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History Grads Admitted to Premier Ph.D. Programs

 |  Susanna Lee

Many Ph.D. programs are discovering what the NC State History Department already knows: NC State history graduates rank among the best prepared for studies at the doctoral level. Our graduates have continued on to excellent Ph.D. programs across the country, from Stanford to Columbia.

This year, an exceptional group of graduates will further their studies at premier Ph.D. programs. Melanie Burkett (History M.A., 2015) began her Ph.D. studies at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, in early spring. Micah Khater (History B.A., 2015) and CJ Rice (History M.A., 2016) will both enroll in the History Ph.D. program at Yale University in Fall 2016. Taking advantage of the Triangle’s top programs, Kelsey Zavelo (History M.A., 2015) will join Duke University’s doctoral program in History in Fall 2016.

20160411_115504Melanie Burkett is currently working on her Ph.D. under the supervision of Tanya Evans at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia. Her thesis examines the reception of government-assisted immigrants to New South Wales in the 1830s and 1840s and explores what the negative opinions of these labourers’ “quality” reveals about class relations in the young colony. Burkett recently completed her M.A. in History at NC State, earning distinction for her thesis “Australian Legend, Australian Lives: The Interplay Between Representations of Early Nineteenth-Century New South Wales and the Experiences of Free Immigrants,” which focused on the experiences of free immigrants to early nineteenth-century New South Wales. Her scholarship is inspired by her semester abroad in Sydney as an undergraduate as well as her most recent career path. While completing her M.A. degree, Burkett worked within the field of global education at her undergraduate alma mater, Duke University. In that role, she helped undergraduates incorporate global and civic engagement into their four years, thus allowing them to have perspective-altering, cross-cultural experiences much like those of her historical subjects. Burkett completed her undergraduate degree at Duke in 2001 and also has an MBA from Ohio University.

Student-Micah-Khater-2015-e1450119089541.jpgMicah Khater graduated from NC State with a bachelor’s degree in History in May 2015. She served as a Caldwell Fellow, holding the William T. Kretzer Family Scholarship, a merit award within the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, for three years. She also interned with the National Endowment for the Humanities while completing her undergraduate studies. In the fall of 2015, Micah won the Hugh T. Lefler Award from the North Carolina Literary and Historical Association for her senior honors thesis, “There Will Be Political Dirty Work: Gendered Expressions of Black Resistance in United States v. John Cashion (1936).” The Hugh T. Lefler Award honors the best undergraduate research paper in a history course at a North Carolina school. At Yale, Micah plans to study 20th-century African American history with a focus on black Americans in international contexts. She is interested in investigating how black culture and intellectual producers circulated in global spaces and influenced notions of political possibility back home. 

In August 2013, Carl “CJ” Rice graduated from West Virginia University with two bachelor’s degrees: one in Religious Studies and one in History. There, he was named an outstanding senior in the History Department, an Eberly Scholar, and was inducted into Phi Alpha Theta and Phi Beta Kappa. Later that month, CJ began NC State University, where he worked as a teaching assistant in the History Department and as a graduate assistant with the Fellowship Advising Office while he pursued his M.A. He also occasionally volunteered in the NC State Archaeological Laboratory and Repository. In spring 2015, CJ completed the Certificate of Accomplishment in Teaching. Throughout his career at NC State, he has worked on the editorial staff of the NC State Graduate History Journal, and was selected as editor-in-chief for the 2015-2016 academic year. CJ also presented a paper at the Society for Biblical Literature Conference Annual Meeting in 2014. He defended his thesis, titled “Diocletian’s ‘Great Persecutions’: Minority Religions and the Roman Tetrarchy” in March 2016 and was awarded distinction. At Yale, CJ hopes to continue the work of his M.A. thesis by expanding the chronological parameters of the analysis.  He is also developing an interest in the applications of critical theories (especially feminist and queer theories) to the study of religious violence in antiquity. His primary fields of interest are late antiquity, early Christianity, and Roman imperial history.

A long-time member of the Wolfpack, Kelsey Zavelo graduated from NC State with a bachelor’s degree in History in 2010 and a master’s in History in 2015. Her undergraduate essay “Murder and Mayhem: How the Creek Murders Affected British Policy on Indian Affairs in Georgia during the American Revolution” was published in the Journal of Backcountry Studies in Fall 2009. Kelsey’s M.A. thesis, “In Transition: The United States and South Africa, 1976-1977,” was awarded distinction and nominated for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences Outstanding Thesis award. In 2013, Kelsey served as the co-president of the History Graduate Student Association and the founder and editor-in-chief of the NC State Graduate Journal of History. She is a recipient of the NC State Outstanding Graduate Teaching Assistant award. At Duke, Kelsey plans to study modern American foreign relations with a focus on US-African affairs. She is interested in broadening her analysis of diplomacy by investigating critical intersections of domestic politics and foreign policy during the era of Cold War civil rights. Before enrolling in the fall, Kelsey will spend the summer in South Africa assisting the DukeEngage – Cape Town program.

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