Alumni Spotlight: Debbie Galuska

Submitted by Nick Grall on

We recently caught up with UW History alumna Debbie Galuska (class of 1973). Debbie has been an ardent supporter of the department and history in general since her student days. She serves as the chair of the History Advisory Board and is an advocate for history education within the state.

What brought you to the UW and why did you choose to study history?
I entered the UW as a freshman in the fall of 1969 interested in languages and teaching.  My brother had received his PhD in history at the UW in the spring of ‘69, so I was familiar with the department. I took as many history classes as I could fit in my schedule, and by my sophomore year, I had declared myself a history major.  I graduated in 1973 with my B.A. in history, a minor in education, and with my secondary teaching credentials. I also met my husband in one of Professor Carol Thomas’s classes!

What can a person do with a history degree?
Anything you want! The critical thinking and writing skills honed in a history degree prepare that person not just for a job or career but for life.

What inspires you to give to UW History?
I have served for many years and now am chair of the department’s History Advisory Board (HAB). I see how hard our faculty and staff creatively work to make history class offerings appealing and relevant to all students, not just history majors. The department has had to shift and change in our STEM oriented world. I see the need for financial assistance for undergrads as well as graduate students who struggle to live in a very expensive city. It is very gratifying to see how financial donations make such a difference to students and programs in the department.

What other causes do you support through giving?
I also support UW Libraries, the Tyee Club, and Athletics. Outside of the university, I give to Western Washington University and The Evergreen State College. I support many public education causes and local arts groups, especially related to dance.

Do you think it is important for alumni to give back to their programs?
Alumni giving is so important! You can see the impact it makes on students, faculty and programs in the department. Giving back helps you keep that contact and connection with the university. Whether you contribute financially or spend time on campus supporting a specific program, it is very rewarding.

What are some ways that others can help promote history education?
History education is at a crossroads and under fire on many fronts. It is being challenged and under attack by different groups in our country. Read, get involved in what your local school districts are facing, VOTE, and look into what our state colleges and universities are doing to meet this challenge.

As someone who attends the History Lecture Series, would you share what keeps you coming back each year?
As we approach the 50th year of the HLS, I think back on all the incredible lecturers who have entertained, enthralled, and educated attendees all these years. Beginning with Professors Jon Bridgman and Giovanni Costigan back in the day, the series has remained popular and I continue to encourage family, friends, high school classes, and lovers of history to attend!

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