Valparaiso University will be welcoming a new professor of history next fall. Camille Suarez, who is currently finishing her Ph.D. in history at the University of Pennsylvania, will be teaching a freshman writing seminar and American Experience in the Modern World.
Suarez went on the job market last fall and applied to Valpo while going through that process. Having studied as an undergraduate at the University of Notre Dame, she said that she was somewhat familiar with Valpo and where it is in Indiana. On learning more about Valpo and meeting faculty and students, she became more interested in the university as an institution.
“The more I got to learn about Valparaiso, so going on the website, and then eventually meeting faculty members and students, I just really felt like Valparaiso was an amazing institution,” Suarez said, “and an institution that I wanted to be a part of in terms of a faculty member and engaging with students who I think are really awesome.”
Suarez’s current studies and interests revolve around the American West. Having grown up in California, Suarez became interested in the West because she’s from California and it allows her to understand the historical context of her home state.
“I also think studying the American West you get to kind of begin to kind of understand how the United States was constructed in terms of expansion. There's like a diversity of people that you get to study. And I think, if you can understand the American West, you can understand the U.S.,” she said.
For Suarez, beginning to teach at Valpo will be an adjustment from writing papers to teaching and writing lectures. Suarez said that while it may be stressful at times, she is looking forward to teaching, writing and getting to know colleagues.
“I have my first semester. I think it's just going to be getting used to writing lectures and grading and making sure that my syllabi makes sense, and that, you know, the readings make sense,” Suarez said. “But I really do want to kind of create courses that are focused on making some historical aspect of Indiana. And I think there are many things that you can do, or even Chicago, because it's so close by.”
Suarez explained, for example, a class could take a hands-on approach to looking at how housing markets work with a historical perspective. A final project then could include linking up with an organization or looking at archives and going beyond “just reading books.”
Suarez aspires to teach courses that make history fun. More specifically, she hopes to eventually create classes such as the history of baseball and the history of fiction and how those tie into historical themes such as segregation, international politics, immigration and slavery.
“...Even though it would be maybe something focused on the 19th century, we could find ways to get involved in communities around Valparaiso or even in the larger area that will use what we learned in class to better impact the community,” Suarez said.