Alumni National Awards

J. William and Mary Diederich College of Communication
Award Recipients

Professional Achievement Award

Heather SturDr. Heather M. Stur, Comm ’98, Grad ’03
Hattiesburg, Miss.

As the General Buford “Buff” Blount Professor of Military History at the University of Southern Mississippi, Heather draws on her undergraduate studies in journalism and history to provide historical context for contemporary diplomatic and military issues. Among other accolades, her work earned her a Fulbright scholarship in 2013 to teach international relations in Vietnam.

For one whose expertise includes U.S. foreign relations, along with gender and war, and post-1945 America, a visiting professorship at the University of Social Sciences and Humanities in Ho Chi Minh City was an especially rewarding experience that allowed Heather to enhance her understanding of Vietnam’s impact on U.S. foreign relations and culture.

Since returning to the University of Southern Mississippi, where she is a tenured associate professor, Heather has co-edited the 2017 anthology Integrating the U.S. Military: Race, Gender and Sexuality Since World War II. She continues to direct the university’s summer study abroad program in Vietnam.

The author of 2011’s Beyond Combat: Women and Gender in the Vietnam War Era and a significant contributor to 2017’s New York Times "Vietnam '67" series, Heather is currently completing the book Saigon at War: South Vietnam and the Global Sixties, to be published by Cambridge University Press in late 2018. The book examines South Vietnam’s political scene and the perspectives of its activists including students, Catholic priests, journalists, diplomats, and politicians.

Heather says she was inspired to pursue her chosen career by her history professors Drs. Steven Avella and Phillip Naylor, Grad ’72, ’80. “I wanted to be them!” she says. “They made me understand that studying history can entirely transform a person’s view of the world.”

Heather is currently training for her sixth marathon, her second to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Last year she raised $3,000 in honor of her husband, Jay Van Orsdol, who was diagnosed six years ago with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma.

Fun facts: Heather chose blue and yellow flowers for her wedding as a nod to Marquette University.

Heather persuaded her younger siblings Erica Stur Burg, Nurs ’00, Grad ’04, and Jeff Stur, Comm ’02, to attend Marquette.