In a meeting with students in the University’s Sophomore Focus program, Jennifer Cote talked about her passion for history and the “unlikely path” of her career. She was funny, insightful, and engaging as she urged students to “do what you love in life.”
Cote is a living embodiment of her message: “I love teaching because I love talking about history. Being a professor was not something I ever thought I would be — I just followed my passion and here I am.” That’s what she wants for her students: “I want them to study what they are curious about, to not worry about what they need to do or be, but to follow up with what they love.” And it’s clear that Cote loves history.
When she’s not teaching or advising the College’s History Club, Cote focuses on research. She recently finished an article for American Catholic Studies about an order of nuns who operated a home for delinquent girls at Hartford’s House of the Good Shepard. She compared the narrative left by the Sisters with reports from The Hartford Courant and the lives of the girls. “I found quite a discrepancy between the three narratives, which tells us something about female juvenile delinquency in Hartford,” she said.
Much of her research follows that vein. Her next project looks at social work as a field dominated by women but originated for men. As her students graduate each year, she stays in touch to see where they go and what they do with their lives. “I hope they look back and see college as the place where they developed their curiosity and followed their passions. That’s what it takes to be a student of life.”
Ph.D., Boston College
B.A., Mount Holyoke College