Graduate student successes in non-academic employment

Dear colleagues,

While the Graduate Program in History has had much to cheer about this year with three of its recent PhDs successfully making their way into tenure-track positions, it is nevertheless important to recognize that many of our doctoral students have found their way into great jobs outside of academia, and will continue to do so in the coming years. How the Program effectively communicates the potential and possibilities of non-academic jobs to graduate students is an ongoing area of concern, and so this email highlights the recent achievements of some of our PhD students and graduates in the non-academic world. It is obviously important for graduate students to get a better sense of the myriad careers out there that match their skills and training, so please take some time to examine the career paths described below.

It is thus a pleasure to relate below news about Jamie Trepanier, Daphne Bonar, Susana Miranda, Lisa Rumiel, Laura Godsoe, Cynthia Belaskie and Heather Steel.
A special word of thanks goes to senior PhD students Angela Rooke and Brian MacDowall who provided invaluable initiative and information here.

1. Jamie Trepanier (PhD 5) is one of three historians recently hired by the Museum of Civilization, and one of the two hired on a permanent basis. He has been there for just over a month with the Exhibitions and Research Branch with the official title of Historian. Jamie is part of the team designing the new Canadian history hall in the museum and, after the project’s completion in 2017, will be a historian with the research division. His dissertation research taps into the rich but as yet unexplored archival records of the Boy Scout movement between the 1910s and 1960s to explore changes in French and English-Canadian nationalisms, important shifts in attitudes towards the Canadian North and its indigenous population and the changing relationship between organized religion and secular youth movements. Jamie was awarded a Vanier Graduate Scholarship in 2010, and in 2012 published an article from his MA research in Quebec Studies. He also served as coordinator in the Active History group of public historians between 2010 and 2012. Prior to his arrival at York in 2008, Jamie also gained experience as an interpretation officer at the Library of Parliament, a legislative assistant and a parliamentary intern. He also worked as a guide/interpreter at both the Vimy Ridge Canadian Memorial and Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial commemorative sites.

2. Daphne Bonar graduated in 2007 with a dissertation entitled “Local Conflict, Local Ties: Society and the State in Seventeenth Century Auvergne”, co-supervised by Prof. Tim Le Goff and Prof. Tom Cohen. After working as a sessional instructor at both York and Lakehead universities, she now works as a senior policy advisor for the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Training, Colleges, and Universities. Her unit is known as the Postsecondary Education Quality Assessment Board, an arms-length agency that assesses the quality of degree programs offered (or proposed to offer) in Ontario by institutions that do not already have an act of legislature permitting them to offer degree-level programming. She coordinates the PEQAB’s review activities, engaging subject matter experts and helping to prepare all materials related to an application so that the Board can make an informed recommendation to the Minister.

3. Susana Miranda defended her PhD dissertation, entitled “Not Ashamed or Afraid: Portuguese Immigrant Women in Toronto’s Cleaning Industry, 1950-1995”, supervised by Professor Roberto Perin, in 2010. She now works as the Information and Privacy Coordinator for the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities. She coordinates access to information requests under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, which largely originate from the media, opposition and associations/unions. She also provides policy advice on privacy protection for both Ministries and reports that she “got a contract at EDU/TCU by networking with people I knew who worked in government. There are other York history grads working in EDU and TCU – quite a few MAs.”

4. Lisa Rumiel defended her PhD in 2009. It is entitled “Random Murder by Technology: The Role of Scientific and Biomedical Experts in the Anti-Nuclear Movement, 1969-1992” and was supervised by the late Professor Gina Feldberg. She has recently secured a job as Research Projects Facilitator at Ryerson University. She works with faculty across all faculties in the university to help them write tricouncil (SSHRC, NSERC, CIHR) grant proposals. Her role varies from actually writing the grant (mainly for the large team grants) to providing writing assistance, doing content peer-reviews and other reviews based on the guidelines, acting as a facilitator, doing faculty outreach, and editing.

5. Laura Godsoe defended her PhD in 2011. It is entitled “Pour la grandeur de la patrie et nous memes: Reading Women’s Colonial Work in the Pages of the Women’s Press in France, 1870-1914,” supervised by Professor Bill Irvine. She is the new Acquistions Editor at Canadian Scholars’ Press/Women’s Press, where she is responsible for acquiring new titles for their higher-education publishing program, with a particular focus on the college market. She also performs market research to anticipate needs in key subject areas (health studies, sociology, gender and sexuality, history, etc.). She works with authors on works in progress, coordinates peer reviews, and ensures that books are delivered on time and on budget. She contributes to design and web content and consults with the marketing staff regarding book promotion.

6. Cynthia Belaskie currently works as the Senior Advisor of Development for the Research Office for Administration, Development and Support (ROADS) at McMaster University. She assists researchers with proposal development by reviewing applications, providing advice, and drafting institutional elements of proposals, as applicable. Her own perspective on what she does, however, is as follows: “Every day I get to read myself into a wide variety of interesting research topics (some of my favorites have been: migrant labour, philanthropy, homelessness, bullying, Autism, cancer, aging, obesity) and help researchers craft the best proposal possible to get the money they need to effect positive change. The work is stimulating and rewarding – and best – I use my graduate training every single day. Reading, writing, lecturing, presenting, critical analysis and simply understanding how universities and funding agencies work.”

7. In June 2012 Heather Steel gained a position as Insights Manager at the Institute for Canadian Citizenship. The ICC is a registered charity that aims to ensure that new citizens are welcomed and included as equals, and fosters a culture of engaged, active citizenship for all Canadians primarily through two programs – the Cultural Access Pass and Building Citizenship program. The Cultural Access Pass gives all new citizens free entry to participating cultural attractions (museums, galleries, parks, etc.) for one year from the date of their citizenship ceremony. In the Building Citizenship program, volunteer committees across Canada organize community citizenship ceremonies, including unique roundtable discussions on citizenship. Thousands of new citizens participate in these programs, an audience that stakeholders in the public, non-profit, and private sectors would love to get to know better. Heather managed this program previously and had also worked with Citizenship and Immigration Canada as a communications analyst, writing media advisories, organizing events and news conferences involving the Minister and writing articles for internal and external newsletters.

Congratulations to all!