Kayli Hertel – Features Editor
Laura Commins was a history major at Lasell and now teaches the subject at the college. Laura will be teaching two standard and two specialized history courses in the upcoming semester.
Why did you choose history as your major, and later, profession?
I have always loved history. Contingencies are fascinating. My desire to teach history grew out my conviction that what has happened in the past holds relevance for our times. All we have to do is learn how to ask the right questions.
Why return to Lasell as a professor?
I can’t think of anywhere I would rather be! From the first day I stepped onto the Lasell campus as a student I felt at home. The friendliness of the students and faculty removed any sense of awkwardness I might have felt being a non-traditional student. In my senior year I was teaching assistant for Joe Aieta, which confirmed my decision to not only teach, but to come back and teach at Lasell. My professors (who are now my colleagues!) in the Humanities department have been encouraging and helpful from day one. I am very fortunate.
What makes you choose to teach personalized classes?
I enjoy the unconventional. That is the beauty of history; there is always something for everyone. When you find a subject that intrigues you, there are no time constraints. I will be teaching two specialized courses in the spring. The first is on 19th century New York City, a subject that has fascinated me for a long time. The second is on Native American history, a subject that is often overlooked. Elementary educators, out of deference to children’s sensibilities, do not offer the whole story. High schools rarely have time amid the focus on standardized testing to explore anything but the basics. Young people have a well-developed sense of justice. They see the wrongs that have been done to marginalize people throughout history and want to know why.
What are your plans for the future?
I would love to do a course on the history of science and medicine, a passion of mine. I think it would be interesting to do something on the history of World’s Fairs as a cultural phenomenon. The Lewis and Clark expedition lends itself to a number of different approaches. I also like the history of religion in America, and the intersection of literature, history, and philosophy. I am open to ideas. That is the beauty of Lasell; the professors are encouraged to be creative with courses, and we appreciate suggestions from the students.