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MSU Profiles

Alum wins prestigious national fellowship

Bob Schwartz started his college career with the goal of teaching history. Not only did Schwartz land a job offer as a high school history teacher before he graduated, but he was awarded the James Madison Fellowship.  

“I was elated to win a national fellowship like that,” said Schwartz who graduated from Minot State in 2016 with a bachelor’s of science degree in history education.

The James Madison Fellowship is a prestigious national honor that typically chooses one applicant from each state. Schwartz was one of 53 fellows for 2016. The fellowship allows Schwartz to earn a master’s degree in American history and government while teaching fulltime as a history instructor. Schwartz takes online classes in his spare time and attends classes at Ashland University during the summer. Schwartz will spend next summer taking classes in Washington D.C. on the Georgetown University campus.

Schwartz has always been interested in heroes of American history, most notably Theodore Roosevelt. Schwartz shares a few commonalities with the historic president—a profound patriotism, military service, a handle-bar mustache, and both were natives of New York who ventured to the vast plains of North Dakota.

“I’m a believer in heroes,” said Schwartz. “These historical figures serve as inspiration to make goals and to achieve them.”

Taking a page from the stories of many historical heroes, Schwartz enlisted in the Air Force after graduating from high school in his hometown of Hornell, New York. He served 14 years as a security policeman in the Air Force including deployments to Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, and Iraq.

The Air Force taught Schwartz organization and discipline, but also cultivated his interest in teaching.

“As a non-commissioned officer in the military one of my peak responsibilities was to teach young airmen the skills, and provide them the knowledge they would need to survive in a combat zone to properly accomplish their missions,” said Schwartz.

After an honorable discharge from the Air Force, Schwartz decided to utilize the GI Bill and attend college. It didn't take long for Schwartz to decide on his major.

“I’m a huge history geek,” confessed Schwartz.

A love of history and an inclination toward teaching led Schwartz to Minot where he had previously been stationed while still in the Air Force. His return to the Magic City would not be as an airmen, but as a student at Minot State University.

MSU’s standing as a historic teaching college along with its small campus feel proved to be the winning combination for the aspiring history teacher.

Schwartz wasted no time taking advantage of the educational opportunity before him. His focused approach quickly caught the attention of his professors.

“He hit the ground running,” said Bethany Andreasen who oversaw Schwartz’s time as a student teacher. “He was pretty proficient from the beginning.”

 Much of Schwartz’s approach as student and teacher is built around respect.

“As soon as people realize that you respect them, then they’re willing to go further than they think they can,” said Schwartz.

Schwartz teamed up with political science professor Jynette Larshus to create Democracy Café, a non-partisan community forum where subject matter experts engage with the Minot community on a variety of social issues. Larshus also had Schwartz as a student.

“There was a degree of lightheartedness and fun that he could bring to class time,” said Larshus. “He may not agree with your point of view, but he always respects you so there’s an approachability.”

Schwartz is currently a history teacher for Des Lacs High School and plans to complete his master’s degree in 2019.

For someone who knows a lot about heroes, Schwartz has put his knowledge to good use. His dedication to teaching and continual success in his field serve as a shining example for the students he desires to impact.