Matt Millsap

Degree: (BA, BSE, MA?) History BA 2009; History MA 2015

When (what year) did you graduate? BA 2009; MA 2015

What were some of the most rewarding/influential classes in your major? I found Dr. Lucas’s historiography and methods course to be one of the most rewarding experiences of my time at UCA as it forced me to reconsider how I approached history as a discipline.

Where did you live? Morrilton, AR

What groups did you belong to? (honors societies, RSOs, etc) Phi Alpha Theta

Did you participate in any experiences outside the classroom in your major field? (History Day, internships, Phi Alpha Theta field trips…)
I participated in ACRE’s (Arkansas Center for Research in Economics) 2015 Spring Symposium. Also, I attended and presented a paper at the World History and Economics conference at Appalachian State University in the Spring of 2015.

What other experiences did you have that enriched your time as a student at UCA? (study abroad, service learning, conference presentations, undergraduate research, honors thesis, etc.) During my four semesters as a graduate student at UCA, I wrote a thesis exploring the influence of Enlightenment thought on Puritan theology in colonial New England. The challenge and stimulation of researching, writing, and revising a project of that size greatly enhanced what was already a rewarding educational experience.

What did you plan to do with your degree? My long-term career goal has always been to teach.

How are you using your degree? I am currently finishing my Master’s degree, but I do plan on expanding the thesis I wrote at UCA into a dissertation.

What disciplinary skills do you use most often in your current job? Since I am still in the process of completing the degree I do not have a job outside of school. However, I do find that the skills required to complete an advanced degree in history are relevant beyond the confines of the discipline. Parsing irrelevant and relevant information, lucid writing, distilling cumbersome research down to its core arguments, and understanding broader perspectives are valuable skills honed through extended study in the field of history.

What are your plans? What will your degree allow you to do/accomplish as you move forward? I was accepted into the PhD program at Baylor University, and I plan to begin my doctoral studies there by expanding the work on Enlightenment and religion I started while at UCA.

What is the most surprising/unexpected thing you learned about yourself during your time as a BA/BSE/MA student (whichever you were) at UCA? I was pleasantly surprised by my ability to compete with other students from more prestigious institutions in terms of test scores and acceptance into PhD programs. This, I believe, is due to the genuine concern UCA history professors have for the academic and vocational success of their students.

What advice would you give someone who wants to get a BA/BSE/MA (whichever degree you completed) in history? Do it.