Kayla Kesterson

Degree: BA History, minor in Spanish

When did you graduate? May 2010

What were some of the most rewarding/influential classes in your major? Civil War and Reconstruction (Dr. Foote), Tudor/Stuart England (Dr. O’Hara), US and the Middle East (Dr. Welky), and History of Witchcraft (Dr. Castro): All of these classes broadened my way of thinking and peaked other interests for me.

Where did you live? I lived in Conway Hall as a freshman and Erbach Apartments for the remainder.

What groups did you belong to? Phi Alpha Theta

Did you participate in any experiences outside the classroom in your major field? I participated in one History Day, several Phi Alpha Theta functions, and I served an internship at the Encyclopedia of Arkansas.

What other experiences did you have that enriched your time as a student at UCA? I conducted undergraduate research regarding German immigration to the state of Arkansas. I believe that research, along with assigned research in each of my classes, prepared me for the thesis and articles I later wrote while obtaining my MS in another area of study. Study abroad was one of the most important experiences I had at UCA, and is truly one of the best ways to learn about other languages and cultures.

What did you plan to do with your degree? I was a history student without a cause. I majored in history because I loved the subject matter, not because I was certain there was a related career field for me. I just hoped there was. Off and on, I toyed with the idea of teaching.

How are you using your degree? I work for two historic hotels, sister properties. After going on to get a Master of Science in Hospitality Management, I found a place of employment that combines both of my degrees in a wonderful marriage of history (preservation) and hospitality.

What disciplinary skills do you use most often in your current job? Communication. History teaches us to think critically and to communicate those thoughts to others. I talk to many people every day, both verbally and in written form. Nothing is more important than my ability to communicate.

What are your plans? What will your degree allow you to do/accomplish as you move forward? History is still my number one interest, but that interest took a turn toward preservation. My goal is to one day use my degree to further a career in or make investments in historic preservation projects.

What is the most surprising/unexpected thing you learned about yourself during your time as a BA student at UCA? I learned that I had a passion for learning and for history. I did not begin my undergraduate career as a history major. I just could not stop taking history classes (thanks to the wonderful teaching abilities of UCA history professors) and as a result, it turned into my degree field. Despite the advice of others who told me I would be better off majoring in other things, I have never regretted it.

What advice would you give someone who wants to get a BA in history? Some majors are specific and take you to an obvious career path in the end. History does not. You do not have to be a teacher or sit in a basement and read historic documents all day, unless of course, you want to.

Also, be involved in your degree. Take the classes that interest you. Network with other people in the field and learn what it is that you might like to do (or not do) with your degree while you are still obtaining it. Do one or more internships. And definitely take advantage of the skills you are being taught as a history student. You never know in what capacity you will get to use them one day.