December 12, 2022

Declaring a degree in History, Portsmouth, Ohio native Josiah Burton chose to attend his hometown’s university. Graduating next spring from Shawnee State University, Burton is excited to be earning a degree centered on one of his biggest fascinations and interests.

Josiah Burton

“History feels like a story book that spans several tens of thousands of years with multiple different kinds of stories,” he said. “Each one filled with people that you grow to love, those you grow to hate, and big events that affect the whole situation these people are involved in. The biggest difference being that it all actually happened.”

Burton’s fascination with history comes from the lessons that can be learned by observing the past.

“Being someone who loves big stories in TV shows, movies, and especially video games, it gives learning about certain periods of history a new layer of interest to them,” he said. “To me it’s a handy traveler’s guide for how humanity got to where it is today and possibly where it can go moving forward.”

Within his major, Burton’s favorite part of his classes has been the chance to witness the attitudes and intentions of the professors while they teach their lessons.

“Their primary focus during their lessons is not just to make sure the students know what they need to know to complete the class work, it’s to get them interested in the history they’re teaching,” he says. “They all have genuine respect and interest for the subjects they’re teaching, and that is something that I have massive amounts of respect for.”

Outside of his regular classes, Burton has also been involved in a few of the productions that the SSU Musical Theatre program has put on in recent years. One of these would include last spring’s performance of Disaster.

“Being raised in a theater family, the Vern Riffe Center for the Arts has always felt like a second home to me,” he said.

After graduating with his degree, Burton is planning to continue his studies to earn his master’s degree and wants to focus on teaching history from the 20th century. To students considering pursuing a degree in history, he advises them to figure out what time period of history they have the most interest in.

“Of course, it’s important to have a wide range of historical knowledge but narrowing down your primary interests, I think, will help you in the long run,” he said. “This is important because figuring these things out will help you classify where your research in the historical record comes from and how you want to use your knowledge in the field.”

SSU’s History program provides a general understanding of the development of American, European, Asian, and Middle Eastern civilizations. Students in the program develop analytical capacities, research skills, and writing talents that lead to successful careers in law, education, journalism, government service, or the private sector.

To learn more about the History program at Shawnee State University, visit