Kelly Aquilla

Double Major: History and Secondary Education

Kelly Aquilla

What sort of student takes six months off from college to visit Disney World? Roller coaster fanatic? Obsessive trinket collector? Hardly.

Kelly Aquilla sought the thrill of an internship rather than a thrill ride. Aquilla, an aspiring secondary school history teacher, is driven to examine serious questions about how teachers teach, and The Walt Disney Corporation is expert in addressing one of them: How do you create an environment where everyone matters?

Inspired to study history by her high school teacher, Aquilla appreciates the impact of good teaching. Her interests focus far beyond the “what and when” of traditional history to the “why and how.” How have teachers changed the ways they teach history over time? How do teachers address the controversial issues in history so that students hear multiple viewpoints?

“Before, the history teacher’s mission was to turn students into citizens. How that has changed over time is amazing! The historical facts don’t change, but our interpretations and perceptions do. Now our goal is to turn students into multi-dimensional citizens with critical thinking skills.”

Now [the history teacher’s] goal is to turn students into multi-dimensional citizens with critical thinking skills.”

Kelly Aquilla

A member of both the history and education honor societies, a published author, and the recipient of the Sanders Distinguished Presidential Scholarship for 2015-16, Aquilla credits her research mentor, Associate Professor and Assistant Chair Elizabeth Gray, and other dedicated professors with helping her succeed. “They are so interested in getting you involved. They open up doors for you to do things that other undergraduates in our field are not doing. We are well trained in our discipline.”

Aquilla’s future students are to be envied. They will examine complex historical events from many perspectives by listening to many voices, some previously unheard. Her students will learn that history is filled with unexpected dips and turns that encourage both introspection about the past and a sense of excitement about the future.