What did you particularly enjoy about your degree programme?
The teacher to student ratio is fantastic and allows for in-depth discussions during class. I always felt I could approach my professors with questions before, during and after class. Given their wide range of specialties, I'm willing to bet there is a professor for every student's historical interests.
What did you do after graduation?
I returned to my state of New Hampshire on the US east coast and immediately began applying for jobs in the history field. Even with an MA for Sheffield, I had to wait for eight months before I received an offer for full time employment. The saturation of liberal arts majors and the focus on STEM based initiatives means a graduate needs to be tenacious in the pursuit of opportunities.
What was your first job and what skills from your MA degree did you use?
I was hired by my alma mater as an adjunct lecturer in the humanities department. I was allowed to design my own course based on my specialty (Early Tudor England).
I focused on making this history class "hands on". Not only would students learn about Tudor England, but they would experience it through the senses. We had live discussions with experts from around the world (some of whom I met during my time at Sheffield), danced to Renaissance music, ate medieval food and wore the clothing and armor of the time. This hands-on approach was something completely different for the students at this university and the course was a great success.
I am returning in the fall to teach it again.
I drew on what I learned from my public history class with Dr. Fletcher. I wanted to find alternative methods of teaching the subject matter which not only makes the class more interesting, but forces the students to think differently. The hands-on aspect is a direct result.
What have you been doing since then?
Besides continuing my adjunct work at the University of New Hampshire, I will be teaching history at a classical education based charter school. The idea is to use history as the main subject with which we can teach values, reading, writing and rhetoric. As we expand and bring in more teachers, I hope to lead the department in the near future.
I have also done some research on starting an education based re-enactment company which will provide living history programs for schools, libraries and towns. Authentic replica clothing is already in the works!
How did your time at Sheffield and your history degree help prepare you for your roles?
Once I arrived at Sheffield, I realized that pursuing history as a hobby and studying history as work are two entirely separate things. I never knew about the nuances within source material or the depths that research can plumb. Even the politics of history were discussed which has since led me to open every class with the question "who owns history?".
The required research, the essays, the discussions, and the work placement all provided valuable skills and experience. You have to use your time appropriately, think and write critically, rework your theories under constructive criticism, and be proactive. All of these skills can be found in the work placement course which I highly recommend. Being able to say that I worked at a 16th century heritage site really helped me stand out to potential employers.