History GTA Meeting with Dr. John Herron 4

Graduate Student Profiles

Our students do us so proud.

MA and iPhD candidates are already beginning their careers as professional historians by publishing articles, building websites, creating exhibitions, producing documentaries, and even writing books.

Current Students

Kristina Ellis
Kristina Ellis is an Interdisciplinary PhD student who looks at late nineteenth and twentieth century women’s history. She received a bachelor’s degree in History from the University of Utah in 2004 and a master’s degree in History from UMKC in 2008. Her dissertation deals with women’s bodies in popular American magazines, but her interests include gender and print culture in the United States and the United Kingdom. She presented a paper entitled, “Eliza Lynn Linton’s (Anti)Feminism Across Genres,” at the annual Research Society for Victorian Periodicals (RSVP) Conference in Freiburg, Germany, in July 2017 after receiving grants from RSVP, the School of Graduate StudiesUMKC Women’s Council, the Women and Gender Studies Department, the English Department, and the History Department. She is working on an article about Linton and her article “Journalistic Activism: Lucile Bluford’s Fight for Rights in The Kansas City Call” is published on the website “Profiles in Kansas City Activism” in partnership with Shook, Hardy & Bacon.  Kristina is the AHA Career Development Fellow for the 2020-2021 academic year.

Paula Hayward

Paula Hayward is an iPhD student in History and Humanities Consortium. Originally from Kansas City, she received her BA in History with honors from Missouri Western State University in 2018 and her MA in History from UMKC in 2020. Her doctoral research focuses on Medieval English forest law, looking particularly at how forest law affected the culture, legal landscape, and the environment. Her master’s thesis, “From the King’s Will to the Law of the Land: English Forest Litigation in the Curia Regis Rolls, 1199-1243,” focused on litigation in the reigns of King John and King Henry III. She has served as a graduate teaching assistant for both U.S. History survey courses, History 101 and History 102.

Matthew Larson

Matthew Larson is a former graduate instructor and current history PhD candidate at UMKC. In 2011 he earned his BS in Social Science Education from Northwest Missouri State University followed by his MA in History from Missouri State University in 2014. In addition to his former role as a graduate instructor, during which he taught History 101 and History 208, Matthew has spent the last nine years teaching as a full-time educator. He worked for seven years for Liberty Public Schools, first as a fourth grade teacher and then as a tenured high school history teacher. In the latter role he taught both regular and AP history courses while serving in various leadership capacities. The past two years he has taught high school history, both regular and AP, in the state of Utah while finishing his dissertation. Matthew’s doctoral dissertation traces the development of the American press through the Civil War, with a focused examination of how the northern and southern presses reported the Battle of Gettysburg and the broader campaign. In May 2020 he won the Carla Klausner Best Graduate Student Paper Prize for his dissertation chapter titled, “Bread and Newspapers: The Press during the Civil War.”

Emma Priesendorf

Emma Priesendorf is a graduate student pursuing her MA in History. A Kansas City native, she graduated summa cum laude from Rockhurst University with a BA in History in 2015. Her senior capstone project titled “Paracelsianism and the Theoretical Foundation for Chemical Medicine” was one of five papers nationwide chosen for publication in History Matters: An Undergraduate Journal of Historical Research. She continues to study the history of science, more recently presenting her paper “The Outlaw Antiquarian: Richard Verstegan and the Transformation of the English Origin Story” at the Midwest Junto for the History of Science. Her current research focuses on paleontology in nineteenth-century America. She worked at the Museum at Prairiefire and the National WWI Museum and Memorial before coming to graduate school.

Kelsey Runge
Kelsey Runge is a first-year MA student interested in queer history in the twentieth century, particularly activism and politics, as well as intersectionality within the queer movement. Kelsey graduated summa cum laude from Benedictine College in Spring 2020 with a BA in History and Political Science. Kelsey has been a member of Pi Sigma Alpha, the political science honor society, since 2019, was the 2020 recipient of the Benedictine College Discovery Scholar Medal, and has presented two papers at the Kansas Association of Historians Conference: “Hatshepsut: History’s Forgotten King” (2018) and “Religious Upheaval in Egypt: Akhenaten and the Amarna Revolution” (2019).

Mackenzie Schulte

Mackenzie Schulte is a second-year MA student. Originally from Overland Park, Kansas, Mackenzie received her undergraduate degree from the University of Kansas in History and Film and Media Studies in 2015. Mackenzie’s primary research interest is English history during the Early Modern period. Her thesis focuses on coffeehouses in England during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and how coffeehouse culture facilitated commercial networks of trust.

Recent Graduates

Alex Banks

Alex Banks is a 2019 graduate of the Public History master’s program at UMKC. Alex graduated from Truman State University with a BA in History with departmental honors. He is currently interested in European (more specifically German) imperialism in Africa in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. More broadly, however, Alex is interested in modern European diplomatic history, ranging from the second half of the seventeenth century to the first half of the twentieth. 

Kathryn B. Carpenter

Kathryn B. Carpenter graduated with an MA in History in 2019. Her research interests include health and the environment, the American West, public land use, women and gender, and the history of science and technology. She is also interested in digital and public humanities. In 2017, Kathryn worked as a curator on the traveling exhibit Making History: Kansas City and the rise of Gay Rights, and designed and produced an accompanying digital exhibit. Kathryn was born in California and grew up in Spokane, Washington. She received her Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia, and worked as a reporter, copy editor, and freelance designer before returning to school. Twitter: @katebcarp

Seán Thomas Kane

Seán Thomas Kane completed his MA in History in 2019. Mr. Kane was born in Chicago and earned his BA at Rockhurst University in History and Theology in 2015. While at Rockhurst, Mr. Kane was Senior Editor of the 2015 edition of The Rockhurst Review. He earned his first MA in International Relations and Democratic Politics at the University of Westminster in 2016, where he specialized in the politicization of national identity in Ireland, Wales, and Australia and in the issue of democratic legitimacy in the European Parliament. Beyond academia, he is the author of three books – The Adventures of Horatio Woosencraft and Other Stories, Travels in Time Across Europe (both 2017), and Erasmus Plumwood (2018) – and is currently working on a number of other literary projects.

Brooke Leisinger

Brooke Leisinger earned her Master of Arts degree in History with a Public History emphasis in Summer 2020. She graduated with a BA in History and Women & Gender Studies from Columbia College in Columbia, Missouri in 2014. Her research focuses on Midwestern LGBT history. She currently works as a Collection Cataloger for the National Museum of Toys & Miniatures.

Matthew Reeves

Matt Reeves is a doctoral candidate at UMKC and special collections librarian at the Kansas City Public Library. His MA thesis examined how nineteenth-century physicians used newspaper advertising as a space to create contested professional identities, while his current doctoral project explores the early years of osteopathic medicine. In addition to his work on campus as a graduate teaching assistant, Reeves was an inaugural member of the UMKC HistoryMakers project, a public history initiative that places graduate students with public and private cultural institutions throughout the Kansas City metro. Reeves has also worked as a project manager and content developer for Eisterhold Associates, a nationally-known museum design firm, and was a guest curator for a major exhibit at the National Museum of Toys and Miniatures.

Sarah Rucker

Sarah Rucker graduated with her MA in History in 2019. A native of Ohio, she earned her undergraduate degree with honors at Ohio University in 2011. Her research focuses on the Cold War with an emphasis on the impact of international opinion on advancements in Civil Rights in the United States during the Cold War’s infancy, television news media’s influence on public opinion and Washington elites during the Vietnam War, and U.S. involvement in newly developing nations following decolonization after World War II.

Michael Spachek

Michael Spachek is a graduate student seeking a Master of Arts degree in History with an emphasis in Public History. He is from Wichita, Kansas and earned his Bachelor of Science degree in History from Kansas State University. While there, he worked as an intern for the Chapman Center for Rural Studies under the guidance of Dr. M.J. Morgan and Dr. Bonnie Lynn-Sherow, completing three articles and an archival project while also serving as an assistant curator for the “Going Home” exhibit in partnership with the Flint Hills Discovery Center in Manhattan, Kansas. He is an environmental historian whose research interests include riverine ecosystems, land and water use, conservation, and the Missouri River. His career goals include museum curation and educating the public on environmental topics. His articles “Animals for Profit: The Ecological and Economic Causes of the War on Coyotes in Kansas from 1890 to 1899”, “The People’s Blacksmith John Crisp and the Rural Farmers of Rock Creek Township: Chalk Mound, Wabaunsee County, Kansas, 1850 to 1950”, and “Tracking Success of African American Landowners in Wabaunsee County, Kansas, Circa 1900: A Case Study of African American Farmers at the Turn of the Century” are available online through the Chapman Center’s online archive.  

Debra K. Taylor

Debra K. Taylor is an historical sociologist interested in social stratification, most specifically, stratification brought about by the social constructs revolving around “race” and ethnicity.  Her current doctoral research is an examination of modern-day murals and monuments as remembrances of the American Civil War, in which she analyzes which groups are “remembered” and which are “forgotten.” Taylor has taught various courses in the social sciences, including American History 1865 to present. Born and raised locally, Debra completed her BA in Liberal Arts and her MA in Sociology at UMKC.

Elizabeth Young

Elizabeth Young earned her MA in History in 2019. Her interests include Anglo-Norman power dynamics and colonization, the Crusade movement in Anglo-Norman England, and the use of religious propaganda. Ms. Young is a Missouri native. She received her bachelor’s degree in History and French from Missouri Western State University in 2016.