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Richters you should know: Elizabeth Hozie and Ani Karagianis

Elizabeth Hozie ’20 and Ani Karagianis ’20 didn’t even know each other before being partnered on a Richter project with Assistant Professor of Music Anne Barry. Now, after two weeks of researching the history of the Irish in Chicago, they finish each other’s sentences.

Karagianis, a history and sociology and anthropology major, and Hozie, an environmental studies major, are Richter Scholars you should know.

Q: Tell us about your research project.

Karagianis: ”We are working with Professor Barry to research the Irish in Chicago. Essentially, Liz and I are helping Professor Barry put together a First-Year Studies Program class about the topic for this fall.”

Hozie: ”We are asking questions about early Irish immigrants in Chicago: why did they move to Chicago initially, what kind of lives did they live, how did they contribute to the growth of the city, and how has their culture left an imprint on Chicago lifestyle today? A lot of the research is coming out of two big crates of books. We’re going through each book, taking notes, and deciding on sections for students to read that are not too dense or boring.”

Karagianis: “We split up research on the various topics. I covered the circumstances in Ireland that compelled the Irish to come here. We had to split up the arts because it’s loaded: I did literature, a little bit of film, politics, and I took on the mob because politics and the mob are related.”

Hozie: I wanted to do a lot on the arts so I had music, theater, dance, and the actual fine art. I also cover occupations, as in what jobs the Irish did when they first came here. They obviously were not the most literate when it came to the English language, yet they were some of the most important people when it comes to the building and structuring of Chicago. And I have been researching the police force and the fireman’s force because the Irish were the main percentage of these forces and became the protectors of the city.”

Karagianis: “We’re also looking for primary sources. We hopped on the Chicago Tribune archives online. It’s kind of interesting to see articles from the newspaper at the time.”

Hozie: You can see the event from the eyes of people who actually lived during that time.”

Q: What is the most difficult part of your project?

Hozie: There is no ready-made textbook on the Irish in Chicago. It would be nice, but part of what we are trying to do when we are looking through these books is finding prospective chapters or sections of chapters that would give students a lot of information about the topic.”

Karagianis: “In reality, you could read everything and it would be important in some way. But what’s actually important enough to assign? The hardest part is boiling down this information into readings and making sure that what we pick is interesting to everyone.”

Hozie: “Not everyone wants to read about the Great Chicago Fire, and not everyone wants to hear about the sports teams.”

Karagianis: “But everyone wants to hear about the mob.”

Hozie: And everyone wants to hear about the Dr. Cronin murder. I guarantee it. It’s a fascinating story. Its not all boring—history can be interesting!”

Q: Have you done any research in Chicago?

Hozie: “We went to the Chicago History Museum to do some research there.”

Karagianis: “We were able to go through some pretty cool archives. It was so fun. We got the gloves and everything. It was like surgery.”

Hozie: We got to touch old documents, hold letters. We were trying to open up these super old books and it took forever to flip pages because we don’t want anything to break or rip.”

Karagianis: “I’m a geek for that kind of stuff, so I was excited. Of course, reading them was difficult.”

Hozie: That was the hard part. We would just sit there and stare at it and try to figure out the words.”

Karagianis: “Professor Barry was the best at deciphering the writing. Next, we are going to the Irish-American Heritage Center, which is the holy grail, the mecca of the information that we need.”

Hozie: And we’re meeting with Ellen Skerrett. We have at least three books written by her, and she comes up a lot in documentaries and books and articles. She’s doing research in Chicago right now, so we get to interview her. I’m super excited.”

Karagianis: “Like, we’re not worthy!”

Hozie: We’re not worthy!”

Q: Do you like working on the project with partner?

Karagianis: “Working with a partner is good. I didn’t even know Liz before this, but now it’s like ‘let’s talk about the mob.’”

Hozie: Let’s. talk. about. the. mob.”

Karagianis: “I also see benefits to the partner aspect because I know that if I had to tackle all this on my own, man, I could be working for a year.”

Hozie: It’s just an easier load. We read independently, but then our topics will overlay so I’ll talk about something I read and then Ani will say, ‘oh, yeah, that connects to this incident, or that date corresponds with something that happened in this church.’ So being able to have two people working simultaneously on this project is nice.”

Karagianis: “It’s good to have someone to bounce ideas off of, especially when we were discussing assignments. Both Liz and I drew on our own very different first-year studies classes, thinking about what we each liked, what we each would change, and combining our goals.”

Hozie: Our assignments were completely different, so we were able to look and see the benefits of both classes and then use that as a background for creating this class.”

Q: What is it like working with a professor?

Karagianis: ”It teaches me how to develop a relationship and a rapport with professors. This is useful for the future in working with adults in leadership positions, and I will benefit from learning how to effectively communicate with professors.”

Hozie: For me, it’s a great confidence builder because I’m not one to put myself out there often. You are working with someone who has so much experience learning and studying as well as teaching. They are masters of their craft.”

Karagianis: “Professor Barry is just great to be around. And it’s a learning curve for all three of us. Being from Ireland, she obviously knows more about the Irish than we do, but we are all on the same page in figuring out how to plan this course. We aren’t afraid to talk to her.”

Hozie: “We can literally talk to her about anything. We talked to her about Mulan this morning because she had never seen it!”

Karagianis: “There’s a comfort level, really. And it’s cool hearing about her growing up in Ireland and how they played dress-up and fairy stuff. It lets you know that some things that are transatlantic.”

Q: How will your experience in the Richter program help prepare you for your future career?

Hozie: “Just putting myself out there. I know I have the skills and the will, and, hopefully, I will be able to show others this as well. Putting together a presentation for Symposium will test and, hopefully, strengthen my public speaking skills and help me to feel more comfortable presenting larger projects to the public. I haven’t had to give a presentation that long before and being able to combine all I’ve learned and being comfortable enough to share it with the public is a good skill.”

Karagianis: “This will teach me how to effectively do research and how to work well with others, which is a good skill to have regardless of jobs. Personally, I would like to work in academia, so this is a good starting point in academic research.  I’d like to go to grad school for something, who knows what, so research is important, and I enjoy doing research that I’m genuinely interested in. I love history so this is right up my ally.”

Hozie: I’ve never really liked history class, but I like researching things. Because I do have some Irish heritage, it’s really interesting to look back at the Irish and see why they came over and what kind of impact they had, specifically in Chicago but also on America as a whole. Having the opportunity to research this topic is really awesome.”

–By Tracy Koenn and Sophie Mucciaccio