Alumni Profiles

Westmont graduation

 

What are our alumni/alumnae doing? Westmont history graduates go on to pursue a wide range of different careers. Here is a sampling of what some of our recent graduates are doing.

Thea BrentlingerThea Brentlinger ’16 I currently reside in Challis, Idaho and serve as manager for The Watermark Inn, as well as guide for Horse Creek Outfitters. My responsibilities range from domestic tasks to business transactions to guest relations, all of which require organizational and communication skills that can be attributed to my history degree. Whether it is via email or in person, with my bosses or guests, I know that I am able to receive, interpret, and transmit information and ideas effectively.

Corinna OttCorinna Ott ’15 After finishing Westmont in December 2014, I joined Youth With A Mission, a worldwide, non-profit Christian missions organization in Newcastle, Australia. My time there included travel to various countries in Asia and work with university students, slum schools and churches, and women rescued from sex trafficking. Upon returning to the U.S., I worked as a substitute teacher for a local school district in the Bay Area in hopes of exploring a teaching career. The Lord has now blessed me with an incredible job as a 5th grade teacher at one of the lowest-income elementary schools in the area. I am now applying to grad school to obtain my teaching credential and Masters degree. My dream is to someday teach high school history, inspired by my love of history that was initially sparked during my time at Westmont.

Corey CollinsCorey Collins ’14 After graduating from Westmont, I continued my studies at UCLA School of Law, where I am currently in my third year. The writing, researching, and analytical thinking skills I gained while studying at Westmont have prepared me for many rewarding experiences in law school-whether working for a federal judge, leading student organizations, or serving as an editor of an academic journal. After graduation, I will be joining the litigation department of a large law firm in Orange County. I cannot stress enough how my experiences at Westmont-and especially those in my history classes-provided a firm foundation for my further education.

Jason HuffnagleJason Huffnagle ’09 I currently work for the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. Studying history at Westmont has equipped me with the tools necessary to engage on policy matters of national import. This includes, but is not limited to, writing analysis, researching policies, or studying the legislative history of a particular issue. These skills inform my work daily, and allow me to distill information to better inform policy makers.

 

Danielle Willard-KyleDanielle Willard-Kyle '11 After graduating from Westmont, I obtained my M.A. in History in collaboration with Jewish Studies at the University of Toronto and my M.St. in Jewish Studies at the University of Oxford. I am currently a Ph.D. student in the History Department at Rutgers University, New Jersey, where my research focuses on post-Holocaust refugees, migration, and families in Western Europe and North Africa. Alongside my academic endeavors, I volunteer at a local (and newly federally approved) refugee resettlement organization, Interfaith-RISE (Refugee and Immigrant Services and Empowerment), where I am able to bring together many of the skills I've learned as a historian: organization, analysis, writing, and, perhaps most importantly, compassion.

Michael RatsamyMichael Ratsamy ’09 After graduating from Westmont with a degree in history I worked various jobs and did some career soul searching. I ended up going back to school and achieved a master’s degree in computer science from California State University, Fullerton. I now work as a Software Engineer at Landmark Global, a division of Bpost. My training as a history major gave me the ability to think critically, research, analyze and contextualize complex ideas. This has helped me in my current job to navigate the complexities of global commerce and automating this process. As a history major, we’re taught unabashedly to ask why something works the way it does. This has saved me countless hours of unnecessary work and helped to write more robust software that handles the current needs and is able to better handle future needs.

Chloe Balma

Chloe Balma '12 While at Westmont I received a B.A. in Social Sciences with an emphasis in History. In the years after Westmont my experiences and interests led me to work in health care with a focus in access/delivery of care for underserved populations. I am currectly finishing a master's program at UC Berkeley for Public Health in Health Policy and Management. The Social Science major at Westmont allows students to blend interests in political science, history, business, and sociology, a combination that has proved very relevant to the work I am doing today.

 

Emily WhitmanEmily Whitman ’14 Upon graduating in 2014, Emilie spent four months in Jordan volunteering at a children's trauma center for displaced Syrians as well as on multiple medical and humanitarian missions throughout the refugee camps of Jordan with nonprofit Salaam Cultural Museum (SCM). After a stint working as a copyeditor for the Los Angeles Review of Books, Emilie felt called to return to humanitarian work on the Greek island of Lesvos, where she assisted in SCM's efforts to provide humanitarian aid to refugees and migrants fleeing to Europe by boat. This year, she married Westmont alumnus Samuel Martin, contributed to the Middle East Journal as a Publications intern for the Middle East Institute, and now works as the Institute's program assistant and graphic designer for a new initiative that will bring Saudi entrepreneurs to the U.S. for a yearlong series of TED Talk–style lectures.

Rachel Hatcher

Rachel Hatcher '14 As the Assistant Archivist at the Provincial Archives of Mission Santa Barbara, I am privileged to work with friars on digitization projects, research requests, and museum exhibits. During my time at Westmont, I practiced the research and communication of a variety of different events in world history. I find that this foundation has been important as I help the friars write and celebrate the history of their order.

Chris Lim

Christopher Lim ‘12 My role as financial associate at Mercer Advisors holds me responsible for the design and implementation of financial game plans for individuals, families, and companies. The work I do requires me to extract data and information from client documents, or primary sources, and build a financial plan, or client's life story, skills which I can undoubtedly trace back to my work in my studies as a history major

 

Emalie Diaz SundaleEmalie Diaz Sundale ‘10 I am currently in my second year of law school at University of California, Hastings College of the Law and will likely be doing transactional tax or corporate law upon graduation. It's no exaggeration to say that I use my history skills every day. Studying the law requires reading vast quantities of complicated and at times contradictory material, digesting it, and communicating it in a cohesive, succinct, and clear manner. My studies in history gave me a four-year head start on this practice and helped me feel confident and prepared when I started my legal education.

 

Holly Robertson Holly Robertson Huffnagle ’09 I currently work for the U.S. State Department as a policy advisor to monitor and combat anti-Semitism in Europe, having previously worked at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum while completing my Masters at Georgetown University in Global, International, and Comparative History. I daily use skills developed as a History major at Westmont--critical thinking, primary source research, analysis, and report writing. During the EuroMaidan protests in Ukraine in December 2013, I was working in the Office of Eastern Europe and was able to utilize my historical knowledge of the region to contextualize the issues with colleagues and policymakers.

Ryan Zoradi

Ryan Zoradi '08 I work for Unitus Impact, a social impact investment firm headquartered in San Francisco. Our mission is to invest in scalable businesses that improve the livelihoods of low-income populations throughout Asia. Studying history at Westmont piqued my curiosity about the world outside of present-day Santa Barbara and through rigorous research assignments, challenged me to quickly get my head around novel subject matter and then construct and defend logical arguments.

Myrna PerezMyrna Perez Sheldon - '06 I earned my Ph.D. from the Department of the History of Science at Harvard University in 2014, during which I also spent time as a research fellow with the Darwin Correspondence Project at Cambridge University, and at the Huntington Library in Pasadena, CA. After being a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Women, Gender and Sexuality at Rice University, I am now an assistant professor at Ohio University teaching courses in religion, gender, and history.

Tara Tran

Tara Tran '10 - Since parting with Westmont and leaving California, I experimented on the east coast, returned to my hometown, went back to Santa Barbara, and then worked in Asia. After pursuing a research project in Cambodia on a Fulbright scholarship, I decided to continue those interests further in graduate school at Johns Hopkins, where I am currently in a doctoral program for history.

 

Jordan CunningsJordan Cunnings '08- After graduating from law school at UCLA, I currently serve as a law clerk for a judge on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.  After my clerkship, I hope to practice immigration law.  I could not have made it through law school without the rigorous academic training and intellectual preparation provided by my Westmont history degree.  The reading, writing, and critical thinking skills I developed have been invaluable.  

 

Garrett FahyGarrett Fahy ’04 While I thoroughly enjoyed my history major at Westmont, the true value of the skills honed in the discipline -- consuming, distilling and analyzing vast amounts of complex information, recognizing subtle distinctions in complex areas, refusing easy explanations for thorny issues -- became evident during an off-campus semester in Washington, D.C., and in my post-Westmont years. I've been blessed to work in the U.S. Senate, attend Pepperdine Law School, work in litigation practice, write a regular political column, host a radio show and work on some interesting political campaigns. With each endeavor, I've been well served by the skills and knowledge gained through my Westmont history degree. Also, the intellectual curiosity and love of reading birthed and nurtured through the study of history are invaluable elements of a meaningful life and vibrant faith.

Rachel BjorkRachel Raven Bjork '01 - I live and work at Jubilee Partners, an intentional Christian community that hosts recently arrived refugees and walks alongside them through friendship, ESOL classes, health and legal coordination. Thirteen years after graduation, there are still times I stop mid-task and recognize that my history studies prepared me for this work by equipping me to understand context—be it cultural, social or institutional—and training me to research, analyze and articulate ideas for very different purposes, whether documenting a legal case, starting a new program or facilitating a difficult conversation.

Mike Willbanks

Mike Willbanks ‘92 For the past 10 years I've been on the pastoral staff at Santa Barbara Community Church and currently oversee worship, men’s, and young adult ministries. Studying history at Westmont helped me to think critically about the world we live in, making connections between events and ideas, and sharpened my ability to communicate clearly.