Jonathan Lautaha

NHD 2004-2008

Where do you currently live?
Durham, NC

What is your current occupation?
Business and Technology Consultant

What school did you attend while participating in NHD?
Kahuku High School, Kahuku, Hawaii

What college did you attend?
BA History from Stanford University

Who were your teachers?
Poppy Vaioleti, Linda Kay Smith, Lisa Lessing, Lori Ishihara

What years and in what category did you participate in NHD?
2004 – 2006: Exhibit
2007: Group Documentary
2008: Individual Documentary

What are a few of your favorite or defining moments from your NHD experience?
When my topic was the Greensboro Sit-ins, I interviewed one of the original Greensboro Four. When my topic was the U.S. dropping of the atom bombs in Japan, I interviewed a Japanese man that lived through that time. These interviews had the greatest impact on me because it helped me realize that my research wasn’t simply an intellectual exercise, but that real people lived through these ordeals, and that it is every citizen’s responsibility to use our learning from history to affect our present world for the better.

How did NHD help you after high school?
The History Day program helped me learn how to conduct research and how to form an opinion substantiated by reliable, historical evidence. The experience and academic rigor of History Day helped me gain acceptance to Stanford University, where I graduated with a BA in History with a concentration in U.S. Economic History. In the business technology world, where I now work, I continue to use the analytical skills I learned from NHD–knowing how to distinguish good from better sources of knowledge, challenging assumptions, and defending my business viewpoints with logic and evidence.

What recognition did you receive for participating in NHD?
I won 1st in my state from 2006 – 2008, and placed 9th at the National Contest in 2007 for my group’s documentary on the Battle of Stalingrad. At NHD in 2007, my group also won a special award for excellence in Military History.

Did you do anything with your NHD project or research after the contest year?
History Day not only helped me develop academic skills, but it gave me the confidence to tackle challenging assignments I would later have in school and work.

What has kept you busy since your days as an NHD student? Any particular challenges, stories, or achievements?
My employer has a policy where every year we’re allowed to take time off for a volunteer cause. For the past 2 years, I’ve used my volunteer time off to help our local History Day events and volunteer as a judge.