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Careers in History: Justice Ministry

Rachel Meyer ('06)

Works in prevention of human trafficking in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Rachel Meyer, Kim and BeckiI graduated in May of 2006 with a double major of History and German with Secondary Education. I worked in China for four years teaching at an international school. While I was there, I met two other teachers (Kim and Becki), and we began volunteering with an organization working with women in brothels. We wanted to work full-time in the field of anti-trafficking for sexual exploitation, so we moved to Cambodia where the need is great and also a lot of experienced NGOs (non-governmental organizations) are working. Now all three of us work in the area of trafficking prevention outside of Phnom Penh as school administrators in a high-risk village.

Why did you choose to major in history at Calvin? Why did you choose your minor?

I loved studying history in high school, so it seemed natural to continue with it in college. I have always had a knack for the humanities, so having a liberal arts education from Calvin was a perfect fit for me. I don't think that I declared German as my double major until the end of my junior year. I just took a class every semester because I loved my professors, and by the end I had enough credits for a second major!

How did your time at Calvin prepare you for what you are doing now?

I participated in service-learning throughout all my years at Calvin. I was involved in my dorm's community partnership as a participant and later as a coordinator. I also worked in the Service-Learning Center, and all these experiences really helped to cement in me a heart for service-learning. I would have never guessed that I would have ended up as a school administrator in Cambodia, but my education at Calvin seems to have prepared me for anything!

What are your plans for the future?

My goal is to work myself out of my job. We are in the process of training our Cambodian managers to take over our jobs as the school principals. The day-to-day details of running a school are complex, but we are on track for having them take over the weekly management in 2014. After that, we will see where God takes us!

Do you have any advice for current students or those thinking of majoring in history at Calvin?

Don't limit where you think your history degree will take you. I remember being nervous about where I was going to end up after graduation, and here I am in Cambodia after living in China for four years. Also, find a topic that you love for writing your senior thesis. The deadline was quickly approaching for me to submit my topic, and one of my professors suggested something that would combine my German and history. It was a perfect combination!

For more information on Rachel's ministry, go to

Austin Graff  

Social media manager for International Justice Mission

Austin Graff in KazakstanI work as the Artist Partner and Social Media Marketing Manager within the International Justice Mission (IJM)'s Global Communications team. My job is two fold: I work with musicians and celebrities who want to use their voice to stand up for the oppressed around the world. I also manage IJM's social media presence (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube) growing our base and connecting them with breaking news from the Field and ways to engage the work of justice in tangible ways.

Why did you choose to major in history at Calvin?

When I was a sophomore, I asked my professors what I should study with the goal of working in international relations. They told me to study international relations, history, and economics. As economics and I aren't too good of friends, I double majored in International Relations and History.

How did your time at Calvin prepare you for what you are doing now?

The solid liberal arts education at Calvin prepared me for the profession I have now.  No matter where you go next (career, grad school, etc.), the education at Calvin prepares you to think for yourself and to organize and present your thoughts. These skills will help mold you into a valuable employee who goes beyond doing what you are told, and instead tries to innovate and redeem your profession for the better.

What are some of your memories of the Calvin History Department?

My memories are of the amazing professors who sought to teach and inspire their students.  I am convinced the History Department has the highest number of quality professors out of any department at Calvin.  I remember the wisdom of Prof. Van Vugt, the energy and the good nature of Prof. Miller, the witty sarcasm of Prof. Bratt, the inspiration of Prof. Howard, the challenging questions of Prof. Katerberg, and good laughs with Prof. Bays.

Do you have any advice for current students or those thinking of majoring in history at Calvin?

My advice is to make the most of your experience at Calvin. It is a unique place and a unique time in your life where you can engage your community and get involved. Have a genuine desire to learn and meet people and throw yourself into activities. They will mold you. Make the most of the professors and students who are there to help you grow and become the person God wants you to be.


Graduate school

Many Calvin History graduates go on for advanced degrees. Here are some of the schools that recent History graduates have attended.

Boston College
Calvin Theological Seminary
Clemson University
Cornell University Law School
Davenport University
Fuller Theological Seminary
Grand Valley State University
Johns Hopkins University
Marquette University
Michigan State University
Ohio State University
Pepperdine University
Purdue University
SUNY College at Binghamton
Thomas M. Cooley Law School
University of Cincinnati
University of Michigan – Ann Arbor
University of Wales
University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee
University of Western Ontario
Wayne State University
Western Michigan University
Western Theological Seminary
Wheaton College – Illinois
Yale University