The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

The Student News Site of Sacramento City College

The Express

Back to the History Class

City College History professor Carl Petter Sjovold explains the Civil War to his U.S. History class. Photo by || Kimberly Washington || [email protected]

In a small, unassuming office with stacks of CDs on the windowsill sits the Doc Marten bootwearing Dr. Carl-Petter Sjovold, City College History department chair.

He is immediately friendly despite the relatively early hour, although Monday through Thursday his first class begins at 7:30 a.m. Rodda Hall South is quiet at this time of morning, save for the occasional grumblings of students schlepping by Sjovold’s office on their way to or from class.

Sjovold’s iceberg-blue eyes shine like prisms when he speaks of his students. Teaching both U.S. and world history, the good doctor encounters many a learner.

“I meet new people every semester,” he says. “They all have a story.”

Apparently, so does he.

Sjovold has a varied résumé. He once had a part-time job digging ditches. He says, “It was fun for awhile, but that kind of life has its limits.”

He once worked in the advertising department of the Oakland Tribune as a production assistant and was employed
at a cannery in Alaska. Sjovold got back to California on a Schwinn High Sierra bicycle. Literally.

Sjovold and three of his friends encountered bad weather along the way from Alaska to California, often sleeping
on the side of the road. Sometimes they were fortunate enough to meet kind people willing to help them out.
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The journey took nine weeks.

Describing this trip as a “rite of passage,” Sjovold learned that if one can undertake something so adventurous while enduring rain, cold, hunger and fatigue, one’s educational road will look
easy in comparison.

Sjovold grew up in Santa Barbara and attended Santa Barbara City College.
Originally planning to pursue a career in journalism, he explains that one professor in particular made a “positive impression.” He describes his time at Santa Barbara City College as “formative”—the inspiration and catalyst for what would become his teaching career.

Sjovold, now in his 40s with a wife and two children, says, “Fundamentally, I am no different from my students.”

Sjovold received his bachelor’s degree from UC Berkeley (where there wasn’t a journalism program, so he switched to history), and later received his master’s degree from UC Davis. By 1999, he had earned a Ph.D., also from Davis.

When asked what advice he has for students who haven’t quite hit their educational stride, he simply says, “Keep
an open mind and have confidence in yourself.”

Most of his days begin very early and are quite full, but Sjovold maintains a positive outlook.

“I am never bored,” he says, “I find my life interesting and challenging.”

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