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Department of History

History Alumni Profiles

"Louis-Philippe Opening the Galerie des Batailles, 10 June 1837." François Joseph Heim, 1837.

"Louis-Philippe Opening the Galerie des Batailles, 10 June 1837."  François Joseph Heim, 1837.

History department alumni reflect on life after Towson University and why they value their degree in history.

 

 

Nichole Wright, Class of 2010Nichole Wright, M.S. 2010

Nichole Wright graduated from Towson University with a Master of Science in Social Science in 2010. She now teaches literature at Edmondson Westside High School in Baltimore.. 

What aspects of your TU education do you find yourself using most?

Research and time management. I had written research papers prior to the Masters program, but I never had to generate my own essential question or be innovative and find something to write that no one had already said, like I had to do for my thesis. Not surprisingly, I'm doing it again for the PhD in Education program at George Mason University. Also, balancing work and the Masters program was proof to myself that I could go be successful while doing both. Actually, it was part of the reason why I chose to go ahead and apply for PhD programs.

 

What particularly surprised you most about life after college?

Most people have no clue what I'm talking about. Lots of people will inquire about what you received your Masters degree in, and sometimes they even express interest in your thesis. But the minute, you actually start to explain what you wrote about, or committed your time in the program to researching, they are completely thrown for a loop.

I've also learned that once you've begun a doctoral program, you don't have to try hard to impress people. You have a degree--that speaks volumes! What I mean is, you don't have to constantly use big words and demonstrate how much more you know than people. It's obviously that you are as smart as the next person, because you were admitted.

What advice do you wish that you had been offered when you first came to Towson? As a rising senior? And when you came out of college?

Find someone to latch onto early. As a product of the MSSOSC program, I had an advisor, but my advisor did not have a background in what I was interested in researching and writing my thesis on. Fortunately, I took classes with professors who were willing to work with me, and even serve on my thesis committee. I also wish that I had been a little more knowledgeable about the consortium that Towson is a part of. There were some pretty interesting classes being offered at other colleges that I could have taken advantage of, but did not know the option existed until too late.

What skills do employers in your field particularly value?

Experience! They want people who seem to have done more than just read books and write papers. If you're looking to do anything other than research, you need experience in the field. I currently am teaching, and intend to teach in the future, but it's the same thing. I have looked at the criteria for prospective employers abroad quite frequently, and they always inquire about your experience in the fields where you express interest.

What can TU history students do to gain those skills or highlight them in their resumes?

Volunteer, take advantage of internships or assistantships, get published! Those were all things that I did not do during my enrollment at Towson. I can't say that I regret it, but I definitely think it would have made my resume far more attractive.

Nichole Wright, M.S. 2010

How did your history degree help you?

I teach high school literature. Although one would not think that the two fields are connected, they are. My history degree, and thus my interest in different time periods and places, has actually helped interest my students in the texts that we are reading. In addition to helping them build background knowledge on their own, and make cultural connections, I often present them with an overview of events that were taking place at the time a novel was written. They have a new found appreciation for current events and past events like the plague, that they once disregarded.

My degree has also helped prepare for my most recent venture - -a PhD in International Education. I am now attempting to marry my bachelors and masters degree, and the bulk of the work that I did at the Masters degree was researching the history and events in the Caribbean. I definitely feel like this was a necessary move, because it would be very difficult to teach to a population of people who I don't understand, and whose past I have no knowledge of.

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Bryce Williams-Tuggle, Class of 2007

Bryce Williams-Tuggle graduated from Towson University with a Major in History in 2007. He now works at the Foothills Brewing Company in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

What aspects of your TU education do you find yourself using most?

Though it was not a part of my education in the classical sense, one of the most important skills I learned during my time at Towson was time management. Juggling a full course load and two jobs while trying to perform my best at both was trying at times, so time management was critical. Out of necessity I learned to devote the requisite amount of time and effort to excel in my education and work before pursuing non-related interests. This has helped me immensely since graduating. The discipline I learned at Towson helps me to accomplish all of the many tasks of being a productive professional.

What particularly surprised you most about life after college?

The most surprising aspect of life after college is definitely its open-endedness. There is no structure or guide to life. After graduation, it can be overwhelming to realize that there is no one there to tell you what to do, and you have to make your own way in the world. At first this newfound freedom seems daunting and it is difficult to decipher the next step. But the important thing is to keep moving forward and pursuing your passions in life. You cannot reasonably expect to understand your life’s story so early on. You just have to keep on living it and be prepared and open for whatever comes next.

What advice do you wish that you had been offered when you first came to Towson?

I wish that someone would have encouraged me to explore all that college has to offer. Academics should always come first, but there is so much more to the college experience. Take part in campus groups such as the college political societies, go see guest speakers, take part in rec sports, explore the history of where you are, volunteer for local organizations, study abroad, and so forth. College presents a unique opportunity to experience so much in so little time. Take in as much of it as you can.

What advice do you wish that you had been offered when you were a rising senior?

It is time to seriously consider your next step. For many students, this is deciding whether or not you are ready for graduate study or not. If you are not ready, how will you continue to further your education by other means? What do you want to do in life? How do you think you might be able to achieve your goals? Now is the time to think about these things and perhaps reach out to professors in your department for advice. They have asked themselves these same questions and found their own answers, and might be able to counsel you during your transition to becoming a college graduate.

What advice do you wish that you had been offered when you came out of college?

Do not despair if you do not immediately know what you want to do with the rest of your life. Life is short and it is important to make the most of it, but this applies to more than finding a career. Try new things and travel as much as you can to help you find your way. Without experiencing the world around you, how can you possibly know your place in it?

What skills do employers in your field particularly value?

I work at a brewery where I do everything from brewing the beer to packaging the final product. My responsibilities are often many, and efficiently multi-tasking is crucial. The art of brewing requires a great deal of patience, attention to detail, and ingenuity. To exemplify these characteristics is highly desirable because it is what sets you as an employee and your company as a whole apart from all others.

What can TU history students do to gain those skills or highlight them in their resumes?

As a history student, these skills are likely already present. To be proficient in a history major, students have to manage their course selections, do a great amount of research, think independently and abstractly, and learn from others. A successful TU history student needs only to distill the principles they have learned through academic discipline, and apply them professionally. To highlight this in a resume, point out any outstanding academic achievements, honors and/or awards received to show employers you have the skill set necessary to accomplish goals and flourish.

How did your history degree help you?

Part of studying history is chronicling and understanding peoples and societies. Just as all societies have a shared past and it is paramount to understand it before passing judgment on their present state, individuals have their own history that shapes them. Professionally, understanding that everyone is a product of their respective environments has helped me to develop better working relationships with those around me and to properly assess situations before reacting. This pragmatism is a direct product of my study of history and has greatly helped me professionally.

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Lauren Scally, Class of 2009Lauren Scally, Class of 2009

Lauren Scally graduated from Towson University in 2009 with a Bachelor's degree in History. While at Towson, Ms. Scally was a member and co-president of Phi Alpha Theta (the History Honor Society), a participant in the Model Organization of American States, and Recipient of the John Carter Matthew's Prize (2008). She earned her Master of Science in Social Science (United States History Track) from Towson University in 2012. She is hoping to secure a full-time position at a museum or an educational institution.

What aspects of your TU education do you find yourself using most?


I find myself most frequently using reading and writing skills learned at Towson. The History Department places strong emphasis on reading, research, critical thinking, and writing, and I am thankful for this background. I have found these skills to be most useful, not only in my academics, but in both my professional and personal life.

What particularly surprised you most about life after college?


The challenges of the job market surprised me most after college. Fortunately, I've found my degree provided me with a vast background, which has made the job search less daunting.

What advice do you wish that you had been offered when you first came to Towson?

I transferred to Towson mid-way through my sophomore year of college. At the time, I was assigned a general advisor who helped me pick classes. It wasn't until the following year I had a member of the History Department's faculty helping me make more sensible choices. While some of my classes were taken out of sequence, I think the organization of the program made it easy to understand which classes were required of me. I especially liked the flexibility of taking elective courses within the program that best suited my interests, while still gaining a well-rounded understanding of history spanning various eras and geographic regions. I think every history student should be taken on a tour of Cook Library, and attend some sort of tutorial class on using EBSCO, JSTOR and other online services the library offers. I attended something similar while taking Dr. Grey's History 300 course, led by Sara Nixon, and found it most helpful. I only wish I had this experience earlier in my academic career.

What skills do employers in your field particularly value?

Employers in my field particularly value my writing skills and my attention to detail. I remember a former classmate once asking a professor why we needed to be so well versed in grammar, spelling, and punctuation since it was a history course, not English. Since then, I have valued my professors' attention to teaching us these skills, because no matter what the subject or task, writing well exudes professionalism.

What can TU history students do to gain those skills or highlight them in their resumes?

To gain these skills, TU history students must be willing to commit themselves. Being a history major at Towson means long hours of reading, research, and writing, but with the reward of satisfaction and pride. Many college students wouldn't know where to begin in writing a 20 page research paper, for example, but history students do. Towson teaches the skills that enable its history students to think critically about information, question short and long term causes of significant historical events, and become masters in their respective field of study.

How did your history degree help you?

My degree in history has helped me in countless ways. It facilitates deeper thinking about current events and how they are so often linked to the past. My connections with classmates and professors, as well as my membership in Phi Alpha Theta, through Towson's history program has given me both a personal and professional network I find most rewarding. Finally, my degree has given me a great sense of pride and accomplishment. I am proud to be an alumni of Towson, and even more proud to have completed this program.

 

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Matt Smith, Class of 2009Matt Smith, B.S. 2009

Matt Smith graduated from Towson University with a Major in International Relations in 2009. He is a member of the University of Maryland Medical School’s class of 2016 and will be participating in a medical mission to Honduras in February 2012.

I have always had a strong love of history and an abiding interest in the lessons that the past can teach us about the present day. Though I graduated with a degree in International Relations, I took many history classes – particularly focusing on Latin America. By the end of undergrad I realized that I had to add medicine to my list of academic fascinations..

What aspects of your TU education do you find yourself using most?

Towson gave me two great skill sets that have served me in a variety of situations: 1) Leadership Skills (I was an Outdoor Trip Leader and Project Marj instructor through the Adventure Pursuits program); 2) Writing Skills. The ability to put together a clear, cogent document that summarizes an opinion backed up by facts is critical in EVERY field of study.

What particularly surprised you most about life after college?

After college you have total freedom. For some, this can be an exhilarating and liberating experience, but it leaves others feeling like a lost ship in a storm, not knowing what to do. I was lucky enough to have already formulated a plan for after school (more school!). In this economy it is not easy to find a job, if you’re considering graduate school anyway (especially if you can find an employer that will pay for it), go for it!

What advice do you wish that you had been offered when you first came to Towson? as a rising senior? and when you came out of college?

1) Develop relationships with professors that are not just superficial. Become a TA for them, or do research. They are the best guides you will get. 2) Don’t waste your senior year. Take classes that will give you valuable skills, build relationships, or allow you to perform research that will build your resume. 3) Before you graduate, take an hour to sit down and truly look deep into your own mind and figure out what you want to spend your time and energy doing. What can you do with your life that will motivate you to get out of bed and put on a smile every day?

What skills do employers in your field particularly value?

Medicine is an interesting field because it requires that you be part scientist and part humanitarian – head and heart at the same time. In my opinion, the field could use more empathetic humanities scholars and fewer lab result-oriented biochemistry majors!

However, regardless of the nature of the job, all of my employers have highly regarded the following:

  • Ability to work as part of a team
  • Excellent written communication
  • Research skills (they don’t give you a study guide in real life)
  • Personal Initiative

What can TU history students do to gain those skills or highlight them in their resumes?

Teamwork and personal initiative aren’t skills that are usually developed in the classroom. I think that every student should become involved somehow – lead trips, join a sports club, join student government, even form your own band.

As for the writing skills, instead of treating research papers as an onerous task, look at them as an opportunity. First, you should research topics that you want to learn about anyway. If you’re not interested in what you’re writing about, odds are good nobody else is either. Loving the topic will encourage you to research more thoroughly and do the subject matter better justice.

How did your history degree help you?

I think that the beauty of a liberal arts education is that it teaches you how to think. Very few of the students currently majoring in history will become history professors or professional researchers. Many more will end up like me; doing something else that may be seemingly unrelated.

However, history provides context through which to better understand nearly everything. In addition, the skills acquired in the study of history (research, writing, critical thinking) are skills that are demanded in all fields and phases of life.

The most important thing I got out of my studies at Towson was not the degree in International Relations it was a way of thinking and looking at the modern world.


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Derek Salisbury, Class of 2010Derek Salisbury, B. S. 2010

Derek Salisbury graduated from Towson University in 2010 with a Major in History and a Minor in English. He is currently completing a Masters degree at the University of Vermont for a masters degree, focusing on movements of dignity and organic intellectualism in Latin America.

What aspects of your TU education do you find yourself using most?

As a graduate student the skills I most often use are those developed by academic discipline. The education I received at Towson University developed my ability to perform, cite, and report historical research. With the guidance of my professors and the library faculty at Towson I have found that I am well prepared for graduate level historical research.

The ability to perform research as well as compose analytical historical narrative is paramount to success in a graduate academic setting. However, I find myself using these skills in several facets of my life, including employment as an historical research assistant. As a research assistant tasked with building an archive for the University of Vermont the ability to collect, research, catalog, and analyze historical data is invaluable and much appreciated by the professional historians with whom I work.

What particularly surprised you most about life after college?

After graduating from Towson I was surprised to find the workload between undergraduate and graduate level to be as vast as it was. There is a dramatic increase in the amount of research, analysis, and composition needed to perform at the graduate level. At first it seems daunting, however, Towson University provided me with a robust academic toolset with which to adapt to the increased workload.

What advice do you wish that you had been offered when you first came to Towson? as a rising senior? and when you came out of college?

When first staring at Towson I wish I had been told to take better advantage of the research databases offered through Cook Library. Towson University has a massive online database of academic journals that compares to larger and more expensive universities. These databases and how to use them may be the most important tool for undergraduates and prospective graduate students. As a senior I had access to great faculty members who helped me prepare curriculum vitae, letters of recommendation, letters of intent, and examine potential graduate programs. Students interested in graduate coursework should take advantage of the help offered by Towson’s teaching and administrative faculty as early as possible to alleviate the stressful nature of selecting and applying to graduate programs.


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