Catarina Terrill: a Woman of History

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For her capstone thesis, Catarina Terrill examined the role of women in the Ku Klux Klan during that group's 1920s revival. Post-graduation, she'll do a Russian journalism exchange.

Tacoma native Catarina Terrill wasn’t ready to leave home. “I love this city and I felt there was still more for me here, more for me to learn,” she said. Terrill attended Tacoma Community College [TCC] following graduation from Tacoma School of the Arts. She transferred to UW Tacoma in the fall of 2017.

History seems like a natural fit for someone with a strong attachment to place. “I had this professor at TCC and she really inspired me because she was so passionate about history and making sure the truth was being told,” said Terrill.

Terrill ultimately chose to major in U.S. history. Her scholarly focus is on the period from 1865 to 1930. “This was a very transitional time for the United States,” she said. “I also see a lot of parallels between the time we’re living in now and the 1920s.”

For her capstone thesis Terrill chose to focus on women in the Ku Klux Klan during the hate group’s revival in the 1920s. “I wanted to accurately represent the harm that white women from this era caused,” said Terrill. “Women in the Klan participated in of some of the most heinous and treacherous acts and I wanted to shine a light on that.” Terrill presented her work at the Undergraduate Research Symposium at the University of Washington Seattle in May.

Catarina Terrill's capstone thesis for her history degree from UW Tacoma examined the part white women played in the Ku Klux Klan revival of the 1920s. This photo, from 1925, is from the Library of Congress National Photo Company Collection (public domain).

Terrill plans to embark on a master’s degree in history. She’s drawn toward research but is also considering teaching. Terrill interned at Tacoma School of the Arts as a junior. “I helped teach a class about women in the Middle East, particularly Algeria and Tunisia,” she said. “As a person with a passion for history, I think teaching is a good way to pass that knowledge along to the next generation.”

On the other hand, she might become a journalist. For the past academic year, Terrill has worked as a student writer in UW Tacoma's Office of Advancement, authoring stories that are published on the campus's website. Her pieces have included a profile of Class of 2019 member Augustine Canales, a write-up about a campus book discussion group, and an essay on a campus men's group.

Following graduation, Terrill will participate in the Russian Intensive Program through UW. “My dad used to work at the American Embassy in Russia and still speaks the language,” said Terrill. This fall, Terrill is taking Associate Professor Chris Demaske’s exchange course. In the class, students from UW Tacoma work with students from Moscow State University to produce a magazine.

As for Tacoma, Terrill is almost ready to leave — almost “There’s just so much beauty here,” she said. “I draw a lot of inspiration from this community as well as from my friends and family.” The oldest of three sisters, Terrill knows the transition will be difficult. “I feel good about graduating,” she said. “I’m ready to move onto the next chapter.”

Return to 2019 Commencement: The Husky Family

Written by: 
Eric Wilson-Edge / June 13, 2019
Photos by: 
Ryan Moriarty
Media contact: 

John Burkhardt, UW Tacoma Communications, 253-692-4536 or