Hard work pays off for young historian | History | SIU

Southern Illinois University



College of Liberal Arts

Hard work pays off for young historian

Jazma Sutton

After lots of hard work, things are coming up roses for our alumna Jazma Sutton, who was a double major in History and Africana Studies. She was just appointed to be an editorial assistant for the Journal of American History.

Jazma originally came to SIU from Romeoville to pursue a degree in Dental Hygiene. After shadowing someone to see what it was all about, she realized the profession was not for her. Soon thereafter she enrolled in a class with Dr. Pamela Smoot and was surprised to discover an interest in history, a subject she had cared little about in high school. After two additional history courses with Dr. Shannen Williams, Jazma realized she had found a new direction. She had never featured herself as a historian but “seeing what they did, their research, made me think I wanted to do that.”

Professor of History Natasha Zaretsky lauds Sutton's dedication: "Jazma was one of the strongest, most dedicated history students I've encountered in recent memory. Whether she was engaged in primary source research at Morris Library's Special Collections, reading works of historical scholarship, dialoguing with her classmates, or writing papers, Jazma consistently showed a level of engagement, creativity and seriousness that will serve her well as she moves to the next stage of her career as a historian. It's students like Jazma who make teaching at SIU so meaningful."

Sutton went on graduate study in History at Indiana University Bloomington, where she is in the Ph.D. program.

Her parting advice to entering freshmen? “Get involved on campus. Take advantage of the resources that the university has to offer—especially the research opportunities.” Recalling how shy she was on arrival, she urges “Don’t be afraid to build mentoring relationships with professors. These help you!” She counts the McNair experience as the best memory she will take away from her years at SIU.

Jazma graduated magna cum laude as a member of the University Honors Program. She was the recipient of many scholarships and awards during her career at SIU. Among them were: the Edward O’Day Paper Prize for the best undergraduate history paper written at SIU during the year; the Norman Caldwell / James R. Sanders Scholarship for a senior majoring in history with the highest GPA; the Emma Smith Hough Library Research Scholarship Award from Morris Library; the Donna M. Summerfield Women’s Studies Undergraduate Scholarship from Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies, and the African American Achievement Scholarship.

In addition to engaging in original research, Jazma also participated in the “Speaking and Teaching” RSO, volunteered at the Boys and Girls Club of Carbondale, and is a member of Delta Epsilon Iota Academic Honor Society, Sigma Epsilon chapter.