History students at UMKC come together from all over the country. Get to know our students and you’ll know what the College is all about.
Niki Joshi, class of 2023, is a UMKC student double majoring in History and English and minoring in Film Studies. Niki is a Trustees’ Scholar and a member of the Honors College.
Tell us about you!
My interests are scattered, so my experiences and involvement are diverse. On campus, I’m a writer for Her Campus at UMKC and the Video & Production Coordinator for TEDxRockhill. I’ve also worked on political campaigns for local and federal elections and as a production assistant on a documentary produced by and featuring Reese Witherspoon. Most recently, I spent the spring semester as an intern for the Public Programs Department at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.
I’m really passionate about advocacy and social justice, so the volunteer work I’ve done has often been centered around that. I’ve done outreach for Al Gore’s nonprofit, Climate Reality, been a coordinator and organizer for March For Our Lives, and helped coordinate a couple of fundraising projects for UNICEF.
Why did you choose to become a history major at UMKC?
I think your teachers will either make or break your learning experience, so my impressions of the professors I met on campus visits weighed heavily in my decision. When I visited UMKC during my senior year of high school, I had the opportunity to meet a couple of professors in the department. They were really warm and inviting, and it didn’t take long to recognize the genuine passion and enthusiasm they have for teaching and supporting their students.
Every time I take a history class, I continue to find that to be true. All of my professors have been successful in creating a welcoming and open classroom environment where people feel comfortable asking questions and participating in discussions. They’re all incredibly approachable and uplifting, which has made it easy for me to build relationships with them.
I especially adore my advisor, Mr. Chainy Folsom, whose expertise, goodwill, and impeccable sense of humor have encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone and make every possible stride towards maximizing and enriching my time as an undergraduate.
What words do you live by?
“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
What is the best piece of advice you have been given by a history professor?
During one of my history classes, my professor said, “It’s the arts and humanities that breathe meaning into life.” I thought it was a really beautiful and profound statement, and it’s given me a sense of reassurance and purpose. It makes me feel like what I’m doing is valuable and important.
What advice would you give to someone considering a history major?
I think people are wary of studying history because they think it revolves around the ability to memorize dates, names, and events. But in reality, history is less about knowing and more about understanding. It’s about being able to take information and look for patterns, develop arguments, and draw comparisons and conclusions. The skills you learn as a student of history are applicable to almost anything you can imagine.
What have you learned about yourself while earning your degree?
It’s sort of cliché, but I’ve found that when you choose to learn about the things that interest you, the work that’s required of you doesn’t actually feel like work.
What do you hope to do after you graduate?
I’m still trying to figure that out, but I anticipate going to graduate school. I’m interested in public policy and international relations and find those avenues to be the most practical, but I’m also exploring possibilities related to creative writing and filmmaking.