Kayla Banks headshot

Major: History
Minors: Studio Arts and German
Next Step: Historic Deerfield Museum Fellowship

During her four years as a history major in the LMU Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts (BCLA), Kayla Banks ’22 has learned that the study of history can lead to a wide range of exciting opportunities and careers. Banks will pursue one such opportunity this summer as a fellow at the Historic Deerfield Museum in western Massachusetts. She will spend nine weeks in the prestigious residential program studying their collections; conducting original research; and visiting museums and historic sites in New England, the Mid-Atlantic, and Virginia.

“A major bonus is the focus on New England regional history and being able to conduct that research on-site. Growing up on the west coast my whole life, it will be exciting to learn about a new region,” says Banks.

Banks is not the first Lion to be awarded the Deerfield Fellowship. LMU Chancellor Mike Engh, S.J., attended the program after graduating from Loyola University in 1972 and went on to earn a Ph.D. at University of Wisconsin-Madison, join the Jesuits, become a history professor in BCLA, then BCLA Dean, President of Santa Clara University, and now LMU Chancellor.

The intensive and selective program is excellent preparation for graduate school and careers in higher education, museum work or librarianship, all of which align with Banks’ professional aspirations. “When I tell people I’m a history major, usually people are like ‘So…teacher?’ And that’s not to put down the teaching profession, but there are various other careers open to History majors. My future professional goals are to go to graduate school for Library Sciences and to find work doing collections-based research in a museum, or helping other people conduct research at an educational institution, like how some of the wonderful Librarians do in our William H. Hannon Library,” says Banks.

Banks’ decision to major in history “was motivated by the injustices that I was being informed about outside of public-school history classes, specifically histories of racial injustice in the US.” There is a “sense of power” in understanding the historical context behind our present circumstances, and knowing that such knowledge is a powerful tool to create a better future.

“I have had some awesome mentors in the History Department/BCLA,” says Banks. “Professor Lauren Cole introduced me to the basics of historical writing and analyzing primary and secondary sources. Professor Nicolas Rosenthal showed me how cool history could be, specifically with following your interests and being creative in how you use your source materials.”

The expansive nature of a history degree is also what Banks appreciated in her LMU liberal arts education. She was consistently surprised and impressed by the ways in which concepts from one course supported the work she was doing in a completely different course. And while at LMU, Banks sought out opportunities to be intellectually curious and further explore various passions. In addition to her major in history, Banks nurtured a lifelong love of art as a studio arts minor where she was able to take classes down the street at Otis College of Art and Design, and work as a cartoonist for the Loyolan.

Banks also minored in German after taking a risk and enrolling in an introductory German course to fulfill her language exploration flag. She found the experience “weird and challenging” and loved it so much that she continued taking German classes throughout her time at LMU.

Banks embodies the university’s mission of educating the whole person, and is grateful to the professors who have helped her along the way. She encourages students to take advantage of office hours, and get to know your professors. “What I have found in BCLA, especially within the History Department, is that the professors really do care about your success,” says Banks. “Most importantly they respond to the energy and care that you put into your work in equal measure.”