Today we speak with Kathryn Seu, a recent Rowan University graduate with degrees in History and Anthropology. She will continue her studies by pursuing her master’s degree in Holocaust and Genocide Education, the first program of its kind, through Rowan Global. Kathryn is from West Berlin, NJ (Camden County) and is student association president of the Rowan Center for the Study of Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights (RCHGHR). In this article, she discusses her experience within her studies at Rowan, her goals and her responsibilities as within RCHGHR.
Why did you choose to pursue a master’s?
For my career goals, it feels like the natural next steps. I would like to pursue [a degree] higher than a master’s eventually, so it seems like for what I want to do and with research, it helps to have more of an advanced degree — especially with a specialized field. It definitely helps more to have academic experience.
Why did you choose to study Holocaust and Genocide Education?
Rowan is the only university to offer Holocaust and Genocide Education. You can get degrees in Holocaust and Genocide Studies or Conflict Studies, but Rowan is the only one that has the education aspect. I think it’s really important, especially with so much negativity and hate speech that we see almost everywhere, that we encourage accessible education to these subjects.
Most states don’t require Holocaust education in public school curriculum, so some people don’t even get that education. I think it’s really important to emphasize that and make it accessible for as many people as possible.
Are there any notable differences between the undergraduate program versus the graduate program?
Mostly the course load is different. It’s also interesting because you have a different relationship with your professors. It’s more professional rather than superior and inferior. Rowan already has small class sizes and the master’s or higher education classes are much smaller, so you have more time to have more in depth conversations because you’re not in a classroom with 25 people, it’s more like 10 people. Pretty much everyone knows each other. It’s easier to have a tighter community.
What are your career goals?
I would like to pursue an even higher education and apply for some Ph.D. programs this summer. I would like to go into some sort of research position or public advocacy. I think it’s really important and I love doing research. There’s just so much that we can learn and you can draw connections from the past to the present. I think it’s really important to spread that information to everyone.
What is Rowan Center for the Study of Holocaust, Genocide, and Human Rights (RCHGHR)?
This is a center on campus for interdisciplinary studies to help grow the next generation of educators. The center is run by the professors, but the student association focuses on student-led events on campus like International Holocaust Rememberance Day in January and student-led discussions.
Some of our more popular discussion events were “Antisemitic Tropes in Media” and “Rights on the Reservation,” which was about indigenous rights in America. The main goal is to get students and faculty alike more involved with talking about the Holocaust Genocide and human rights.
What was your role or involvement with the RCHGHR?
For the student association, I am the president, and one of the big responsibilities was planning International Holocaust Remembrance Day. That was at the beginning of January, and I would only have a couple of weeks to work it out because we weren’t a charter, so we didn’t have our own budget. It was really nice to have other organizations coordinate to help bring food, candles and lighters.
We have meetings every other week, and I would work on a presentation or a discussion topic. For example, the one that we had before the end of the semester was about The Boy in the Striped Pajamas and why it’s not a good book. Meetings are around discussion topics like this to get more people involved.
Why did you choose to be involved with the RCHGHR?
I took a Historical Methods class with Professor Manning and at that time I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with history and anthropology. I thought I was going to be an Egyptologist for a while, but after I took that class I thought that this might be it. Professor Manning told me about the student association and recommended that I joined so I did. I did that for a semester and at that time the President was graduating and thought that I should take on that role after he left.
Are you currently involved in any other activities or clubs at Rowan?
For the past two semesters I was involved with the Mixed Martial Arts Club as a recreational activity. I was also involved with Phi Alpha Theta, which is the National History Honor Society and Lambda Alpha, which is the Anthropology Honor Society.
What is your most memorable experience at Rowan?
My situation was unique because I did my undergrad in three years and I started in Fall of 2019 and then we immediately went online next semester. I really only had three semesters in person, but even still, the whole experience was very memorable. Probably the most memorable experience was getting to speak at graduation, which was a pretty big deal to me.
What class during your studies in Holocaust and Genocide Education do you find most memorable? Why?
I just got back from a study abroad trip for the class, Nazi Germany & the Holocaust. It was 13 days and we were in Germany, Poland, Czechia and Austria. We got to see and do so much. We went to so many museums that I can’t even begin to list how many. It was really impactful because the furthest I had gone was Florida. This trip was the most memorable and the most enriching for my education because I had never been to a concentration camp before. I had never seen all these sights that we talked about.
It was really powerful to be there because we read about this all the time, but going to all these museums, talking to the locals, and seeing all these places and memorials in real life was really impactful.
How do you think Rowan has prepared you for your future endeavors?
My education at Rowan has been incredibly interdisciplinary. I feel like I’ve gotten so much out of my two majors and undergraduate programs than what I’ll get in graduate school. With Holocaust and Genocide Education, the principles that you learn can be applied to other areas of history. You’ll sometimes hear it referred to as the “hard histories,” like the Holocaust and slavery. The same principles of education can be applied to different areas, and I think that has been the main thing that Rowan has been able to do for me, and I’m very grateful for it.
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