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Misti Harper

Degree: MA History

When did you graduate? May 2011

What were some of the most rewarding/influential classes in your major? I especially enjoyed Dr. Wendy L. Castro’s “History of Witchcraft” and “History of American Women” courses. As a Ph. D. student with a minor field in gender studies, these courses provided a more-than-ample foundation for me to tackle my masters thesis that examined women’s roles in political crises and will continue to shape my work as I parlay that thesis into a dissertation. I also found Dr. David A. O’Hara’s course “The History of Ireland” and seminar “The Troubles” to be two of the most influential classes I took at the University of Central Arkansas. These courses enabled me to draw significant parallels between the American South and Northern Ireland’s civil rights struggles, which form the cornerstone of my current comparative research project.

Where did you live? A house in Little Rock with my husband

What groups did you belong to? Phi Alpha Theta

Did you participate in any experiences outside the classroom in your major field? During my years as a master’s student, I taught social studies and writing courses at Camp Robinson military base for the Army National Guard GED Plus Program. I also served as a judge for History Day papers in spring 2010.

What other experiences did you have that enriched your time as a student at UCA? I presented my masters project “Southern Magnolias and Orange Lilies” at the Second Annual Texas A & M Graduate Student Conference in February 2011; at the Second Annual History Graduate Student Association Conference at Louisiana State University in March 2011; and at the Arkansas Historical Association Conference at the Historic Arkansas Museum at Little Rock in April 2011.

What did you plan to do with your degree? I applied and was accepted to the University of Arkansas and Louisiana State University history graduate programs. I chose to attend the University of Arkansas, where I am currently in the third year of my doctorate program under the direction of Dr. Calvin White, Jr., a fellow alumnus of the University of Central Arkansas. I will take my comprehensive examinations in spring 2014.

How are you using your degree? I am using my Masters of Arts in History to pursue my Ph. D.

What disciplinary skills do you use most often in your current job? The methodological research and time management skills that I learned as a masters student have been the most essential in preparing me for a Ph. D. program and in keeping me focused as a student.

What are your plans? What will your degree allow you to do/accomplish as you move forward? After completion of my comprehensive examinations and dissertation, I plan to apply for a professorship at liberal arts colleges and universities and four-year state programs. I am especially excited by the prospect of teaching at historically Black colleges and universities. Ideally, I will be able to teach in the South; however, my studies have recently turned my attention to civil rights struggles within the Midwest that are fascinating and open new avenues of opportunity for me as an aspiring professor.

What is the most surprising/unexpected thing you learned about yourself during your time as a History student at UCA? When I first applied to the University of Central Arkansas, I was already teaching at Camp Robinson and my initial goal was to obtain a masters degree for the purpose of teaching online courses at a junior college. I quickly realized that I not only enjoyed teaching generally, but I loved research and writing as well. Even better, I learned that I had a gift for both and the drive to pursue an education beyond a masters degree. However, I could not have earned my Masters of Arts in History and would not be in the process of earning my Ph. D. if not for the tremendous talent and support of the faculty that I found at the University of Central Arkansas.

What advice would you give someone who wants to get a MA in History? PASSION! I encourage anyone who wants to earn his or her Masters of Arts in History to find the time period, person, or general area of interest that entices. If a person is not thrilled at the idea of spending copious hours engrossed in research, that person is definitely studying the wrong topic! Truly, a student’s passion for his or her subject is what will motivate them to continue studying, writing, engaging, and learning on the path toward earning a masters degree, and what will make the experience one of the most rewarding.