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History Peeps: Raymond Mitchell, Graduate Student

Life is unpredictable. Its path twists and weaves. Sometimes it challenges us to abandon our comfortable routines and calls us to venture into the murky unknown. Although many ignore the invitation, a brave few accept it. In 2014, during Raymond Mitchell’s most profitable—and, arguably, his most outwardly successful—year as an oil and gas attorney in Katy, Texas, his quiet discontent hardened into a firm resolve. At that moment, Raymond realized, “I want to get out of this.” A self-confessed, risk-averse, micromanaging planner, Raymond hatched a plan to upend his life and pursue his true passion—studying history.

In 2018, after practicing law for twenty-five years, Raymond began a new journey to further his education. He earned a master’s in history at Sam Houston State University and in 2020 started the Ph.D. program at Texas A&M. With a grin, Raymond says, “I’m happy as a clam right now.” Joy has become his default. Every morning Raymond wakes up and thinks, “this is where I want to be.”

Raymond hopes to teach history at the university level. As a graduate teaching assistant, Raymond encourages undergraduates to use historical inquiry to illuminate the vast interconnections that exist between the past, present, and future. He notes, “Everything in history is affected by everything that came before it, and it affects everything that comes after it.” Raymond wants students to grasp the totality of history, including its nuance and complexity.

To what historical figure would Raymond Mitchell like to say “Howdy,” given a chance?  He finds Civil War General Stonewall Jackson “a really fascinating [and] bizarre individual,” and he would love to ask about Jackson’s war strategy. But more than that, Raymond would like to understand how such a pious man—Jackson routinely cited scripture and refused to fight on Sundays—could justify slavery.

Jennifer Wells ’24