Rebecca Yeomans-Stephenson named History Department’s Outstanding Senior for 2024

By: Patti McDonald  

Rebecca Yeomans-Stephenson, a history major with minors in museum studies and women’s and gender studies, has been named the 2024 Outstanding History Senior by the College of Social Science at Michigan State University. Yeomans-Stephenson has maintained a 4.0 GPA throughout her college career and is a member of the Social Science Scholars program at MSU. 

Yeomans-Stephenson credits her success at MSU to her mentors and professors, including Department of History Chair Dr. Michael Stamm, Associate Professor of History Dr. Thomas Summerhill, and Associate Professor of History Dr. John Waller. 

“I am quite honored,” Yeomans-Stephenson said. “I have a lot of mentors and professors who I’m very fond of and I believe that they had a role to play in me receiving this award. So, it really is a huge honor. I feel very seen within my field. A lot of people don’t recognize history as a very important or necessary career path and obviously, I disagree. I think history is very important. It is nice for someone to recognize that I am putting in the work and that I’m on the right path to becoming a successful historian.” 

Yeomans-Stephenson said that she’s wanted to be a historian ever since her freshman year of high school. She and her family went on a trip to Boston, and that’s when she was first inspired to major in history. 

“On that trip, I toured sites like where the Boston Massacre happened,” Yeomans-Stephenson said. “I was in awe of all the history there, and I told myself then that I would study history as a career.” 

Yeomans-Stephenson has had quite a college career and has made sure to take advantage of all opportunities that came her way. She’s been a member of the Spartan Marching Band Color Guard for five years, serving as section leader for two, and has worked at the University Archives and Historical Collections for the past three years. As an undergraduate student, Yeomans-Stephenson has published three papers, making her a published author, a remarkable accomplishment for an undergraduate student. 

Her paper “Revolutionary Consciousness and Hardening of British Loyalty in Pre-Revolutionary Boston” was published in the University of Alabama’s Crimson Historical Review last year. Furthermore, her papers “Security and Efficiency in Communication Intelligence: Examining Innovation in the Revolutionary and Civil War Eras” and “Almanacs and the Coexistence of Traditional and Enlightenment Thought” were both published through MSU earlier this year. 

“I think it’s important to look at opportunities you might not think will be valuable or interesting to you,” Yeomans-Stephenson said. “I know that I tend to box myself in and so what makes my mentors so great is that they push me outside my boundaries to help me explore new opportunities and keep an open mind. College is the time to try new things and push yourself.” 

Yeomans-Stephenson said her time at MSU is full of fond memories and while she is excited about the next chapter in her life, she is also sad to be leaving. Now, she has her eyes set on graduate school, and she will be attending Wayne State University to pursue a master’s degree in library and information science, specializing in archival administration. After that, she hopes to return to MSU to pursue her Ph.D. in American history. 

“I’ve wanted to go to MSU for as long as I can remember,” Yeomans-Stephenson said. “It’s a little sad that my time is coming to an end, but at the same time, I feel like I have been prepared so well for the next chapter of my life and I’m ready to tackle my master’s and then hopefully end up back here (MSU) for my Ph.D.” 

Rebecca Yeomans-Stephenson Photo by: Jacqueline Hawthorne