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University of Wisconsin Oshkosh alumna Jennifer Depew has accepted an offer to pursue graduate studies in U.S. history at Stanford University—one step closer to her goal of becoming a college professor.

Depew ’18, will be among a small cohort of students participating in Stanford’s 2020 Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program. Scholars receive financial support for tuition and fees, as well as a stipend covering associated academic expenses, room and board and personal expenses.

“I am very excited about this next step in my journey,” Depew said. “I fell in love with Stanford when I visited and I feel as though it is a place where I would really be able to thrive as a person and as a historian.”

Located in California, 35 miles south of San Francisco, Stanford is regarded as one of the nation’s top research and teaching universities.


A native of Appleton, Depew graduated summa cum laude from UW Oshkosh in December 2018, with degrees in history and political science. She has spent the past year working and applying to graduate schools.

She will be the first student at UW Oshkosh to be published for a second year in Oshkosh Scholar—a peer-reviewed research publication from the Office of Student Research and Creative Activity (OSRCA) that is due out later this month.

“I am certain that undergraduate research was the key to my being selected (as a Knight-Hennessy Scholar),” Depew said.

In her grad school applications, she was able to boast involvement in the Lands We Share initiative, as well as time spent with the student research club URECA, her two undergraduate publications, conference presentations and small history projects around campus through the University Archives.

“I could essentially make the case that I was already capable of doing all of the things required of a professor because I had already done them in some form,” she added.

Depew had to make the “toughest decision of her life” recently, because she also was accepted by Harvard University.

Trips to Harvard and Stanford were cancelled due to coronavirus, but she had visited Stanford in early February as part of the Knight-Hennessy Scholars Immersion Weekend.

She was very impressed with Harvard, but ultimately decided Stanford would fit better with her life and ultimate goals.

UW Oshkosh history professor and iOSRCA nterim director, Stephen Kercher, said Depew has benefited from UW Oshkosh’s excellent Honors experience and support of great faculty in the College of Letters and Science.

“The Provost’s Office deserves special credit for providing Jennifer with auxiliary student research assistantship funding, the opportunity to brag to graduate admissions offices that she published two articles in the only peer-reviewed undergraduate research journal in Wisconsin and the ability to present her research at NCUR—an interdisciplinary undergraduate research conference,” Kercher said.

Kercher said there is “exceptional pride” about Depew’s achievements within the UWO community.

He said Depew’s story provides inspiration to the notion that a UWO student who works hard and leverages the many resources and opportunities available can earn a graduate scholarship to one of the “most elite programs” in the country.

Historical focus

“I am particularly thrilled to see that Jennifer’s engagement with research at UW Oshkosh—from engaging in research in her upper-level, capstone and Honors seminar classes to collaborating with faculty on research, publishing articles in Oshkosh Scholar and attending undergraduate research conferences―has convinced her to pursue historical research for a career,” Kercher said.

Depew’s passion for history blossomed during her days at Appleton West High School.

“I spent a lot of time as a kid with historical fiction, but I really fell in love with the subject in high school,” Depew said. “I had a great AP World History teacher (Valerie Cox) my sophomore year who really made the past come alive. Ever since then, I have been hooked!”

She said her goal as a historian is to interpret the past with extreme precision and care and get people excited about it.

“I think that the more people care about history, the more they are willing to truly engage with the past for the benefit of the present,” Depew said. “Everything about today’s world exists because of something that happened at some point in the past, and I think that understanding that is key to making changes for the better in the present or future.

At UW Oshkosh, Depew sought out challenging research and leadership experiences that helped develop skills in writing, analytical thinking, public speaking and collaborative teamwork. Her research was published, presented at state and national conferences and showcased in local and statewide historical exhibits.

Top-notch training

The Knight-Hennessy Scholars program aims to build a multidisciplinary cohort of Stanford graduate students dedicated to addressing the world’s greatest challenges, according to the school.

Depew was notified of her selection in February, while at an airport on her way to the school’s immersion weekend.

At Stanford, she’ll be part of a combined master’s and doctoral program for the next five-plus years.

Depew’s family supports her journey and recognizes she has a special opportunity to gain concentrated, top-tier leadership experience while completing a Ph.D.

“I cannot wait to get started with everything,” she said.

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