Exploring lost stories
Beyond majors: Develop your integrated thinking
Victor Murphy is many things: a mentor with Big Brothers Big Sisters, president of the African and Latino Alliance of Students (ALAS), a residence hall adviser and a member of Union’s Posse leadership/scholarship program.
One thing he’s not: shy.
“I say hi to everyone on campus,” he says. “And I try to branch out and join clubs whose members aren’t likely to overlap. That way I can introduce people who may not normally interact.”
Making connections is Victor’s specialty. In the classroom, his interdepartmental major equips him to link academic disciplines.
“My majors in history and Africana studies cross into political science, economics and other fields,” he says. “Initially, I saw this as preparation for law school, but my new plan is to pursue a master’s degree in education.”
Exploring history’s lost stories
Victor’s change of focus came from reflecting on his own education and realizing that he had missed an important piece.
“I didn’t really know my own history as an African-American,” he says. “In high school, Black History Month would roll around, and we’d study Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks. But there is so much more to our story.”
In his Africana studies courses, Victor explored the 1960s and the Civil Rights Movement in-depth, including the lives of Malcolm X and Marcus Garvey, “influential figures that are often skimmed over in high school history books because of their militant approach to civil rights.”
Meanwhile, as president of ALAS, he planned all-campus events to teach his classmates about the African American and Latino cultures.
“I began to realize that it’s not just me,” he says. “Many of us lack an understanding of African- American history because it’s not taught extensively in most public schools. That’s when I began to examine our educational system.”
Conducting research, leading change
Victor is excited about his senior thesis, which researches why Africana studies should be taught in public schools worldwide.
“This topic will allow me to merge history, Africana studies, political science, law, global relations and other fields,” he says. “I expect the focus will shift and change throughout the process.”
What won’t change is his eye on the future.
“My ultimate goal is to open a charter school in my hometown that teaches students essential history not typically found in today’s textbooks,” he says. “I’ve already met with the principal of a local middle school who said he will help me map out a business plan. I want to get started early building connections.”
Convergence: Jakub Kaczmarzyk,
neuroscience and music