As a Senior History Major and member of the United States Army, Stefan Kassza couples his scholarly knowledge with first-hand experience of today’s world and how history has impacted it. Stefan was born and raised in Mannheim, Germany and moved to the United States in 1991, joining the US Army in 1996 and serving tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan. To date, Stefan is recipient of the US Army’s Sergeant Audie Murphy Award as well as the National Infantry Association’s Order of Saint Maurice. We caught up with Stefan to find out what being a History major has meant to him, how he spends his time outside of school and the military, and his promising plans for the future!...
What made USC your college of choice?
Only two schools of higher learning that support the US Army tuition assistance program have a History [program], and USC was one of them, and since I decided to retire here in beautiful Columbia, S.C., that made my choice easy.
Why did you choose to pursue History at USC?
History has always been my passion, and as I said in the previous answer, when I found out that USC was a part of the US Army tuition assistance program, it became my only choice, and one I’ve been proud of ever since.
What has been your favorite History course thus far?
I joined USC so I could get back inside a classroom and have actual, face-to-face discussions. Ironically, it turned out to be HIST 201, America’s Founding Documents, an online course and the very first course I took at USC, that is my favorite to this day because of the overall impact it had on me and [Professor Woody Holton’s] enthusiasm for the material he taught.
What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned as a History major? How has it changed your life?
I love History because through the study of History we learn about our fellow human beings who came before us, and by evaluating what they did, how they went about it, what worked, and what didn’t, we can learn to be better people ourselves.
How do you spend your time outside of the History Department?
I spend as much time as I can with my family; my wife and best friend, Eileen, my three children, and my grandson. They keep me centered, they are my support base, and they are always, and always will be, what keeps me going. Additionally, I like reading, and I play the guitar.
What are your plans for the future?
Finish my History degree, get a Master’s in Education, teach in the public school system, and continue my History Studies here at USC.
I don’t have a favorite book. I just like to read. I read mostly biographies and non-fiction. I just finished reading a book called Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth by Reza Aslan, and before that, I read Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher-Stowe.
I try to live by “The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good,” attributed to both Samuel Johnson and Ann Landers.
Tell us a little more about yourself!:
I was born and raised in and near Mannheim, Germany, came to the United States with my parents in 1991, and joined the US Army in 1996. I deployed to Iraq in 2004 and to Afghanistan in 2012 and hope to retire from the US Army in the next two years. I am a member of the ACLU, have been awarded the Sergeant Audie Murphy Award from the US Army and the Order of Saint Maurice from the National Infantry Association. I like to, when time permits, volunteer at the Transitions Center and with Veterans’ Organizations.