Department of History

Jennifer Stapel Pietropaolo

Date of Degree:
Bachelor of Arts in History and Sociology, 2007 and Master of Education (MEd), Administration and Policy Studies, 2011

Current Position:  Associate Director, University of Pittsburgh, Department of Psychology Undergraduate Advising Office

What are you going to do with a history degree?  (Insert eye roll and head tilt here!)  I can’t tell you how many times I was asked this question as an undergraduate student.  To complicate matters, I was a non-traditional student, working full-time and raising two young boys and it seemed to be expected that I had a solid life plan moving forward.  Admittedly, I had no idea what I was going to “be when I grew up” and needed some serious soul searching.

I always loved history and understanding how we’ve come to be where we are and naturally gravitated toward historically focused courses to fulfill my general education requirements.  I quickly realized that not only did I love the material I was learning but I was good at interpreting and relating that information to current events. 

Little did I know that the courses I took in the History Department would shape my future in a way I could have never imagined!  Dr. Tony Novosel helped me understand the value of a well written argument through my many (many) paper revisions in his honors Western Civilization course.  Dr. Liann Tsoukas was instrumental in my understanding of social change, movements and unrest throughout the middle of the twentieth century. 

This knowledge was instrumental to my success in graduate school where I studied the effects of social inequality in the K-12 public education system.  A strong writing background, the ability to understand the impact of past and current events on society and the confidence of a sound, data driven argument has served me well in both my personal and professional life.

As an academic advisor and associate director of advising I meet with students of all backgrounds, education levels and interests.  I greatly enjoy conversations about what they “want to be when they grow up” and can relate when they are uncertain – just as I once was.  By following my heart and studying my passions in history and sociology I have become a consistently and fully-employed productive member of society!  I love my career in higher education and am incredibly thankful to Tony, Liann and all those who have helped me achieve more than I ever dreamed.