the Italian Renaissance on western civilization. After three senior level courses on the subject, this was a daunting task and it nearly took longer to write than my Honours thesis of 25,000 words would the year after. I was frustrated by it. I could not see the value of explaining so grand and complicated a story in so small a space. But I did not know then that this exercise would be the root of my value and success upon graduation. To be sure, the texts, scholarly articles, and disintegrating shreds of parchment and manuscripts have been replaced by regulations, budgets, policy and think tank papers, platforms and elections results, production numbers and annual reports, but the central skills that Renaissance history paper and my broader history undergraduate experience demanded – research, organize, analyze, strategize and communicate – were the very same as those required for the development and execution of corporate strategy in the ever-shifting global energy market. Making sense of the world, choosing a path to proceed upon based on the data available, and communicating this so as to move others to follow that path successfully is the foundation of business. It is also the business of life.

In addition to these skills, however, I also found a community of diverse students studying a range of historical periods, subjects and geographies. The broad spectrum of our interests pivoted from the shared belief that the potential for the future is myriad and our choices should be informed. What this translated to on the ground was a strong demonstration of active and engaged citizenship. The undergraduates I studied with were consistently inspired to deliberately forge their present and future through community involvement, volunteering, and entrepreneurial spirit. The University of Calgary undergraduate history program attracted individuals of this sort and it encouraged and developed them before sending them into the world to be excellent and to do excellent things in every theatre. Experiencing the value of that level of humanism has shaped my own drive to serve and excel, both in my career and my community, ever since.”

November 2015

Andrew Varsanyi, BA History and Political Science (2007); MA, History (2014), Director, Business Development 

As a History graduate, my career story has taken some turns over the last several years. Upon graduating in 2007 with a double degree in History and Political Science, I went into teaching and enrolled in the Education Program at the University of Calgary.

My timing couldn’t have been worse. Upon graduating from that program, I realized that the hiring freeze in Calgary following the financial crisis made getting a job as a teacher very difficult. Not only that, I soon realized that teaching wasn’t for me. Though it was fun and rewarding, I found it a little suffocating. So I went back to school, this time for my Master's in History.

I also went in search of something new job-wise and accepted a job in program management at Mount Royal University where I could both manage educational programs to put my love of education to use, but also fell in love with business – management in particular. And I quickly learned that my history degree was of great help to me. I was able to research and interpret the past successes and failures of my predecessors and use them as guideposts for my own actions. And it was a great way to employ education-type skills while learning about business and teaching and training my staff.

While at Mount Royal, I was lucky enough to have been given the opportunity to take on greater responsibilities in managing the business of my programs. Budgets, schedules and the hiring staff all eventually fell under me and I was given the privilege of managing a wonderful team of almost ninety people.

In 2012, after completing my Master's courses and while still working on my thesis, I accepted a position at Critical Control Energy Services in a junior management position in the Oil and Gas Measurement Operations department.

That was where the skills and habits I formed as a history student really paid off. In having to learn a whole new type of business – the massively complicated oil and gas industry – my research background helped a great deal. Although, I still feel that I know perhaps 5% of the world I now work in, I have the tools to learn more about it, and put them to use every day.

After more than three years at Critical Control, I am now the Director of Business Development for North America and manage the sales, marketing, and business development strategies for our companies in both Canada and the United States. I would never have been able to get to this place without my social sciences background. In many cases, late into the night, I would sit up and research and build an argument to attack a given business problem. I firmly believe that it was in the social sciences that I acquired these skills.

I’m very grateful for my History education; it continues to help me on a daily basis.

October 2015

Joe Brindle, BA History (1992), BSc Chemical Engineering

Graduating from high school, I had two main passions: science and history.  I had the good fortune to end up pursuing history before I found myself too entrenched in my other passion, but eventually I ended up pursuing and completing a second undergraduate degree in Chemical Engineering.  At the time I was doing my history degree, I remember being asked over and over by friends and family: “What will you do with a history degree?” as if somehow the ‘wrong’ degree would be something that put limits on a person, but I always saw the study of the arts and humanities as a way of expanding opportunities not narrowing them.

Through all the phases of my careers (plural!) and adventures in life, my understanding of the places I go and the things I do and the people I meet is informed by my study of and love for history.  In addition to providing a broad context for my work, I find that the methods of epistemology, critical thinking, researching, and problem solving that I learned in my study of history are broadly applicable in the field of real world plant engineering. 

October 2016

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