Historian in the Making: A Success Story

Posted: April 24, 2017 10:00:00 AM CDT

Laura EnomotoLaura Enomoto knows a life-changing graduate program when she sees one. It brings more than just a degree; it shapes who you are and how high you can reach.

From her hometown in Southern California, Enomoto dreamed of teaching at the college level. After an undergraduate degree in liberal studies with a concentration in music, she shifted her focus to graduate work in history. One conversation with the history department at the University of Nebraska at Kearney (UNK) was all she needed: the online Master of Arts in History was the pathway to her dream.

“When I had that personal contact with one of the professors, I thought if this is what the initial contact is like, it’s going to be good,” Enomoto said. “I had a really good feeling from the start. That definitely made my decision, and I didn’t look anywhere else.”

That professor was Dr. Mark Ellis, now department chair, with a team of faculty and online program coordinators who continue the personal connections that make a difference for students. For Enomoto, the support and interaction during the program shaped how she teaches her own history students at a local community college in California—a job she began soon after her graduation in 2014.

“I just had the most incredible experience being mentored and guided. But as much guidance as our professors would give us, they weren’t going to spoon feed us. We really had to do the work,” she said. “I teach online too, so I tell my students the same thing. You have to be thinking and doing your own learning and research.”

Professionally, Enomoto has joined the ranks of her former professors—now as colleagues—giving presentations about her work at history conferences and conducting research for publication. Her degree specialized in Native American, nineteenth-century U.S., and British history, preparing her for a career and also nurturing her research interests to become an independent historian. UNK history professors continue to influence her scholarly success, and vice versa.

“I go to history conferences and try to always go to the one in Nebraska. The [faculty] welcome us to go and present papers. That makes us better historians,” she said. “They sent me to the right sources [for my thesis], and if I had an idea, they really worked with me so I knew where my research was going to go.”

And even though she enjoys the historian she’s become, Enomoto misses her days in the online master’s program. Challenging as it was to balance work, family, and a rigorous graduate degree, she knows the experience changed her in a way that only the best education can.

“I also know that I’m a better teacher,” she said. “It really changed my life. It made me who I am. I’m able to [do] what I’ve always wanted.”

Explore the online Master of Arts in History program or other online programs at UNK to start down a similar path. 

By: Rosanna Vail

Category: General, eCampus

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