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Mary-Kathryn Hazel

Mary-Kathryn Hazel, History

We have a great History Department. I would just like to pack them up and take them all with me.
Ask Mary-Kate Hazel a question about history – and settle in for a lively, wide-ranging discussion. 

Since she was a little girl, playing dress-up and pretend at her grandmother’s, Hazel has loved American history, but she used to have difficulty explaining to others why history mattered. 

“That changed on the first day of a class, when my professor posed the question, ‘Why do we study history?’ He then told us to ask students across campus why their major is most important. Civil engineers would say theirs, he said, because a mistake on the job could cause a bridge collapse and people could die. Nurses would point out that if they make a mistake, a patient could die.

“But when a historian makes a mistake, fails to make a truthful account of the past, we get racial inequality, disenfranchisement and violence,” she continues. “Many people get hurt and it permeates our entire society.”

Hazel has blossomed as a scholar at UMass Lowell, winning a prestigious award given by the New England History Teachers’ Association, which helped support her senior year study of United States history. All along, great professors have made a difference.

“A good teacher can make any subject interesting, can encourage you to get outside your comfort zone,” she says. “We have a great History Department. I would just like to pack them up [when I leave] and take them all with me.”

Hazel chose to live on campus, in Commonwealth Honors Program housing.

“Commonwealth Honors students are friendly and like to have fun, but are also serious about academics,” she says. “You feel the security of a small group, a sense of community. And the live-in faculty couple are like parents for the building.”

As a Commonwealth Honors student, Hazel worked on a senior thesis and continued with graduate studies to eventually teach history at a secondary or college level.

Both her brothers – one older, one younger – have chosen UMass campuses. Hazel made the decision at an event for accepted students: “I could see myself here, there were more kids like me,” she says. 

Hazel’s advice for incoming students: “Immerse yourself in your education and just go for it. We’re at a world-class university, earning a degree of incredibly high quality.”