Spotlight on San Luis Valley Winners’ Circle, March 4th, 2019

The San Luis Valley is an underrepresented region of Colorado on CU’s campus and relies on only a few teacher-dependent National History Day programs. In partnership with the Colorado National History Day headquartered at the University of Colorado, Denver, the Outreach Committee resuscitated pre-existing connections with the Valley to bring a mentorship program to regional NHD winners before the state competition. Without the department’s efforts, the “Winners’ Circle” program in the Valley would not have occurred. Four graduate students, one undergraduate student, two faculty, and one postdoc attended the event. The majority of the participants had previous experience with mentoring and judging through the Colorado National History Day (NHD) program and there was a student-led group training on best practices for NHD mentoring before the trip itself. NHD staff organized the location and participants for the program and the department supplied the mentors.

Feedback from CU mentors in a post-event survey was positive overall. The written responses included:

“I actually wish it could have been a larger event, as I only got to meet with four or five students.  It is incredibly fulfilling both professionally and personally to work with younger students who are so excited about their research and eager to share.  I always learn something new from each of them, and it in turn makes me more excited to keep teaching and researching.”

“History should be a tool that we can use to make the world better. It was great to see the department agree with that sentiment and send us down to SLV. Perhaps best of all, it was wonderful to help the high school students we worked with feel like they mattered and that the history work they were doing was worthwhile.”

“This sort of event is an ideal way for the department to engage the local community, and it could help with two kinds of outreach: 1) talking with the public about the importance of history in a non-academic setting/convey importance of humanities; and 2) providing students an opportunity to meet and interact with professors and grad students, as a sort of soft recruitment effort (an especially good way to reach underrepresented students)....”

.”..This kind of interaction with younger students is also good for gaining a sense of how potential future students have learned/engaged history before they enter the college classroom. Knowing students’ prior knowledge is always useful when designing courses and developing lessons at the undergraduate level.”

“It was a great opportunity to see students engaging with history that was meaningful and personal to them. Seeing young students so interested in history and working in creative/thoughtful ways to engage with historical topics was inspiring.”

History Faculty in San Luis Valley