Claire Repsholdt is an Indiana University-Bloomington junior.
As a teenager in suburban Illinois (Vernon Hills), Claire Repsholdt thought maybe she would like to be a psychologist. Perhaps, a fashion designer? Or could she make it as a cellist? Attracted to Indiana University by the beauty of the Bloomington campus and the strength of the Jacobs School of Music, Claire started her studies as an English major. She delighted and excelled in that work (and blogged about Faulkner), but encouragement from History teachers prompted her to add a History major as well. Professor Ben Eklof remembers a paper she wrote for his course on Anna Karenina and nineteenth-century Russia. "Her paper was so good," he recalls, "I thought she had to be a senior. So I asked her, 'What do you plan to do next year?' I was so shocked," he continues, "when she replied, 'I plan on being a sophomore!'" The same semester, a graduate-student Course Assistant for Michael McGerr's course on "The Sixties" pulled Claire aside and said, "You know, you really ought to be a History major."
After being the digital-media intern in the offices of the Journal of American History, curating the exhibition "The Nature of Work on a Changing Campus," and writing a thirty-page research paper for the History Honors Program seminar, Claire now knows that history is the career for her. She's enthusiastic about the IU Archives, noting that its holdings helped her explain that the university's academic work is built on the just-as-valuable labor of construction workers, office workers, and unpaid student athletes who bring advertising and broadcast contracts to IU. She returned to the Archives to research her award-winning seminar paper, "A Problem in Co-Education: The Question of Women's Higher Education and its Effects on Student Life at Indiana University, 1865-1925" (presented earlier this month at our Honors Symposium).
We suspect Claire willl be back in the Archives this summer, because she was recently appointed as the first intern in the office of the IU Bicentennial. Kelly Kish, Director of the IU Bicentennial Intern Program, explains that its goal is to help "bridge the visibility gap" through collecting information the University needs to recognize "the contributions of women and others who have been overlooked or under-appreciated in our collective past." Claire's "experience with historical research and her interest in women's affairs" made her a great fit for this role. Kish added that it's expected the Internship Program will grow in the next few years and there will be ways for all to contribute through innovative crowdsourcing projects!
Claire's interest in Indiana University's institutional structure and history feeds into (and has been fed by) her work as Manager of Student Assistants in the Office of the Executive Dean of the College of Arts + Sciences, as well. At a time when many public figures are asking hard questions about university education, Claire shows that history can help provide the answers!
As recipient of the Palmer-Brandon Prize, Claire has been recognized as one of the very strongest Humanities students on this big campus. In addition, she has served as President of her sorority (Chi Delta Phi) and of the Multi-Cultural Greek Council. Among her other achievements:
- Multi-Cultural Greek Council Woman of the Year (2015-2016)
- newly selected member of the Board of Aeons (student advisory group reporting to the Office of the President)
- National Merit Scholarship Finalist (2013)
- Girl Scout Gold Award winner (2012), Girl Scouts of the USA
You can read Claire's reflections on fireworks, oranges, and unpacking her grandmother's dishes on her blog. Or have a look at her "Digital Humanities" final project inspired by Sir Philip Sidney's Defense of Poesy (1595).