Assistant professor of history Dr. Emily Smith came to Oklahoma Christian University first as a student and now 12 years later as a professor.
Smith took a route many professors at Oklahoma Christian have taken, coming back to the place she once called home only now on the flip side. Smith, a 2008 graduate, did not realize her love for history until coming to Oklahoma Christian, and now she hopes to instill that passion she found as a student into others.
Q. How did you get to Oklahoma Christian?
I came to Oklahoma Christian as a student first. I was a student here from 2004 to 2008, and I graduated with my Bachelor of Arts in history. I knew that I wanted to come back here and work, and when I learned of the job opening, I applied, and here I am.
Q. What got you interested in history?
I’ve really always enjoyed studying history. I loved it in high school and so I picked it as a major when I came to college. I actually wanted to be a librarian, and so I was told that majoring in either history or English would be a good fit, and frankly I don’t care that much about grammar, and so I went with history. I really love stories and to me history is just a big story with a bunch of different pieces, and so that’s the thing that I like about it and that’s the thing that got me interested in it.
Q. When did you realize you
wanted to be a professor of history?
I realized I wanted to be a history professor my freshman or sophomore year at OC. I was taking a U.S. history class from Dr. John Thompson — now I study European history mainly and I prefer European history. However, Dr. Thompson made U.S. history so interesting because he was [so] interested in it that I started liking it. He was also a wonderful mentor inside and outside of the classroom, and so I decided I wanted to be that way.
Q. What has been the coolest experience you have had in your time as a history professor?
The coolest experience I’ve had so far has probably been in my 20th century Europe class that I am teaching this semester. We spent the past week discussing a book that detailed the experiences of French soldiers during World War I, and I really enjoyed getting to share that with my students and seeing how they connected with the material and the impact it made on them. That’s definitely been the coolest thing so far is seeing students engaging with historical narratives and seeing the impact of that on them.
Q. What do you love about teaching history?
This one is hard because I love so many things about teaching history! My favorite though is probably helping students to have an appreciation for the past and have a deeper understanding for why things happened the way that they did and nurturing a sense of connection. [Also] helping students see that the people and things that you study in history class matter and that it’s not just a series of names and dates, but they were real people. So, helping students get a sense of that is the thing that I love most about being a history teacher.