History Lesson - Vanessa Bui '12

History Lesson

Every school year kids across America question their history teachers: “Why do we have to learn this?” which a deft teacher will mold into “What can we learn from history?”

Those questions are easily answered, according to Vanessa Bui '12. Vanessa sees U.S. history as common ground for all Americans, saying, “No matter what race, age, or any other barrier, it can’t be denied that when one is American, one shares and helps establish American history and culture.”

As a history major and secondary education minor, Vanessa aspires to become a high school U.S. history teacher and plans to teach her students to embrace the many different cultures that are part of our nation’s identity. 

Having spent her life a short distance from Disneyland in Orange County, California, Vanessa was looking for a more diverse community when choosing a college. Vanessa was originally enrolled in a large university in California, but at the last minute, she made the decision to attend Saint Mary’s. She says, “I changed my mind literally two weeks before school began. I wanted a change in lifestyle and I definitely got it.”

Vanessa feels that Saint Mary’s is a better fit than the larger universities she was considering. “I chose Saint Mary’s because it is an all women’s institution and I thought it would help me cultivate my identity as an Asian-American.”

For Vanessa, the diversity on campus is one of Saint Mary's most appealing qualities. “I feel like I’ve met so many women from different backgrounds and they each have a story to tell. This is a nice change of pace for me.”

With the support of nurturing professors, in the education and history departments, and outside of them, Vanessa has been able to explore who she is and what it means to be Asian-American through her class readings and assignments. She’s also learning how to apply her knowledge of history once she graduates, so she can help answer her future students’ questions about the importance of U.S. history and their place in it. 

—Lauren DeBruce '11