Kyra Sanchez Clapper, PhD (’13)
“One of my favorite off-campus activities was the hiking trip to the Meeman-Shelby Forest State Park with the other students taking the Introduction to Sustainability course. I was always interested in environmental causes, and to be able to enjoy that with students from different departments was great. We shared our ideas of what it means to be eco-conscious and how we intended to pursue our goals in our field(s) of study. Plus, we could explore parts of Memphis that some students might not have heard about otherwise.”
As a History major at CBU, Kyra Sanchez Clapper was active in the Honors Program, Phi Alpha Theta History Honor Society (of which she served as President from 2011 to 2013), and the Sigma Tau Delta English Honor Society. She graduated summa cum laude in 2013 — with minors in French, Global Studies, and Sustainability Studies — and was recognized as an Honors Diploma Recipient, along with the Outstanding Phi Alpha Theta Student Award and a Presidential Recognition Award. She also met her future husband, Michael Mansour (MIS ‘12), at CBU in 2009.
After graduation, Kyra took French courses at L’Université Catholique de Lille in France. She enrolled in graduate studies at the University of Memphis, where she earned both her MA in History and her MA in French Literature & Language in 2015. While studying for her master’s degrees, she served as the UofM’s Graduate President of Phi Alpha Theta and as President of the Graduate History Association. She also worked as Coordinator of the CBU Language Lab while she pursued her PhD in Modern European History at the UofM and taught as a Graduate Assistant. She received her PhD in 2021, writing her dissertation on “Les Jardins Exotiques: Early French Romanticism and Its Impact on Travel Inspired Nineteenth-Century French Gardens,” which combined her backgrounds in French literature and history in order to delve into the question of revolutionary France’s ever-evolving gardening history and how the obsession of botany and the exotic brought about the rise of travel-inspired gardens from the 19th century forward. During her doctoral studies, Kyra was the recipient of the Freeburg Dissertation Fellowship and Dr. William and Helen Lucile Gillaspie Scholarship.
Also, during her graduate studies, Kyra served as a translator for the CBU Spring Break Study Abroad trip to Paris in 2016. She and Michael were married at Holy Rosary Catholic Church in 2016, and in 2017, she gave birth to their son. He was aptly named François (after François René de Chateaubriand, the central figure of her PhD dissertation).
Kyra has served as an Adjunct Instructor of History at the University of Tennessee at Martin since 2020 and as a Dual Enrollment Grader for OnRamps at the University of Texas at Austin since 2021. In January 2022, she also took a position as an Upper School French and AP World History Teacher at St. Agnes Academy in Memphis.
Outside of her studies and academic career, Kyra has served her community as a Fellow at Memphis Tilth, a volunteer at Temple Israel, an Associate Board Member at Memphis Heritage, a Community Coordinator of the CBU Sustainability Coalition, and a Volunteer Archivist at the Memphis Public Library, translating French texts into English.
My professors always encouraged interdisciplinary learning. Being afforded the opportunity to minor in three different fields helped shape my undergraduate seminar paper, my history MA thesis, and, later, my PhD dissertation. Catholicism, much like the adjective catholic with the lowercase ‘c,’ means to be all-embracing. I believe that my faith, as well as my research, truly embody what it means to be Catholic.