Student Spotlight

For the love of the past

Claire Ringer, of Perry, Oklahoma, has always loved history but since coming to OSU, she has fully embraced her love of history through a variety of research projects. 

“I am a Wentz Research Scholar currently compiling research on women in the Dust Bowl. I got another Wentz grant for next year about Women Accepted for Voluntary Emergency Service here at OSU, or the WAVES Project,” Ringer said. 

A lot of her research has been focused on specifically on Oklahoma history but that was simply a happy accident. As a history major and the digital humanities intern at the library, Ringer is constantly sorting through historical documents and being exposed to a past that not many are privileged to see. She credits her faculty mentor, Dr. Laura Arata, and her bosses at the library for encouraging her do research and giving her the tools to do so. 

“The work that they have put in has really made me the student that I am,” she said. 

This passion for the past has influenced her future career goals as well. Before coming to college, she wanted to be a textile conservator but thanks to research, her plans have changed. 

“I have decided that I want to try and become a professor,” Ringer said. “As professors, they do a lot of research. So, this has been a really amazing learning opportunity and something to solidify my desire to become a professor because even though research is really hard, I like it a lot.” 

Ringer’s research has been recognized by multiple campus organizations. She has earned scholarships from both the College of Arts and Sciences Undergraduate Three-Minute Thesis Competition and the OSU Undergraduate Library Research Award for her work on women in the Dust Bowl and how it affected their clothing. 

“It is really nice because I feel like history and the liberal arts are not supported as much because they don’t bring it a ton of money. So, it is nice to be able to win scholarships and bring recognition to the Department of History,” she said. 

Campus involvement with History Club and the Baptist Collegiate Ministry round out Ringer’s schedule. At the end of the day, Ringer knows the value of her education and is so grateful for the chance to study history. 

“I think STEM helps the world physically, but the liberal arts help the world create identity and the world really needs that and STEM can’t give that,” Ringer said. 

So, what does history mean to Ringer? Since she was a child, she has been drawn to history. Growing up, her family would talk about history at the dinner table, but since coming to college it has grown into something more. 

“It is both a hobby and a pastime. Yet, it has come to mean more than that since I have come to college. It has come to be a potential career. It has come to be a community here in the Department of History.”