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Kalamazoo College

Jessie Hansen

American Studies

West Chicago, IL
Art History
American Studies
Study Abroad:
Aberdeen, Scotland
Favorite Ice Cream Flavor:
Ben and Jerry’s
Best Adjective to Describe You:

In 15 words or less, why should a student want to be involved in this department?
It allows you to gain a deeper appreciation and understanding for the place we currently live.

What initially drew you to this department?  What keeps you coming back?
It was a way for me to look at American history--something I love--but go beyond it and look at everything that makes up the country and the components of culture and society that impact what a nation is and its history. Over the years as I have chosen classes, it just happened that the ones I was interested in the most, fell into American Studies.

What’s your biggest piece of advice to first years and sophomores in this department?
Explore the concentration! Try to take as many different classes as you can so that you can do exactly what a concentration is meant to be—cross disciplinary.

How does your department connect to your other interests and activities?
I came into K with a passion for history, art history, and English but knew that I could not major in all of them. American Studies allows me to study all of them at the same time in a way that better informs my understanding of the country and my American history major.

What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned at K?
Alone time is important. At such a small school, it is easy to do everything with everybody. But school and people can get overwhelming so I’ve learned that at times I need to step back and spend time alone.

What has been your favorite class at K?  Why?
I took Creative Writing my first year fall and it was amazing. I hadn’t taken a class where I got to focus solely on writing of this style before and it was a nice break from writing academic papers my first quarter. It really helped me adjust to my new academic surroundings.

What is your SIP?
I’m doing a history SIP, examining the interactions between Native Americans and the establishment of National Parks, specifically Yellowstone National Park.

What are your career aspirations/next steps after K?
I hope to take a year or two off before heading to graduate school, using the time to figure out what I want to do with my future and to take part in some sort of service opportunity that allows me to give back to the country. I hope to keep history and education as key components of my future.

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