Links to the Past

Winter 2013

In This Issue:


Graduating History Seniors Intern in Washington, D.C.

Photo of History Alumna, Elise Erb

Elise Erb spent fall quarter as an intern with the Trust for the National Mall. Erb worked in the organization's development department researching fundraising and sponsorship prospects, planning and assisting with events, and completing general office tasks.

Erb also helped design a docent program for the National Mall.

Erb’s internship was administered through the Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars. She received unit credit through the course, POLS 349: Government Internship. Erb learned about the internship opportunity during her freshman year at Cal Poly from a Washington Center posting on the University Honors website. “I think I went to my first information session before I even finished my first quarter,” she says. To apply, Erb submitted a resume and personal statement to the Washington Center, which then coordinated with organizations seeking qualified interns. As a final step, Erb interviewed with prospective employers. 

While on the job, Erb drew upon a broad skill set, including those she learned as a history major. Research and writing skills were critical. “I spent a lot of time researching potential donors and companies that might sponsor a project,” she explains. “I would then write a report for the leadership at the Trust for the National Mall" to help them to make successful requests for resources. Erb also utilized communication and teamwork skills as she worked with staff and fellow interns and as she helped to promote the organization’s mission to prospects and to the public. She cultivated these skills during her time at Cal Poly through academics and numerous extra-curricular achievements. Last year, for example, the history student journal, The Forum, published Erb’s research paper, “Hanging Prosperity on a Wall: Private Art Collecting as Conspicuous Consumption." This year she is president of the College of Liberal Arts (CLA) Ambassadors.

In addition to the valuable career skills gained, Erb’s highlights from her internship included VIP seats at the lighting of the National Christmas Tree, where she was 100 feet away from President Obama and the First Family. Erb also fondly recalls the Trust’s "Historian’s Day" event, during which she attended meetings of the organization’s board of directors and toured the Franklin D. Roosevelt Monument with historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. The day also included a panel discussion by Goodwin and fellow historians Joseph Ellis, Steven Hahn, and Libby O’Connell that was moderated by Bob Schieffer (of CBS’s “Face the Nation”) and attended by many of Washington, D.C.'s leaders and luminaries. 

Erb sees her internship experience in the nation’s capital as a key step in her future career in museum education. To students interested in working in Washington, D.C., or merely living in cities other than San Luis Obispo or their hometowns, Erb says, the rewards and opportunities are many. “Just go and soak it in!" she advises.

Photo of History Alumna, Stephanie HubbertStephanie Hubbert worked during summer 2012 as a communications intern with Healthcare Leadership Council, a healthcare industry lobbying group. Hubbert blogged for the HLC website, attended hearings and briefings on Capitol Hill, researched and wrote informational sheets on candidates and their health care positions, and took part in weekly meetings with congressmen and congresswomen and their staff. 

The internship put Hubbert's history education to the test and showcased her ability to research and analyze information. “My supervisors were consistently impressed with my analytical skills as well as my writing skills, both of which I attribute to my time as a history major at Cal Poly," she says.

Hubbert has been interested in working in politics since high school. After starting at Cal Poly, she began pursuing her goal through summer internships for the California State Governor’s Office in Sacramento and for the Alabama Education Association. Following these experiences, Hubbert felt that Washington, D.C. was logically the next place for her.

Hubbert applied for her Washington, D.C. internship through The Fund for American Studies (TFAS). Through its partnership with Georgetown University, TFAS offers students a comprehensive summer program that includes an internship, residence, courses for college credit, and seminars with experienced lobbyists and congressional aides. TFAS also runs Washington D.C.'s summer programs focused on journalism, business, economics, international studies and philanthropic service. Hubbert's application process included two essays, two letters of recommendation, and a survey of interest, which TFAS used to match her with a host organization. 

Among Hubbert’s fondest memories of her summer in Washington, D.C. are the times she spent with fellow interns and friends. Her favorite memory was the Fourth of July spent with her roommates on the lawn of the Capitol, from which they enjoyed the holiday parade, concerts, and fireworks display above the national monuments. "It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” she says.

After getting a taste for life in the nation’s capital, Hubbert admits she can’t wait to go back. She has remained engaged with federal legislative politics.  During fall 2012, she was part of the fundraising team on the Maldonado for Congress campaign. And Hubbert has already planned to return to Washington, D.C. after she graduates from Cal Poly in June 2013.  She aims to work for a congressional office for several years before returning to school to earn a master’s degree in either public health or public administration.  

In Hubbert’s view, history students with even the slightest interest in government or public affairs should strongly consider an internship in Washington, D.C. for both the expected and unexpected doors the work might open. “Never limit your options,” she says. "D.C. is an amazing opportunity.”

Student Athletes

The History Department would like to recognize its student athletes for the 2012-13 academic year:

Stephan G. Hampton -- Senior -- Wrestling
Nicholas Moyer -- Junior -- Football
Rachel L. Murphy -- Junior -- Women's Track
Connor S. Odisio -- Sophomore -- Football
Alan P. Peterson -- Sophomore -- Men's Swimming
Daryenne Wickliffe -- Junior -- Women's Track

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History M.A. Graduate Jeff Aranguena Runs for San Luis Obispo City Council

Alumni, Jeff Aranguena runs for San Luis Obispo City Council

Aranguena ('11) ran for San Luis Obispo City Council in the fall 2012 elections.

A major part of his campaign was “his commitment to the importance of hard work and quality education.” He cited his work as lead teacher for Project Citizen, a program that promotes accountable participation in local and state public policy. In this program, he was able to provide leadership, research, and knowledge to help establish new technological policy for the San Luis Coastal Unified School District.

He also cited his involvement with at-risk youth. "My work at the local Family Resource Center has helped to ensure that students with specialized needs can continue with and succeed in their education," he says.

The History Department is proud of Aranguena and his high-profile involvement in the educational and political communities of San Luis Obispo. He finish third of five candidates in the race for two open council seats. "We wish Jeff much luck in the future," said Matthew S. Hopper, associate professor and graduate coordinator for the History M.A. program.

Three History Alumni are Among Those Honored in the Tribune’s "20 under 40" for 2013

Erin (Newman) Wighton (’06 and ’11) and Jeff Aranguena (’11) are both graduates of the History Master's Program; Wighton is the chief administrative officer for the History Center of San Luis Obispo County, and Aranguena teaches social science at Pacific Beach High School. 

David Wilson graduated as a History major in 1997. Wilson is a loan officer with the Bank of Commerce Mortgage, San Luis branch. He also serves community non-profits and, in the past, has taught social studies and coached sports at local high schools.

"In its first seven years, the History M.A. Program has graduated more than 48 students. Some of them are teaching in area schools and community colleges, others are doing wonderful work in public history, and still others are pursuing doctorates at top universities. I'm impressed with how much our graduates have accomplished, and I know this is just the beginning. This is a very exciting time for us as a department," said Professor Hopper.

Stay Connected

Alumni, we'd like to hear from you! Forward us information on your career, activities, anything of interest to former classmates, professors, and current History majors. You may just be highlighted in our next department newsletter.
Email and include the following information:

  • Name
  • Year Graduated
  • Email Address
  • Phone Number
  • Summary of what you'd like to share

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Hometown Diplomat Speaks on Work in Afghanistan and Around the World

John Connerley, a longtime resident of Arroyo Grande, and a graduate of Arroyo Grande High School and Cuesta College, spoke at Cal Poly in October 2012 on the topic of “The Role of Public Diplomacy in U.S. Foreign Policy.”

This talk in the University Union was arranged through the U.S. Department of State’s Hometown Diplomat Program, which allows audiences to come into close contact with high-level American diplomats stationed all over the world.

Connerley serves as senior director of the Rule of Law Section in the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan. In this position, he helps coordinate U.S. government rule-of-law and anti-corruption activities in Afghanistan to provide the ambassador and senior leadership in Washington, D.C., with policy recommendations and program assessment designed to strengthen the government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

Connerley described his experiences in a number of different diplomatic positions, and talked about how the State Department works to help Americans abroad, advises the President on foreign policy, monitors foreign media for the benefit of the U.S. government, explains American policy to media abroad, and organizes citizen, leadership, and cultural exchange programs to “reach directly to the people,” a concept that is often new in countries where democracy is still a relatively recent phenomenon.

Connerley supervises a 25-person multi-agency staff of officers and rule-of-law experts from the Department of State, Justice and Homeland Security, United States Agency for International Development, the Judge Advocate General Corps, and the U.S. military, as well as Afghan legal experts and administrative support personnel. He also works closely with Afghan Ministry officials, other State Department offices, the U.S. military, NATO, and the International Security Assistance Force, as well as representatives from the United Nations, various foreign governments, and Afghan civil society. Prior to this present position, Connerley served in diplomatic positions in Venezuela, Russia, Brazil, Belize, Portugal, Spain, and Mexico.

The History Department in conjunction with the Political Science Department and College of Liberal Arts hosted this event.

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Professor George Cotkin in conversation with Catherine Waitinas

George Cotkin Dives Deeper in Library Discussion of Moby -Dick

Cotkin, along with English Professor Catherine Waitinas, was featured in a "Conversations with Cal Poly Authors" event, where he spoke about his new book, Dive Deeper, Journeys with Moby-Dick (Oxford University Press 2012).

Dive Deeper, which Publishers Weekly selected as a “Pick of the Week,” has been described by reviewers as "[an] entertaining companion to Moby-Dick," ...“one grand intellectual adventure," and “a pleasure to read and the truest portrait of Moby-Dick in American life and letters yet produced.”

In this talk, which took place in October 2012 in the Kennedy Library, Cotkin discussed the ways in which he tried to understand better this classic book and how each American generation over the last 160 years has read and been influenced by Moby-Dick in different ways.  Waitinas, also a Melville expert, shared her own experiences with both the original novel and Cotkin’s unique chapter-by-chapter treatment of this great "beast" of American literature.

Listen to this fascinating, inspirational and very funny discussion on the Kennedy Library Out Loud blog or right here.

Professor Bridger Enters Stage Left

History Professor Sarah Bridger performed in the one-act dramatic reading of "Mayhem, America," written by Cal Poly Theater & Dance Professor Al Schnupp. The play, which took place in October and featured Cal Poly faculty and staff among its cast, centers on a meeting at Mayhem’s City Hall during which a motley committee of citizens must select items to place in the town’s time capsule. Bridger played the role of “Soda,” a teenage delinquent and graffiti artist who joins the committee to fulfill her court-ordered community service. The dialogue among Soda and the other characters offered up a range of observations and social commentary on present-day American society. 

Professor Loberg’s Fellowship in GermanyDr. Molly Loberg stands in front of Schloss Bellevue, the official residence of the President of Germany

History Professor Molly Loberg spent spring quarter 2012 in Berlin on an Alexander von Humboldt Foundation German Chancellor Award. The three-month grant enabled Loberg to research in federal, state, and city archives in support of her book project, Berlin Streets: Politics, Commerce, and Crowds.

During her stay in Berlin, Loberg participated with peer scholars in the colloquium on 20th century Europe at Humboldt Universität and in the urban studies colloquium at the Freie Universität. She also completed the revision of her first scholarly article, which is forthcoming in the Journal of Modern History. In June she attended the annual meeting of the Humboldt Foundation, which brought together German Chancellor scholars from across the globe and from diverse fields such as engineering, the sciences, public policy, and the humanities. Loberg says one of the highlights of the meeting was a reception with German President Joachim Gauck, a Lutheran pastor and anti-communist activist in the former East Germany.

Loberg remains fascinated by what she terms "the puzzle of German history” over the past century--the nation’s democratic collapse and descent into fascism, its defeat in two world wars, its experience of economic crisis and totalitarian dictatorship, and more recently, its resurgence as a political and economic power and a scientific and intellectual center. Loberg notes that much of this resilience has come through Germany’s fostering of international cooperation, its investment in cutting-edge industry and technology, and its public support for arts, higher education, and research. This distinct path, in Loberg’s view, makes Germany a place of interest to students of history and of the influence of history on our contemporary world.

Two Faculty Members Awarded Tenure and Promotion

In June 2012, Lewis Call and Matthew Hopper were promoted to associate professor with tenure. These honors are well deserved by Call and Hopper for their excellent records in teaching, publication and university service.

Photo of Dr. Lewis CallCall is author of the books BDSM in American Science Fiction and Fantasy (Palgrave Macmillan, 2013) and Postmodern Anarchism (Lexington Books, 2002).





Dr. Matt HopperHopper is director of the History M.A. Program and is author of the forthcoming Slaves, Dates & Pearls: Globalization and the African Diaspora in Arabia in the Age of Empire (Yale University Press, 2014). 





Faculty Publications

Lewis Call
BDSM in American Science Fiction and Fantasy.  Basingstoke, UK and New York:  Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.

Molly Loberg
“The Streetscape of Economic Crisis: Politics, Commerce, and Urban Space in Interwar Berlin.” The Journal of Modern History 85: 2 (forthcoming June 2013).

Andrew Morris
“Kanō Baseball, Savage Governance and the Colonial Crisis, 1931.”  In Bi-yu Chang and Henning Klöter, eds.  Imaging and Imagining Taiwan: Identity Representation and Cultural Politics, pp. 47-64.  Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2012.

Kate Murphy
“To Make Florida Answer to Its Name: John Ellis, Bernard Romans, and the Atlantic Science of British West Florida,” British Journal for the History of Science, (published online 23 Oct. 2012 at, forthcoming in print).

“Ecosystems Under Sail: French and British Specimen Transport in Eighteenth-Century French and British Atlantics,” with Christopher M. Parson, Early American Studies, Vol. 10, no. 3 (Fall 2012), forthcoming.

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Your Gifts at Work

Our generous donors have made it possible for us to fund:

Student ScholarshipsHilda Iorga receives Hilda Heifetz Family Scholarship 2012

Each year the History Department presents a number of scholarships made possible by grants from donors. Last year, the department presented the following awards/scholarships: the Robert Detweiler Outstanding Senior Award, Dan Krieger Award, Kristin King Morana Scholarship, Thomas Redican Memorial Scholarship, and J. Irving Snetsinger Awards (2). In past years, the History Department has awarded 27 students over $23,000 in academic scholarships supported by donations.

Faculty Professional Development

Donors help to fund the travel expenses of faculty members as they conduct research for curriculum development, books, and professional publications.

Instructional Resources

Past donations have allowed the department to purchase special computer software and teaching resources such as films and maps to enhance the instruction of History at Cal Poly.

Would you consider making a donation to enhance the study and instruction of history at Cal Poly?

Please contact the Department Chair at (805)756-2670 or visit Cal Poly's Advancement website.

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Archived Newsletters

For earlier editions (1985 to 2000) of our newsletter please visit DigitalCommons@Cal Poly.

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