History Graduate Profiles

"What can I do with a major in history?"

That is a question which students often ask, and rightly so. Many believe that a history major only prepares one for teaching. However, as these letters from our past students demonstrate, the skills and broad knowledge gained from the study of history are valued by employers in a wide variety of occupational fields.

Joseph S. Carnazzo, BA '68, MA '70

Thirty years ago, I received a Bachelor's and Master's in History from Creighton. My area of interest was Russian history.

Immediately following my time at Creighton, I entered a Ph.D. program in Russian history at McGill University in Montreal. Two years into the program, I returned to Omaha to teach high school history in order to earn enough money to support my growing family. As it happens, the high school closed, and I was offered a temporary job doing research for a health care organization. I got the job in part because of the research and writing skills I learned at Creighton.

One thing led to another, and this "temporary" job started me on a 30-year career in the health care industry, first in health planning, then in hospital administration and - until recently - in physician practice management.

I never completed my Ph.D., but 15 years ago I did receive an MBA from UNO. While studying for that degree, I observed - again - that the research and writing skills that I learned at Creighton helped me immensely.

I now am turning full circle. In January 1999, I became the Administrator of the Osteoporosis Research Center at Creighton and will begin teaching management and marketing classes to Creighton undergraduates in the Spring of 2000. In both of these endeavors, the skills I learned at Creighton have helped me once again.

John F. Cook, BA '66

After graduating from Creighton with a major in history in 1966, I attended Arizona State University on an assistantship, and received a masters in history in 1967. Thereafter, I went to the University of San Francisco Law School and received a Juris Doctor in 1970. Since that time I have been in the general practice of law in Aurora, Colorado.

I did teach at Arizona State during the time that I was getting my masters. However, I did not think that teaching was best for me, and therefore went on to law school. I still have a love of history and belong to several historical societies.

Joseph S. Daly, BA '67, JD '70

As you can see from the letterhead, I am a practicing attorney here in Omaha. After graduation from Arts College with a degree in history, I entered the Creighton University School of Law and graduated in 1970 with a Juris Doctor. During the summer between my first and second years of law school, I went to work for the Law Offices of Emil F. Sodoro as a law clerk. Upon graduation, I continued to work in that firm and have been there ever since with the firm now being known as Sodoro, Daly & Sodoro.

The emphasis of my law practice is civil litigation and I have been a trial lawyer for almost 30 years. I feel that my liberal arts education with a degree in history ably prepared me for what has become my life's work and knowing what I know now, if I had it to do all over again, I would still pursue the same academic road that I did from 1963 to 1967.

Dennis A. Deeny, BA '67

I was delighted to receive your letter since I truly enjoyed my time in Creighton's History Department. It was there that I first took courses in Russian History which pretty much set the focus for the rest of my life. In one way or another I have been doing something that has to do with Russia ever since. I have never been a teacher but have certainly found my background in history an important asset in my endeavors.

I have had two careers since leaving Creighton. First of all I was an Army Intelligence Officer for 24 years, specializing in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. I had various assignments in Europe and in Washington DC dealing with intelligence collection and analysis and treaty verification. Along the way I received an MA in International Relations from USC. My last assignment in the Army was as an advisor to the newly independent Latvian government helping the Ministry of Defense set up a democratically based Intelligence and security structure.

I retired from the Army six years ago and found a career in International Trade. I have an export company that ships US goods to several European countries. It is a US-Russian joint venture owned by myself, my wife (also a Creighton graduate in Nursing) and a lady in Moscow.

A degree in history fits well with someone who is considering a career in Intelligence, as many of the jobs in that field are area specific and require the type of analytic skills one develops as part of a history program. I think the same can be said for the business world. We truly do live in a global economy and many big and small American companies are striving to market their products abroad. I deal with them every day. They need people with an understanding of foreign countries who possess good analytic skills.

As with anything else the results are generally proportional to the effort made. The student has to do well academically. Also I think that undergraduates in History who wants to do something besides teaching must broaden their skill base. They should take some courses in other disciplines (Business, Languages, Information Technology etc.). They need to present a diversified package of skills to a prospective employer. Then they need to go out and market themselves, their knowledge and their skills. Students have to find the job. It won't find them.

Joanne Deniston Sellner, BA '92

Upon graduating from Creighton I began working for Eli Lilly and Company as a pharmaceutical sales representative in San Diego, CA. I managed a sales territory that generated over one million dollars in sales annually. My daily activities included delivering sales messages to physicians, arranging programs and keeping abreast of the latest medical information pertaining to the diseases that our various medications treat. After three years as a sales representative I was promoted to an Account Manager, Regional Managed Care.

In this role I work with large managed care organizations. My responsibilities include negotiating the availability of our products, implementing educational programs for physicians and patients, understanding pharmacoeconomic data, and developing and delivering customer presentations. I work out of my home office and travel to accounts throughout southern California.

As a student of history I learned how to read information, and communicate my findings via written documents, classroom discussions and presentations. In addition to a History Major I received a Business Certificate at Creighton. These academic skills and a variety of extracurricular activities have prepared me well for my career with Eli Lilly - which I love by the way!

Conal L. Hession, BA '89, JD '92

After graduating, I had a scholarship to the law school. I enrolled the following year and completed my JD in the normal three years. After graduation, I went into private practice with a large firm here in Omaha, specializing in trial work.

Professionally I have tried a dozen or so cases in the state and federal courts here. I have appeared before the Nebraska Supreme Court. I have represented insurance companies, hospitals, physicians, corporations, students, and Indian tribes. After six years in private practice, the firm I worked for began to disintegrate, and I stayed in the law, but switched fields. I no longer try cases, but handle corporate, employment, estate planning and tax matters.

I'd say that my history background was of immeasurable help in studying law, because of the significant historical component to the law, even in the "modern" areas such as commercial transactions.

If the students are paying attention in historiography (of course you can tell them that I wasn't . . . ), they learn how the historian is influenced by the biases, concerns and hot buttons of the historian's own era; how earlier historians' views may have been shaped by such concerns; thus no scholarly text can be complete without a critical examination of one's sources. Such is the case in the law. I frequently observe that I have never tried a case where both parties were not lying. Invariably a witness would claim the facts were contrary to the way they are, in essence that black was white. Without a critical examination, I would have been annihilated in the courtroom.

In addition, the law makes no sense unless as a lawyer I understand what motivated the justices of the Supreme Court when ruling on the Steelworkers trilogy, and why that "law" and "precedent" looks different today on almost identical facts. If I hadn't learned how to look beyond the text, I would have had a much harder time of it.

Heidi Juersivich, BA '98

I'm using my history degree as a reporter for The Roanoke Times, in Roanoke Virginia, a job I was lucky to find before I graduated in December 1998.

I knew from my first day at Creighton that I wanted to be a print journalist, and having that focus was instrumental in helping me to find a job out of college. I was also a journalism major, but I chose to study history too because media employers like to find people with a broad background in research and interpretation. History classes taught me to be highly critical of your sources, ask lots of questions and be constantly wary of how my own opinions are affecting your interpretations of events. Having a knowledge of history can add depth to news coverage and has helped me gain rapport with sources.

Reporters have to be attentive to detail, able to work on deadline and find their own work. The journalism job market is highly competitive. If you want to be a reporter, I recommend working for the school newspaper and doing lots of internships. If you don't have experience, you'll have a hard time finding a job. You should also strive for perfection in the classroom, because once your work is published, that's what readers will expect.

Sarah King, BA '97

Education was not my primary objective upon graduation, but still, I have spent the last two years as a volunteer teacher. My first year out of college was devoted to teaching, at Mount Carmel High School in Benque Viejo, Belize. I taught math, Spanish, and social studies (world history) to freshmen and sophomores, ran the school newspaper and yearbook, and traveled almost every weekend. I also applied to law schools in the spring, spending quite a bit of money on DHL bills in the process.

In this second year out of college, I applied for a deferral from law school and volunteered for the Center of the Working Boy in Quito, Ecuador. I taught a variety of classes and students --sales to junior high, art and English to grade school, and the three R's to adults at night. Now that I am just starting to get the hang of "the teaching thing" I guess it is time to move on to something else at which I have no experience ... this fall I will be starting my first year at Yale law.

Well, I guess it hasn't been an especially unusual path for a history major, and I'm afraid I don't have too much to offer in the way of professional advice. I would, however, highly recommend the working- or volunteering-abroad experience to anyone with nebulous career plans. There are so many advantages. Besides the obvious benefit of being able to help others, there are invaluable personal rewards more directly related to professional success. I got to travel, improve my Spanish, clarify my career goals ... not to mention that time spent abroad looks great on a resume or graduate school application.

Greg Lickteig, BA '88

Studying history in my undergraduate years has provided a sound foundation to build a career in the grain business.

I started Creighton in the business school, as I wanted a career in business. However, I quickly decided I did not want to be an accountant or an insurance guy. I wanted to be the guy in charge, the one who put a business together and managed it. While the study of business is a valuable discipline, I needed more than it offered.

I see my undergraduate years as ones of growth and development, not training. I studied history because the discipline fascinated and interested me. Unlike most history majors, reading and writing were not natural talents. I was a slow reader and my writing skills needed sharpening. In that, I learned valuable and necessary life skills. But the study of history provided much more. It gave me a broad perspective from which to view the world and my life.

I'm glad to have landed in the grain business. My first job was buying grain for a terminal in Council Bluffs, Iowa. I bought grain from farmers and managers of small Iowa elevators. Since 1992, I have been involved in the food soybean and organic market, subsets of the larger grain industry. I have built a business at The Scoular Co. from the ground up. We are now a major supplier of food soybeans and organic corn in the United States and Japan. Currently, we are wrestling with such decisions as how to supply non-genetically modified grains to Japan or will the U.S. consumer demand organic grain, i.e., grain produced without chemicals. Our company's objective is to play a role in the market...and make money at it.

I may go back to business school to earn an M.B.A. If I do, I will go back with personal business experiences to apply to classroom lectures. However, I wouldn't trade my undergraduate years in history for any other discipline.