American Studies

Kitty Dawson giving a presentation
Kitty Dawson giving a presentation

Kitty Dawson

Why American Studies?

I chose American Studies as a major because of the array of classes you are able to take. I began as a History major because knew that I really enjoyed learning about past events, figures and happenings. I also became very interested in other classes like Anthropology and Sociology but I didn’t know how I could fit those into a heavily loaded history coursework schedule. I had a friend a year above me who was an American Studies major and she suggested I look into it. It was perfect. The way the major was set up allowed me to take a majority of history classes that I was very interested in but also let me take a class here and there from other departments that I was interested in. I can say that those classes from departments other than history, like Sociology, Anthropology, MSC and English, actually helped with my history courses. I found myself using information and knowledge I learned in those classes to aid and help supplement what I was learning in my core history classes. It was really exciting to be able to use what I learned from other departments to supplement and enhance the history that I loved.


American Studies with a history concentration


Secondary Social Studies certification


Women’s Lacrosse Team (captain for 2 years), SAAC, Student Senate, Best Buddies, Phi Alpha Theta (treasurer)


The class that I especially enjoyed was my Capstone seminar, Equality in America, with Dr. Onaci. This was such an awesome class because of the books we read, the discussions we had, and the outside research we were able to conduct. Being an active student at Ursinus, I found I loved hearing and learning about the history of the school and the students/professors who have attended and taught before my time here. I was able to take this love for my school and integrate it into my research for class. Being a student athlete, I found I was especially interested in the sports program and the history of the teams. I took this interest and conducted my own research on the women’s teams here on campus, specifically field hockey and lacrosse. I studied the effects their participation had on their lives here on campus as well as the impact their participation made in their futures. 

During my research I was able to work in the archive room located on campus and sift through old pictures, newspaper articles and documents that could aid me in my research. Also, a very special experience  was interviewing female alumni who participated in these sports. I met with the Alumni Office and they were able to connect me with alumni who graduated in the 1960s. I then reached out to these women and asked if they would aid me in my research by answering a few questions in an interview session. Many of them were more than willing to connect with me and share their memories, experiences and opinions about their time at Ursinus College and the sports programs they participated in. This experience of discussing my school with alumni I would have never had contact with otherwise was invaluable. These women had such a love for the school and were so deeply affected by their time here that it really opened my eyes to the experiences and memories I was gathering during my time here. I was able to learn more about the school I attended and the female student body that had come before me. It was such an incomparable experience to anything I had done before. If I had not been an American Studies major I would not have gotten this opportunity to conduct such intensive research on not only the greater Philadelphia area, but the school that I was attending.

Teacher Certification

The American Studies major allowed me to be able to get into my student teaching experience while I was still attending school instead of taking a ninth semester. Many of the classes I had to take to get certified for Secondary Social Studies were also classes that fit into my major requirements. This helped tremendously on keeping me on track to finish school with my class. My student teaching experience has definitely been a great one. It is a whole new experience to be in charge of students and teaching them every day, 5 days a week. The American Studies department worked so well with the Education department and helped me get an awesome placement for my experience.

Life After Ursinus

In the future I hope to be teaching high school students and spreading my love for history. I think that many times students think history is just memorizing facts and dates and my goal is to teach them that it is so much more than that.