Anna Low – History


Katie Fox, Contributing Writer

When Anna Low began as a first-year at Wake Forest, she was confident that she wanted to be a teacher. The Charlotte, N.C. native initially thought that her strong mathematical skills would make her a good high school math teacher, but when her registration plans fell through during the second semester of freshman year, she ended up in a 300-level History class on Maoist China with Dr. Qiong Zhang that changed the course of her college career.

Before coming to Wake Forest, Low had never known history to be a particularly relevant subject, but as she started to explore the department, she fell in love with the narrow scope of each course and she was excited to learn about the more recent chapters in history. Some of Low’s favorite classes have been with Dr. Jake Ruddiman, including a course in the graduate school she took this spring. Low is highly regarded by Dr. Ruddiman.

“Anna Low is an amazing student to teach,” he said. “I’ve been delighted to get the chance to work with her over the past several years. She’s a deeply thoughtful person and a brilliantly creative researcher and writer — she draws strikingly original connections and conclusions from messy evidence.  I’ve been so glad that we’ve gotten to work with her in the History Department.”

Low will graduate with Honors in History, and wrote her thesis on enslaved women on college campuses in the mid-19th century, inspired by Wake Forest’s own Slavery, Race and Memory Project. She discussed her rigorous research process which involved archival work at the University of North Carolina, the University of Virginia, the University of Alabama and Wake Forest University.  She dealt primarily with handwritten documents in her oft-neglected focus of study, and sought to disrupt the popular narrative that enslavement was confined to plantations in the Deep South. Her work revealed universities to be sites of destruction and oppression rather than of scholarship, enlightenment and liberalism.

Dr. Simone Caron, her thesis advisor, praised Low for her Honors research, writing, “[Anna’s] analysis of the intersection of race, gender and powerlessness is exceptional. She has given these women, who are often silenced in historical accounts, the attention they have deserved all along.”

At the History Department’s end-of-year celebration on Tuesday, Low was awarded both the W.J. Cash Award for Studies in Southern History and the Forrest W. Clonts Award for Excellence in History for her outstanding paper.

Outside of history, Low also studied abroad during the summer of 2019 at the Worrell House in London with Dr. Adam Friedman where she compared British and American education systems, examined international education policy and had the opportunity to enjoy the rich history of Europe.

“Anna did an absolutely wonderful job in my study abroad class,” wrote Dr. Friedman.  “Not only were her reflections, comments and final paper outstanding, but her interaction with English children was phenomenal.”

Low served as a research assistant to Dr. Scott Baker for his manuscript on recentering integration within education policy using North Carolina as a case study. Her honors research skills were put to use as she looked at newspaper archives from the 1970s through the early 2000s. Low also edited portions of Dr. Baker’s work.

On campus, she was also involved in the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority as a New Member Educator and Public Relations Representative, served as the Vice President of Intellectual Growth on the Panhellenic Council and she worked as a Resident Advisor for two years.

While she takes pride in her own accomplishments, Low is also proud to represent her department as she believes history is uniquely positioned as a powerful tool to keep an account of the past and inform the present and future. In her view, historians have the potential to play a more prevalent role in politics, especially by informing decisions in education. Low hopes she can work to make a difference in changing how history is taught, moving beyond the set of facts, dates and names to the valuable stories and takeaways.

Low will be pursuing her Master’s in Education Policy and Analysis at Harvard Graduate School of Education after graduation and plans to continue to prioritize both History and Education.