Russell Pope

Russell Pope Study Abroad in Israel 2017

Photo Credit Russell Pope

Student Spotlight

Russell Pope, a senior from Hazel Green, AL, is a History major with a minor in Ancient & Medieval Studies. In addition, he is earning a certificate in Global Engagement with a focus in Arabic and German. 

Like many students, Russell started at UAH with aspirations to study in a STEM field and planned to pursue optometry after graduation. He says, “But I was always drawn to history, particularly like ancient eastern topics and settings, plus the history within the Bible.”  It was then he was recommended by Dr. David Kyle to change his plan of study to history, since he loved it so much. 

Russell has had many opportunities to explore his program of study, from archeology to digital archiving. By taking a cultural resource management class, he was able to experience the field of archaeology including locations, the cultural impact, and the legality. He hopes to continue to grow in the field of archeology. In History 485, a special topics course on Nazi Germany and the Holocaust, he got to dive into a digital archiving project that created an interactive map that tracked survivors before, during, and after the war. 

“It was just absolutely amazing. It was very interesting getting to dig into the personal history of some of these people and putting it all on the interactive timeline map. It brought a lot of things to life that I hadn't ever really considered before. It was a wonderful learning experience with Dr. Molly Johnson.” 

russell pope presentation

Russell Pope HY 485 Digital Archiving Presentation

Photo Credit Jenny Clifton

When Russell was asked about this favorite class at UAH, it was hard to narrow down. However, he is particularly fond and immersed in his History 490 course that allows students to conduct original research. 

“You get to hone in on a topic that you're really interested and that you might not be able to write about in other classes. Research can be a little intimidating, but it’s been really fun and Dr. Johnson is very encouraging. My classmates have been encouraging too and we give each other feedback. I am researching and examining 1 Kings, Chapter 8 and the dedication of Solomon’s Temple.  Solomon gives this big dedicatory speech, but there's a lot of debate among scholars as to when this was really written. I'm arguing in my paper that maybe a small core piece of it goes back to the time of Solomon, but this text was later expanded upon and edited by later authors in order to build upon the original ideas and then make the text more relevant for their generation.”

In addition to active classes and research projects, Russell was able to take his love of history abroad. He was able to locate a study abroad opportunity by attending a UAH Study Abroad Fair in the Charger Union. 

“I love biblical history and Jewish history, and I really wanted to go to Israel.” However, getting to study in Israel is logistically tough to navigate. He got help and support from Dr. David Johnson of the Global Studies program. Russell was able to study abroad for an academic year in 2017 at The University of Haifa in Mount Carmel. 

It was a life changing experience studying abroad.

Russell Pope
Senior History Major

Russell describes that outside the classroom, there were many opportunities to explore historical sites. They went to Jerusalem and Golan Heights and even got to camp out a few nights in the desert. 

“There's a lot of beautiful places to hike there and the University did everything to help engage you with the local culture and to make sure that you felt comfortable there and that you were acclimating into this whole new environment. I was just so drawn to being there in Israel...you're just surrounded by all of this archeology and history.  You just throw a rock and wherever it lands something happened there.”

Getting to study history in a tight-knit community has allowed Russell to get to interact on a personal level with all of his faculty members. Russell describes that one week, Dr. Andrei Gandila, spent time with him pouring over books to help decide what language would be best to study for his biblical and archeological studies goals. 

“Whenever you have this time with your teachers it makes you feel like you matter, your voice is important, and that your learning experience matters.” 

Russell Pope is set to graduate in the Spring of 2021. He hopes to continue to study history in a graduate program. He would like to become a professor in the future.  

“I would just have a blast being able to talk about history with students and help broaden people's horizons. I would help them see things maybe they hadn't seen before; helping them consider new things and introduce people to new ideas.”

For more information on our Department of History, please contact history@uah.edu