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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Ball State chapter.

Dr. Carolyn Malone is an Associate Professor of History at Ball State University. I took a class that she taught, HIST 150, which is a compulsory history class for all freshmen. This class ignited a passion for history in me that I had never experienced before. Because of her, I added a history minor. 

What inspired me about Dr. Malone was how real she is. The history she covered was never whitewashed, and it always presented the perspectives of the people that lived through the time period- rather than the leaders. As an aspiring teacher, I aim to teach the way she does: honestly, thoughtfully, and genuinely. 

For Women’s History Month, I decided to interview her. As a role model for me in the world of education, her story and motivations mean the world to me. 

Here it is: a look into the life of a strong and honest woman in academia. 

Since she was the beginning of my history engagement, I started by asking Dr. Malone about the beginning of her passion for history. She had an answer I found quite surprising – PBS, “my passion for history, or British history in particular, began when I started watching Masterpiece Theater on PBS at age 11… The first series I watched was about Henry VIII and his six wives” (Malone). When I heard this from Dr. Malone, I was shocked, not only because I expected a different answer, but also because I was obsessed with Henry VIII, too! The musical “Six” was all I listened to for quite a few months. There is something so special about having specific things in common with a role model in your life. 

When I am an educator, I want my students to receive an unbiased and truthful history education so they can become informed citizens that can further our society. I asked Dr. Malone why she believes it’s important for students and young adults to learn history. She claimed a few different reasons. The first is that knowledge is important to possess simply for its own sake. She went on to say, “Most importantly, I think that knowledge of the past helps us to understand the world today. Today’s issues have their roots in the past and it is important to understand these historical developments and how they contributed to our contemporary world.” She claims that the idea of “knowledge for knowledge’s sake” is old-fashioned, but I disagree. More and more, I think the world yearns for academic hobbies and education just to know. I would pin the true crime craze on this phenomenon. 

A wonderful example of today’s issues being rooted in history is the American Civil War and Reconstruction. In my opinion, the Reconstruction Era is ongoing even now. Racial divides and racism in the United States still have roots in the Civil War. This is why Dr. Malone’s teaching had such an impact on me; she teaches topics in a way that can be tied to current events. I remember talking about modern-day Anti-Semitism while learning about World War II in HIST 150. As an activist, I will take what I learn through my history minor into all movements I am a part of. 

As it is Women’s History Month, I wanted to recognize women in history that have real impacts on women today. Dr. Malone named two women, one in history and one modern. 

The historical figure, Vera Brittain, was a volunteer nurse in World War I. She was a “smart, serious, and idealistic” woman who had a “sheltered upbringing” in her middle-class life. She lost her brother, fiance, and two friends in the war. After this, she became a dedicated pacifist and fought against nuclear weapon creation. Dr. Malone “admire[s] her courage, strength, and commitment to her principles.” 

I did my own research on Vera Brittain, and I found three quotes from the Testament of Youth, her book, that I love. 

“At this time of the year it seems that everything ought to be creative, not destructive, and we should encourage things to live and not die.” 

“To extend love, to promote thought, to lighten suffering, to combat indifference, to inspire activity. 

To know everything of something and something of everything” 

“There is still, I think, not enough recognition by teachers of the fact that the desire to think–which is fundamentally a moral problem–must be induced before the power is developed. Most people, whether men or women, wish above all else to be comfortable, and thought is a pre-eminently uncomfortable process.” 

The second woman that Dr. Malone wrote about was her PhD advisor, Dr. Bonnie Smith. This is who introduced her to the field of women’s history at the University of Rochester in New York. Dr. Malone says that Dr. Smith became her role model as she moved into teaching. 

I am a young woman working toward completing a minor in history. I asked Dr. Malone if she had any advice for other young women doing the same thing. She said her biggest piece of advice was to recognize how many careers there are in the field of history. Not all jobs are historians! There are careers that integrate technology into digital history, or careers that work in public history. She said, “there are many exciting possibilities for young women who want[ed] to pursue a career in history!” 

Next, I asked Dr. Malone about her other hobbies and passions. Her first answer did not surprise me at all, “I love fashion. I went to college with the goal of being a buyer for Bloomingdale’s.” Anyone who has seen how Dr. Malone dresses knows that she loves fashion. Every day I saw a new piece to compliment her on! She says that she loves vintage shopping, and even has a World War II era blouse made by the British Government’s utility clothing scheme. She also loves high-end craft fairs for jewelry made by artisans. Additionally, she loves to craft herself. She makes her own jewelry, and she knits + crochets. During the pandemic, she turned to handicraft as an outlet for stress. 

She loves unique home furnishings and has spent a lot of time decorating her house to be beautiful. “Maybe I could have been an interior decorator!” she says. 

As we came to the end of this interview, I asked Dr. Malone the last question. I asked her to describe herself with one quote. She chose this: 

“In a gentle way, you can shake the world.” – M. Gandhi

I can assure you, Dr. Malone, you have shaken the world. With your influence, I cannot wait to do the same. 

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Sarah Owens

Ball State '25

I am a Ball State University student majoring in special education and minoring in history. I love reading, sewing, and scrapbooking!