History in Practice

February 5, 2016
Kasey Cheydleur
Sarah Cole ’14 posed with former President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn
Sarah Cole ’14 with former President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn. Photo credit: Sarah Cole

Sarah Cole ’14 says she chose to major in history with a concentration in Middle Eastern studies because of history’s interdisciplinary nature. “I like history because it challenges people to look at modern events in the context of culture and individuals, in addition to more classic political and socioeconomic factors,” she says.

The Orange County, California, native is currently working for the Carter Center, a nonprofit founded by former President Jimmy Carter and his wife Rosalynn to fight disease, hunger, poverty, conflict, and oppression around the world. Cole joined the Carter Center as an intern for the center’s Conflict Resolution Program, specifically the “Countering ISIS Propaganda” project. The research she conducted on ISIS’s official magazine contributed to a recent paper published by the Carter Center. After her internship ended, Cole chose to continue working for the center full time in development as part of the direct mail office. She says while she originally chose to work with the center to gain experience in professional Middle Eastern studies research, she has since realized the most important knowledge she has gained during the experience is about the day-to-day inner workings of an NGO.

She says the perspective she acquired at Oberlin has helped her learn from her coworkers’ experience. “Everybody I work with knows some skill that I do not or sees some problem in a different way, and Oberlin taught me to be humble enough to admit I do not know everything, but courageous enough to learn more,” she says.

Cole plans to attend graduate school in the fall and pursue a master’s degree in an international relations field, with the eventual goal of a career in international relations research.

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