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Where are you currently located, and what are you up to?

I am currently living in Florence, Italy, where I moved for graduate school in the summer of 2011. I work at the University of New Haven's branch campus in Prato, 20 minutes from Florence, as a Student Affairs Coordinator. We're a small but dedicated team, which makes the work environment very rewarding. Though I do not currently work in my chosen field, museums/cultural heritage, my boss has given me plenty of opportunities to double as a TA of sorts for the history-based courses he teaches, which has kept me in continual contact with the subject. My plan is to move towards the cultural heritage field by next year, when my partner will receive his judgeship placement and I can know where to send those resumes! I will be searching for positions in museum development or with companies that cater to museums, like the cultural marketing agency I recently completed an internship for.


How did you become interested in history?

It happened on my senior skip day when I was in high school. I was sitting at home flipping through channels when I stopped on a Leonardo da Vinci documentary on the History Channel. I'll never know why, but I instantly became engrossed in the film, with its dramatic interpretation of Renaissance life and art. It was that day that I decided I would arrive at Fredonia in the Fall and immediately change my major from Business to History, then add a double major in Art History. It seemed like a richer, more interesting time and I wanted to know everything I could about it. A few months later, my mother took me to Paris, where walking down the European streets, seeing things that had been there since Medieval and Renaissance times, knowing that more than 1000 years worth of people had walked the same places I had and seen the same things I did, my belief that history was the most fascinating subject I could study strengthened tenfold. The day after I got home, I went to Freshmen Orientation, and changed my major as soon as they broke us down for the academic sessions, unable to wait until the Fall.
How did Fredonia’s Department of History prepare you for your current work/future plans?

The History Department gave me an invaluable overview of everything I wanted to study. My focus was European history, particularly the Medieval and Renaissance eras, and since I planned to move to Europe after I graduated, the subjects I learned about in my courses prepared me well for the things I knew I would be encountering here. I believe that when one really understands what they see, they respect it much more. Without the proper background I gained at Fredonia, much of what I've seen in Europe may have turned out to be a waste of my time and I would have done an injustice to the sites themselves.

In particular, my study abroad in France with Dr. John Arnold and Dr. Mary Beth Sievens in 2010 gave me a fairly solid direction and influenced a lot of what I studied in the years to follow. The professors organized an unparalleled trip around Paris and Normandy for two weeks, offering an intensive overview of the Middle Ages and introducing us to Gothic cathedrals by framing it in their Medieval context and expertly describing the impact they had on their original societies and all those that followed. The trip reinforced my interest in Medieval history, but it also sparked a new interest in cathedral history and the Gothic revival. I had already been considering going to graduate school for Museum Studies, so when I considered the ways I could channel these interests into possible careers, I decided that working in a history museum--especially one in Europe--was a great way to go.

Dr. Arnold and Dr. Sievens are two fantastic examples of the support I received within the Department of History, as both encouraged yet constructively challenged my goals, giving me a clearer sense of direction. I found this with many of the other professors as well. Any contact I've had with them since my time at Fredonia came to an end has never been anything short of a continued education. In this way, it almost feels as if I shouldn't say that they did prepare me for my future, but rather they are preparing me for it.


What advice do you have for incoming freshmen to our program?
Don't take for granted the range of classes the Department of History offers. While at Fredonia, I took almost entirely Medieval, Renaissance, and Religious history courses, rarely taking upper-levels in Asian, African, U.S., and/or Contemporary subjects. But now that I have traveled around Europe on and off for almost three years straight, I've begun to develop interests in other types of history, such as the Cold War, the Iron Curtain, and resistance movements under Communist regimes. Currently, I am trying to decide between exploring these new found interests on a professional level or sticking to the subjects I've dedicated the last seven years to. The Dept. of History offers a range of courses for a reason--don't let a current interest keep you from discovering new ones. Take advantage of everything the professors have to teach you and don't be afraid to switch things up if you find something new to like.
Also, remember. Knowledge is nothing without retention. They say this a lot in the department.

History Department

  • E332 Thompson Hall State University of New York at Fredonia Fredonia, NY 14063

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