Rebecca Pyrah | Graduate & Postdoctoral Studies

Rebecca Pyrah

Portrait of graduate student Rebecca Pyrah (MA, History) in the atrium of MacDonald Stewart Hall at the University of Guelph  in the atrium of Mac Donald Stewart Hall at the University of Guelph

2018 MA History

Advice for Prospective Grad Students… 

Make sure you are sure of the program and the advisor because it is easy to get caught up in the idea of taking everything one after another, but academia is not a race. The more you marinate and think and explore the things you want to do, the more meaningful they will be when you actually do them.


2018 Graduate – History, MA

About My Advisor… 

I was a transfer student in my undergrad, so when I arrived at Guelph, I had a very defined track of classes I had to take to finish in two years. I had never had the privilege of taking a class with Professor Femi Kolapo, and I was nervous when I sent him an email to discuss the possibility of him being my advisor for my masters. I remember walking in, and all the thoughts running through my head of nervousness and fear that I would be rejected. All those things vanished the second I started talking to Dr. Kolapo. His kindness and sincerity were one of the things that drew me to want to have him as an advisor. That first meeting, we talked for over an hour about what it would mean to me to do an MA at Guelph, and have him as an advisor. I distinctively remember him telling me, even though he had only just met me, that he was looking forward to being my advisor because he knew I would do great things.

About Being a Grad Student at U of G… 

Being a graduate student at UofG has been my favourite experience in my academic career thus far. The professors, students and other faculty members are so open to creativity and working with ideas I have had and how they could work in relation to my final paper. I have told all my friends who are at other schools, that being a grad student, and especially at Guelph, is just a collection of people who are likeminded and interested in the same things you are, and its so easy to thrive in that environment.

What Makes U of G Unique?

All of the vegan food options!

About Future Goals...

I plan on continuing my academic career through college graduate programs, which has only been confirmed through my work at UofG because it has helped me to realize where I can take my field, and the many directions I can go.

How Will Your Research Improve Life?

My research explores the phenomenon of genocide in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in the Congo after the Scramble for Africa as it relates to King Leopold and Social Darwinism. This research explores a genocide that has not been explored in great depth in secondary literature as other genocides have, and it also looks at the actions of a king as social conditioning. This not only implores the reader to think critically about what they deem a genocide, but it also subjects them to analyze their own biases of past rulers in a context of "othering" them. This research challenges the reader to think about genocide in a different light, whilst exploring the impact of Social Darwinism in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, which in turn relates to present day social conditioning and the impacts it has on political leaders and people in power.