What is your current job?
Executive Director of the Southern Appalachian Historical Association
How did you find this position?
When in graduate school in Boone, North Carolina, I was looking for a summer job in the field. At Flagler, I was fortunate to always to find jobs in the public history field, and was determined to find a job like that in Boone. I applied for a secretary position with the Southern Appalachian Historical Association and was told by our board chair that I was way to qualified to just be a secretary and that I should work myself into a job. After a year of taking on all of the institutions responsibilities I made a bid to take over as the Executive Director and the board unanimously appointed me to the position.
What was your major/s and minor/s at Flagler?
Major: Public History
Did you go to graduate school? If so, what did you study?
Master of Arts in Public History at Appalachian State University
Which classes do you think most helped you decide your career and/or help you attain your career goals?
Dr. Enright’s Museum Studies class started my interest in working as a public historian. I submitted materials I created in our Public History Practicum course in my graduate school application and the admissions board was blown away by it. If you want to go to grad school for Public History it’s important to have good examples of your writing, and in particular labels. Dr. Enright’s Practicum and Museum Studies courses set me up for success.
What was the single most important thing you did as an undergrad to prepare you for your current position/career?
The single most important thing I did in undergrad to prepare me for my job career was to explore everything I was interested in. I took classes in political science, history, and theatre. I knew that I was never going to be an actor, but it was one of my passions so I would take a class a semester as a break from the papers and reading that were common in history classes. I had no clue that this would ever benefit me in the future, but I landed a job with the Southern Appalachian Historical Association that both runs a museum and produces a broadway quality theatrical production. The beauty of a Liberal Arts education is that you come out with more perspectives than just being limited to one discipline.
Where would you like to go from here?
Ultimately I would like to get my doctorate so that I can teach public history at the collegiate level and provide consultation services to small museums and historic sites.
Advice to current students?
You’re living in St. Augustine, the capital of historic tourism. Find a job working in the field and try to work or intern for as many history-based companies as you can in town. This is the best way to find out what kind of place you would like to work at. For instance working at a small historic site is very different than being in a big museum. Working for the National Park Service is also vastly different from being in an archive. You’re in the perfect place to try out all different kinds of workplaces within walking distance of campus. Once you’ve found out what type of place you enjoy working at, it’s much easier to decide what job you’d like do.