Gina Covert Benavidez

What did you like most about studying history at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay?

The UWGB history department is where I began to explore the world of academia as a career option, and realize my passion for history could go beyond simply reading books and imagining stories in my head. The faculty of the history and humanities department inspired, encouraged, and motivated me to pursue history. I was fascinated with my professors, and their life work that had taken them around the globe. My first history professor at UWGB my first semester was Professor Gregory Aldrete, who told the stories of the ancient Roman Empire with relatable historical figures whom he brought to life with anecdotes, primary sources, and artifacts. The next semester I had Professor Clifton Ganyard, whose passion for the humanities and mankind, even through the sufferings of the 20th century, carried the class to a new level of understanding and thought. There would be many more professors to come who brought the world to the classroom, and by the summer after my freshman year I had decided to drop my Education double major and switch to a second major in Humanities, alongside with history, in order to add to my historical studies. I realized that teaching elementary school, my original intention in order to work overseas, would no longer suffice as a career option for me once I returned to the United States. Instead, I wanted to go to graduate school and pursue a career in history.

Did you have an internship and/or work with a professor on any special project? If so, what project?

While at UWGB, I had the opportunity to work with several professors on research projects, including one that earned me an honors distinction in my major. First, I worked as a volunteer research assistant for Professor Victoria Goff as she researched materials involving Spanish-language journalism in the United States. As a member of the History club, I also participated in part of Professor Aldrete’s research involving his linothorax project.

As an independent study, Professor Aldrete was my instructor and guide as I worked on researching ancient Roman architecture. As I was planning to study abroad in Barcelona that coming summer, he encouraged me to study the development of Roman architecture in Spain. After a semester of research and writing, I was greatly rewarded during my time in Spain when I was able to see the evidence of my research in person.

Last, I was mentored by Professor Ganyard in my final semester at UWGB as I completed a history honors project about the Spanish Civil War. Through extensive research of foreign language primary and English language secondary sources, I researched and wrote about the reactions and journalism publications surrounding the bombing of Guernica in 1937. I also presented this project at the UWGB Academic Student Symposium. In conjunction, I was also taking a course on modern Russian history with Professor Sherman during the same semester, and she allowed me to focus my term paper on Soviet involvement in the Spanish Civil War, which added depth and knowledge to my Honors project research. Both of these projects greatly added to my historical research skills and knowledge, and encouraged me to become more interested in international communism, a facet of which has become my interest for my future pursuit of historical research.

What are you currently doing with your history degree?

At the moment, I am attending graduate school at Armstrong State University in Savannah, Georgia, as I work towards a Masters of Arts in Teaching Secondary History. I plan to teach high school history while working on a second Masters in History in the near future, and finally a doctorate in History in order to teach at the college level.

My history degree has taken me across the world to dozens of countries, as I have lived and worked in South Korea, Russia, Costa Rica, and New York City. Though I was working as an ESL instructor in these places, I was still able to expand upon my historical knowledge of these parts of the world, which encouraged me to learn even more about the countries I visited and stayed in. I have remained in contact with some of my professors, who continue to support and encourage me as I ask for advice or update them on my life. While living in Moscow I was even lucky enough to meet up with Professor Sherman several years after graduation as she traveled to Russia for a research trip.

My experience at UWGB instilled within me the potential to follow my dreams of pursuing a doctoral degree in history. By working with various professors and being allowed the flexibility to research topics I was interested in, I developed historical research and writing skills that have taken me far in life already, though I plan to continue to hone and sharpen them as I continue my studies. Now, as I prepare to teach high school history, I plan to manifest the knowledge, care, and dedication my professors showed towards me to my own students in order to encourage and inspire them to learn about the world they live in.