Noël Sucese attended Ball State University, where she pursued a degree in History. Post-graduation, Noël worked in various high school-level teaching positions. Noël is now a Ph.D. student at Loyola University of Chicago, where she also teaches Western Civilization discussion sections. 

What does a typical/week/month look like for you?

A typical week for me here at Loyola includes attending night seminar for my Ph.D. classes, teaching two Western Civilization discussion sections every week, lesson planning for those discussion sections, holding office hours, doing tons of reading, writing historiographies for my reading seminars, and when I can—squeezing in research to help prepare for my dissertation. Typically, I try to go home twice a month to see my husband and my pups who live 4 1/2 hours away from me back in Anderson, IN.  

What are the most valuable skills you learned as a History major? How have they helped you post-graduation?

The most valuable skills I learned as a history major include: reading like a historian, the ability to teach others how to “do history” or think historically, data mining, and developing a clear, cohesive written argument. My history (and content methods) professors at BSU taught me to interrogate documents and pushed me to not only do history but to understand how it’s done. By consistently treating me like a professional historian and holding me to the standards of one, the history department allowed me to develop the skills I needed to grow as a researcher. Ultimately, the skills I gained as a history major helped me secure various teaching positions at the high school level upon graduation, and eventually assisted in my ability to secure a fully funded position as a Ph.D. student at Loyola University of Chicago. 

Is there a particular class or professional opportunity that you remember having a big impact on you?

Oh my goodness, here I’d just like to say ALL of them (especially my grad-level classes at BSU). But if I had to pick just one undergraduate history class that still sticks with me…Both Modern British & European Women’s History with Dr. Carolyn Malone. Her integration of primary source texts and images both in class discussion and during formal assessment not only challenged me as a history student, it also served as a model for how I should demystify the process of historical thinking for my students. 

What advice do you have for History majors?

My advice for history majors… hmm…Here’s what I’ve learned over the years from my undergrad experience at BSU: history is for everyone. Women, LGBTQA+, racial minorities… you name it… It’s a discipline that allows us to recognize the agency of marginalized peoples in the past—don’t lose sight of that, or just stay in a narrow-minded box that only wants to explore ONE thing. Take topics you normally wouldn’t take or ones that make you nervous. You’re bound to discover a new passion or unlock a new historical thinking tool your brain has never been previously exposed to. Also, you’re not half as good of a writer as you think you are. That’s not an insult, that’s a critique… and critiques are a great place to start engaging in personal growth—recognize that there is ALWAYS room for improvement and seek the opportunity to do so. When your professor offers guidance or support through office hours or written feedback on an essay? Take that guidance and run with it. BSU’s history department is a treasure trove of brilliant, caring, and supportive professors who are passionate about their profession and students—build relationships with them!

Find more Stars to Steer by here and here!