LONG BEACH, Miss. – Public history professionals recently visited University of Southern Mississippi history majors to advise and convey how their career choice helps the public understand the present by revisiting the past.
Chad Daniels, the first director of the Mississippi Armed Forces Museum; Jamie Ellis, a local history and genealogy librarian and adjunct instructor in the Southern Miss department of history; and Faye Walmsley, a history interpreter for the National Park Service, were guest speakers during this month’s Southern Miss Gulf Coast chapter of Phi Alpha Theta’s career panel.
Each spent time talking to students, faculty and staff about careers achieved with either an undergraduate or graduate degree in history.
“In museum fields, you take history and turn it into something people can experience,” Daniels said. “We tell the story in a fairly broad scope so that people can understand.”
Panelists also gave advice on job searches, job applications tips and using a history degree to find an enjoyable fulfilling job.
“As each member of the panel discussed the path they followed to their current positions, I think our students saw that successful historians take responsibility for their own careers by identifying jobs that fit their interests and acquiring the experience and contacts needed to get those positions,” said Dr. Douglas Bristol, assistant professor of history at Southern Miss and the Gulf Coast adviser for Phi Alpha Theta.
The dual master’s degree in history and library information science, both offered at the Southern Miss Gulf Park campus and Hattiesburg campus, has allowed Ellis to continue researching as a historian and maintain her position at the Biloxi Public Library helping patrons.
Walmsley said her job is to take the components of a park and make it meaningful to its visitors. Her love of the outdoors and childhood summers spent at Civil War memorial parks makes her job as an interpreter for National Park Service much more significant, she said.
Phi Alpha Theta, an international history honor society, hosts a variety of events promoting fellowship among history majors that encourage students to take an active role in their own professional development. Along with the careers panel, the Southern Miss Gulf Coast chapter sponsors guest speakers, which include local authors and historians. Members also participate in the annual statewide conference where undergraduate students present their research.
About The University of Southern Mississippi
The University of Southern Mississippi, founded in 1910, is a comprehensive doctoral and research-extensive university fulfilling its mission of being a leading university in engaging and empowering individuals to transform lives and communities. In a tradition of leadership for student development, Southern Miss is educating a 21st century work force providing intellectual capital, cultural enrichment and innovation to Mississippi and the world. Southern Miss is located in Hattiesburg, Miss., with an additional campus and teaching and research sites on the Mississippi Gulf Coast; further information is found at www.usm.edu/gulfcoast .