In this series, Elon College, the College of Arts and Sciences is shining the spotlight on distinguished members of the Class of 2020 from a wide array of disciplines.
A history major with a minor in Jewish studies, Hall earned the Outstanding Senior Award for the Department of History and Geography for the Class of 2020.
What drew you to history as a major?
I actually started out at another school as a music major. I did relatively well with that focus, but I began noticing that I enjoyed my history classes the most, so I left music behind and went in this direction instead. It was definitely the right decision for me. I have also done a lot of traveling overseas, which gave me some exposure to places and people that were different from my own background. Majoring in history gave me an opportunity to explore those differences more in-depth.
What were your research topics and how did you choose those subjects? How did research enrich your education?
I was able to explore several research topics while I was at Elon, but all of them were focused on Jewish history because that was (and is) my passion. Last semester, I explored the impact of anti-Jewish ideology on German protestant theology before, during, and after the Third Reich. It was an incredibly difficult topic to investigate because I had to confront a lot of preexisting conceptions that I had as a Christian regarding the topic.
At the same time, I was able to complete an independent research project guided by Professor of Religious Studies Lynn Huber to fulfill my Experiential Learning Requirement. I researched the anti-Jewish theology that existed in Justin Martyr’s Dialogue with Trypho and contrasted the arguments that he made with the language used in the New Testament book of Luke.
This semester, I was able to complete another research project that focused on the American Zionist Jessie Sampter and how she engaged with the concept of a “Jewish race” in her educational writings about Zionism in the 1920s and 1930s.
All of my research experiences have been enriching (if at times challenging) and I look forward to utilizing the skills I have learned in future areas of research.
What is your proudest accomplishment while at Elon?
Finishing. It has taken me a while to complete my undergraduate degree, so actually receiving my degree will be a dream come true.
Did a particular professor influence you, mentor you or help you grow in significant or unexpected ways?
It is hard to name just one person who has helped me on this journey, so I am going to list a few. Adjunct Instructor in World Languages and Cultures Boaz Avraham-Katz was the first professor who really took me under his wing and I could not be more grateful for the time and energy that he invested in my education and activities at Elon. His guidance and support were invaluable on so many occasions.
Within the History Department, every professor that I had the privilege of interacting with was helpful and supportive in so many ways, specifically Assistant Professor of History Andrea Sinn who oversaw my requirements within the Jewish studies minor and who also challenged my perspectives about Christianity within the Third Reich; Professor of History Charles Irons who has been so gracious and encouraging throughout this entire Coronavirus scare; Visiting Assistant Professor of History Shayna Mehas, whose classes were a breath of fresh air in the midst of craziness; Associate Professor of History Michael Carignan, my advisor, who gave me honest advice but also did not try to discourage me when I came up with (semi-)crazy ideas; and Professor of History Clyde Ellis, who encouraged me so much when I was first learning the ins and outs of historical research. I also have to mention Dr. Lynn Huber from the Religious Studies Department and her invaluable feedback as I was completing my ELR.
What are your future plans?
My original plan was to take a year off from school to pay off part of my student loans and then to look at going to graduate school. However, there is a lot that is up in the air at the moment, so I have a feeling I am going to have to wait and see what adventure is waiting around the corner.
What advice would you give to future Elon students, or what do you wish you had known as a first-year student?
Never underestimate the power of prayer, a nap, and a good meal to get you through stressful situations.
What’s your favorite Elon tradition?
Family weekend. Because my family lives locally, it was so much fun for all of us to go to the football game and other events without there being much pressure about travel and accommodations.