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Alumna, Amy Vidunas, Gives Back to the History Department

Alumna, Amy Vidunas

 |  Ingrid Hoffius

Graduate students often find it difficult making ends meet especially if they are going to school full time. Alumna, Amy Vidunas, ’07, wants to make it a little bit easier.

Amy Vidunas was a fifth grade Social Studies teacher working in California when she decided to return to school to obtain a Masters degree in History.  Since the fifth grade curriculum covers US History through 1800, she wanted to go east to study in an area close to many of the places she was teaching her students about. In 2002, she applied and was admitted to NC State’s Masters Program in History. 

Her thesis ended up focusing on recent US history. The project, “Jimmy Carter, Mexico, and the Natural Gas Contract Negotiations of 1977-1979” required travel to the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library in Atlanta. Vidunas was on a tight budget, “I remember being downright jubilant the night at the library when I found the broken microfilm copy machine; I inserted one quarter and was able to make some 50 copies instead of just one.”

Vidunas was not expecting the History Department to refund the cost of her airline ticket to fly to Atlanta.  Dr. Nancy Mitchell, her thesis chair,  asked the department for the funding and the request was granted. Says Vidunas, “It was a nice surprise.”  

Vidunas is about to start her eighteenth year of teaching 5th grade in the Cupertino Union School District. Says Vidunas, “I received an excellent education at NCSU and thoroughly enjoyed my experience as a graduate student. I can absolutely state that my degree made me a better teacher.”  

She now wants to help others in the way that she was helped.

“I had never forgotten the History Department’s generosity.”

– Amy Vidunas

In August 2016, Amy established an annual gift of $500 to the History Enhancement Fund which will support graduate student travel for research and conferences.  Says Amy about the gift, “It doesn’t take a huge amount of money to positively impact a program.”

Department Head, David Zonderman, said, “Amy is truly ‘paying it forward.’ Her generous annual gift to the department will help us continue to fund graduate student research just as we were able to support her. We hope other students, whom the department has supported in the past, will read her story and be motivated to support students as well. 

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