History and Education Major Connects Past, Present and Future

by Web Services

For a college student, time in the library isn’t unusual. But an undergraduate student processing documents and artifacts from World War I? That’s a whole other story.

As a history major and an intern for the Wilkes University Archives, senior Logan Yeakel took advantage of a unique opportunity to bring pieces of the past into the present. As a secondary education major, he’ll have the chance to impact the future.

Yeakel graduated from Parkland High School in Allentown, Pennsylvania, and served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps. He started college in California but knew he wanted to come back to Pennsylvania.

His research led him to Veterans Services at Wilkes and the University’s veterans counselor, retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Mark Kaster. “He’s been with me through the entire process and was a major player in me coming to Wilkes,” says Yeakel. “He was always available.”

For Kaster, the commitment to veterans is an extension of his duty. “I took the uniform off, but I continue to serve. I serve the men and women who served the nation,” says Kaster. “They’re part of my family.”

Yeakel found the same level of commitment to student success across campus, particularly in history and education. “You don’t feel like a number. They’re all so willing to help you learn.”

As a junior, Yeakel turned his passion for history into action in the University’s archives, a vast treasure trove full of personal items and hand-written documents housed in the Eugene S. Farley Library.

He worked on the Gwenn Clifford Smith ’50 collection of letters and a radio log from her father, Albert Clifford, who served in the U.S. Army during the final days of World War I. Smith’s estate donated the items to Wilkes in 2020. Yeakel was part of the team who helped type, digitize, organize and label these fragile items, keeping them both safe and accessible for fellow historians.

Before turning to student teaching in the spring, Yeakel completed his history capstone, focusing on the effects of drugs on intellectuals, government officials, athletes and artists from the 19th century into the present. He examined the impact of drugs on the nervous system and looked at the vital current events conversation from a historical perspective.

Amy Sopcak Joseph, assistant professor of history and Yeakel’s capstone advisor, facilitates the student-driven research. “I want to see students gain a better understanding of history and skills they can use in the workplace: collaboration, teamwork and understanding writing as a process.”

Yeakel sees a master’s degree in history, a high school teaching job and a position as a research professor in his future, but he’s grateful that the people at Wilkes are a permanent part of his history. “The faculty and staff are what makes the Wilkes education a quality education.”

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