When alumnus and current student Brendan Cummins (BA ’16) began at the University of Lethbridge in 1989 and left soon after, he had no idea that his life and career would lead full circle and back to the U of L. Now, close to completing his Master of Arts in history while serving as president of the Graduate Students’ Association (GSA), Brendan says he feels the U of L has given him the opportunities he needed to do what he loves.
“I think my experience here at the U of L has shown me what it is that truly lights me up, what makes me tick and what gives me joy. Without my time here at the U of L, I think I would still be wondering what I want to do with my life. Now I know without a doubt.
“The history department has always encouraged me to think outside of narrow questions and really challenge myself. I’ve been privileged to have a couple of excellent mentors who encouraged me in my pursuits and never said that my project couldn’t be done. The U of L has given me the tools I needed to complete some excellent work that I think will start some good conversations, and I’m proud to be part of that.
“History is a combination of storytelling and some detective work. It’s a fascinating discipline in that it always changes because it depends on the perspective of the one telling the story. I love the research. It’s fascinating digging through 19th-century newspapers and reading some crazy stuff and seeing some weird, weird, weird things.
“I think bringing in new graduate students will help the U of L greatly. Not only the quality of the research we do but expanding on some of the really interesting things we do. It definitely speaks to our liberal education roots. I’m really noticing and seeing an actual change in graduate student engagement with their community, as well as the University’s recognition and engagement with the GSA.
“Books are a huge part of my life, my existence. As a historian, I live off of them. The printed word is the basis of my discipline in many cases. I feel so strongly about supporting books and literacy, I’m on the board at the Lethbridge Public Library and planning their 100-year celebrations for 2019.
“Comic books, particularly, have massive backstories because they’ve been around forever. I like characters that are strange and odd, so good copies are harder to find. It’s also a little like treasure hunting. You see a box of them and they may not be important to anyone else, but they mean something to me.
“If I could talk to my 17-year-old self, I would clap him on the back, and tell him to change nothing. I’m so happy to be where I am right at this moment and needed to do all the things I needed to in order to get here.”