Alumnae/i Feature

Susann Vaeth '18MA Studies Conflicting Narratives Within History

A former high school teacher, Susann now studies the construction of texts used in schools.

You recently graduated from the MA in history program at Simmons. What's next for you?

I'll be pursuing a Ph.D. at Brandeis University, focusing on a comparative study of history school textbooks published in the postwar period, specifically dealing with WWII events.

Why did you choose to pursue graduate studies in history?

After working as a high school teacher for a year, I knew I wanted to continue my education, and specifically continue studying history. I moved to Massachusetts with my husband in hopes of pursuing higher education, and history was a natural choice to me as it has always been a passion. I love hearing stories and researching!

What drew you to the graduate program at Simmons?

Although I applied to some bigger universities, I knew I would work well in a small classroom setting and enjoy the close cooperation with professors. What really sold me on Simmons was my meeting with Dr. Ortega, who was interested in my research focus and gave me a lot of support and ideas for continued growth.

What was the focus of your graduate thesis?

Conflicting narratives in Norwegian textbooks. I looked at how the Norwegian identity has been developed over decades (from 1946 to 2008), and also how it has presented conflicting ideas over time. I outline the western narrative and also Norway's perceived role in the global world.

Did you have a favorite class at Simmons?

It is a tough choice, but my most memorable class — and what ended up surprising me the most — was the Latin America class with Dr. Sullivan. It was my first class on Latin America and initially, I was hesitant to dive into a topic that was outside of my field and I knew very little about; however, it ended up being an extremely rewarding class and I enjoyed the challenge of thinking outside the box.

How would you describe the community at Simmons?

Being a commuter student I worried that I would not be a part of the community. However, I made a lot of friends from class and made it a mission to reach out to my professors and seek advice when I felt stuck or overwhelmed. As a history graduate student, I became part of a close-knit group comprised of both fellow students and professors.

What advice would you give to students considering the MA in history program at Simmons?

Try classes outside of your field in order to challenge yourself and learn something new! Also, be involved as much as you can because two years will feel like nothing!

What's your Simmons moment?

I can't pick one Simmons moment; it's been a lightning-fast process! From feeling nervous about coursework and classes, to finding friends and exciting research topics. The best part has been the support from the people in my program and going through this time with them.

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From top left: Catherine Cox '23, Brianna Desharnais '22, Julia Hart '21, Lauren Howard '22, Evangeline Kennedy '21, Irmana Monem '21, and Graciella Rios Ortega '21

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