Alumni Spotlight: December 2019 – Dr. Shelly Cline

Historian for the Midwest Center for Holocaust Education in Overland Park, KS.

What is your area of study?

I earned my doctorate in History, and I specialized in European history with British and Women’s history as subfields. My dissertation focused on the gendered perpetration of the Holocaust. I also taught in, what was at the time, Humanities and Western Civilization, which was a definite highlight of my grad school years. 

What is your current career or position title?

I am currently the Historian for the Midwest Center for Holocaust Education (MCHE) in Overland Park, KS. We are an educational outreach center that works with students, teachers, members of the public and area universities. Through a study of the Holocaust, MCHE seeks to combat hatred and intolerance, while increasing compassion and understanding. We teach what can happen within a democratic society when bigotry and misinformation go unchallenged. 

What do you do?

In support of our mission teach the Holocaust and make the lessons of the past matter today, I create and deliver history content to our public audiences. Sometimes this is in in the form of lectures or courses for our adult learners, other times it is in the format of commemorative events. I also work with Holocaust survivors and their families in a variety of capacities. This has been a very rewarding process and has allowed me to learn a lot about local Kansas City history.  I also facilitate an interdisciplinary round table seminar of area university faculty that teach the Holocaust. We meet once a semester to hear outside scholars present their research or to discuss issues of teaching the Holocaust in today’s world. And I curate an annual film series each spring.

What is your favorite aspect of your career?

My favorite part of my job is when I am invited to speak to governmental agencies. I’ve spoken to Homeland Security, the FBI, and the Army Corps of Engineers to give talks on the path and process of this genocide.  I believe it is especially important for those working in government to understand how and why these events occur.  On a lighter note, I also very much enjoy putting together our film series. I get to watch a lot of great films! And I am lucky to have really great colleagues, we are a small team, but I’m fortunate to be with people who are so creative and supportive. 

What advice do you give for current graduate students?

I would say always be thinking about opportunities outside academia, even if academia is your plan. Or if you are disillusioned with academia, realized that there are problems in every system, it’s just finding the right trade-off that works for you.  I loved graduate school, but it also felt like a test of endurance, so remember to take care of yourself along the way!