Julie McVey

Degree: BA History

When did you graduate? May 2011

What were some of the most rewarding/influential classes in your major? Almost all of them! Women’s History, Internship in Southern History at the Clinton Foundation, and Senior Seminar in particular come to mind.

Where did you live? I lived on-campus in New Hall and Farris Hall through undergrad.

What groups did you belong to? Phi Alpha Theta, Anthropology Club

Did you participate in any experiences outside the classroom in your major field? I did an internship my junior year at the Clinton Foundation, which was influential in my career path as a museum professional.

What other experiences did you have that enriched your time as a student at UCA? My freshman and sophomore years I participated in Laughing Stock, the UCA Honors College sketch comedy troupe. I studied abroad in Shanghai, China during the summer of 2009, spent a year and a half as a research assistant cataloguing and researching the anthropology department’s West Mexican shaft tomb pottery collection, wrote an honor’s thesis on the pottery collection and created an online collection database using CONTENTdm, and presented on the collection at the Arkansas Sociology conference in 2010. I also presented my senior seminar paper, “Facing the Stained Glass Ceiling: The Ordinations of the Philadelphia Eleven and the Trajectory of the American Episcopal Church,” at two undergraduate conferences in 2011.

What did you plan to do with your degree? I planned to apply for a job in the museum field, preferably in history, and eventually attend graduate school in history or museum studies.

How are you using your degree? I began working at the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, a museum of African American history, a month after graduation. I have worked at MTCC in the collections department for nearly three years and plan to attend the University of Maryland to obtain dual master’s degrees in history and library science in fall 2014.

What disciplinary skills do you use most often in your current job? Historical research and writing are integral to my job. I research artifacts and state history to create exhibits and to preserve and better understand the history and importance of MTCC’s collections.

What are your plans? What will your degree allow you to do/accomplish as you move forward? In graduate school, I plan to concentrate on gender history and digital curation and archiving so I can work in the history and new media field of the museum and public history profession. My degree from UCA allowed me to work in my ideal career field straight out of undergrad and will allow me to attend a top university for my graduate training.

What is the most surprising/unexpected thing you learned about yourself during your time as a BA History student at UCA? I learned that I actually wanted to be a historian! When I started my undergraduate degree, I thought I wanted to concentrate in anthropology or sociology. After taking a few history classes and doing an internship with the Clinton Foundation, though, I realized that my real passion lay in public history and educating myself and others on the importance of our past in understanding the present.

What advice would you give someone who wants to get a BA in History? I would advise a prospective history student to be ready to develop a good deal of self-discipline, because you’ll need it to get all of your reading and writing done. Be able to think critically and know that most of the time there is no right answer, only a strongly researched, well-written argument. Also be prepared to spend a lot of time hunting down primary sources, learn to love the library, and be nice to archivists and curators (they have all the good stuff!).