I’ve been into history since I was in the first grade in 2003. I know that sounds extra, and that’s how everybody starts introductory blogs, but it’s true. One of my older sisters did a book report on Mary, Bloody Mary by Carolyn Meyer and left the book lying around, and I picked it up and was instantly hooked. This started me on a passion for the history of Tudor England specifically, but also a fascination with how things used to be and how they had changed in the intervening centuries between now and “a long time ago”.
At first, history was just a hobby, a class I excelled in and was interested by, but nothing more. Then in 9th grade, I saw quote from Stephen King, saying that a real author reads 70-80 books per year. Since being an author had been the ambition of my tender heart since before I knew how to write (I actually got in trouble several times for “writing” when I was in pre-k, since my “writing” at the time was just scribbling lines of loops in the perfectly nice journals I had been given for practicing the alphabet) I thought, I should give that a try. I pretty quickly ran out of YA that I found compelling, and so I moved on to historical fiction, remembering how interesting I had always found different time periods. Shortly even that wasn’t enough, and I began to read more scholarly works of historical nonfiction to find out more about my favorite subjects. By the time I was in 11th grade (2013) I knew that I wanted history to figure prominently in my higher education.
I knew that I wanted my future to involve a well-paid job without many extra years of schooling beyond undergrad, so it seemed like a traditional liberal arts college was out of the question. But there was nothing that interested me as much or made me as happy as history, and nothing that made me feel as out of my depth as technology. Because my dad from graduated Tech (BSBio in 1976) and I had two sisters there at the time who have since graduated (both BSBAs in 2016) and I’ve been going to Tech football games since before I really knew what football was, it made sense to at least check it out and see if I could picture myself happy in any of the majors.
That was when I hit across something that perfectly fit all of my requirements- the Ivan Allen College of Liberal Arts. I could study my history and learn about the things that interested me, but I could also learn other supporting skills that would help me get a job after graduation. All of my coursework would be geared towards relevance in the modern world without losing respect for the past. The IAC had a wealth of opportunities, from doing research with professors to being a college ambassador, and I would have access to all the resources of a large, well-funded state institute while still enjoying the small class sizes and close relationships with professors of a regular liberal arts college. Additionally, I would graduate with a Bachelor of Science, instead of a Bachelor of Arts, so I would be equally prepared for any path I wanted to take- if I wanted a job in a humanities field, my coursework would speak for itself, and if I wanted a job in any different field, having a BS would clearly demonstrate that I had been well trained in the rigorous STEM courses expected of a Bachelor of Science. And as an added bonus, the History, Technology, and Society major had the most free credits of any major in the school, making it easy for me to pursue anything from a double major to a certificate as well as possible to continue participating in band and orchestra, programs I have enjoyed since my early adolescence.
When I packed up and moved to campus and got ready for my first semester, I didn’t know just how many amazing opportunities I would have. I’ve been able to participate in the research option, and write an entire paper about the Tudors, which I presented at the most recent regional history conference. I’ve become one of the Ivan Allen College Ambassadors, and the vast array of skills I’ve learned from helping coordinate volunteers at our Shadow Day recruitment events and hosting information sessions have helped me become a more effective student and to stay calm (or calmer anyway!) in high-pressure situations. Those skills also translated well to working part-time while also taking classes in the Office of Enrollment and Student Affairs for almost a year. I founded a club (the History and Sociology Club) and was inducted to Phi Alpha Theta, the national history honor society. I’ve taken classes that have impacted my worldview like European Intellectual History and the History of Disease and Medicine, and classes that greatly developed my understanding of subjects I previously thought I knew a lot about, like the Classical Tradition, and the Science, Politics, and Culture of Nazi Germany. I’ve had a chance to learn from teachers who are some of the foremost subject experts in their field. It’s also been possible for me to get a certificate in Information Technology Management from the Scheller College of Business, which helped me get my current internship with IBM, and to remain a member of the Yellow Jacket Marching Band and become a brother of KKPsi, the national honorary band service fraternity.
These experiences have really influenced my development from a teenager who was unsure of quite what she wanted to do but knew she wanted it to not involve chemistry or computers into an adult with aspirations to work full-time, and perhaps pursue a masters’ degree, in Cybersecurity Policy. My experiences at Georgia Tech as a whole, but specifically in the Ivan Allen College, have taught me that if there’s anything important to have in life, it’s the attitude that any problem, no matter how daunting, can be solved. Except for maybe chemistry I’m not gonna lie to you it’s the devil’s work.
As I enter my senior year, I’m looking forward to continuing to work part time, and giving more of my attention to my extracurricular activities. I still have one more year left, and I’m really excited to see how many new opportunities and experiences are waiting around the corner.
Note: the picture above is of me as Eleanor of Aquitaine at the HCon, hosted by the History and Sociology Club on Halloween. Featured also is the most prominent HTS major, Kayleigh Haskin, as a fabulous Boudicca.