“I feel so confident setting out into the world, namely because of the skills I’ve learned from my time at SU.”


Coming into Southwestern University, Lizzie Barry ’21 knew she wanted to pursue something with history. Some of her favorite family vacations were stopping at historical sites such as Gettysburg and the Wright Brothers Memorial! However, her journey as a history major wasn’t always a straight line. She first wanted to be a History and Education double major but after learning that this would limit her ability to take other courses or study abroad, she dropped the Education major. She then switched to an English major and History minor, then to English and History major, and now, she is a History Honors major with an English minor, wow! 

As an Honors student for the History department, Lizzie took her interest in history to the next level; choosing to spend three semesters working on her undergraduate thesis (as opposed to the one semester allotted for capstone required of all students) culminating in a very lengthy paper. Her experience at SU, both in and out of classes, represents making the most out of one’s time studying history in this small liberal arts college.

But before being an Honors student, Lizzie had to get acquainted with the undergraduate study of history. Her first History course was Dr. Joseph Hower’s “History of the Civil Rights Movement” which introduced her to the reality that her time at SU would be nothing like her high school history education. Soon after, she took World History with Dr. Jessica Hower and once again she was challenged with new approaches to understanding history. Her final paper for that course was on the Irish Potato Famine and the dynamics between Ireland and England. This then led her to taking Dr. Jessica Hower’s “Tudors, Witches, and British Isles” in which she continued to study Ireland. Finally, she spent her historiography course focusing on Ireland as well. In all of these courses, she’s discussed women and gender and thus, her Honors project, “The Sisters of Terror: Gender and Generation in the Northern Irish Troubles,” was genuinely a culmination of her studies!

“I soon realized that I had to change my perspective and worldview, as well as keep a fully open mind, in order to get the most out of [History of the Civil Rights Movement].” 

Lizzie really enjoyed her time working on the project, especially with the support of Dr. Jessica Hower. She was able to develop as a researcher and scholar by working on such a large, long-term project, that was challenging in a variety of ways. In her own words: “it has definitely helped prepare me for future historical research because now I know that I have the skills necessary to complete such a daunting project.”

Beyond her studies, Lizzie was able to ground herself with hands-on experience related to an integral part of the study of history, maintaining historical documents at SU’s Special Collections! In her own words: “It gave me the opportunity to simply be curious about history, so it definitely helped add to my interest in history. I have always thought that it was so interesting to be able to have a hands on experience with the physical history of SU, Georgetown, and even as far back as Ancient Egypt.”

“I am leaving with an even better appreciation for history because I now recognize all the steps that are necessary to preserve it – so much effort must be put in to ensure that we don’t lose vital pieces of history and information, and Special Collections really helped me to see that.” 

It’s safe to say that Lizzie has gone through many hoops in the past 4 years towards graduating as a History Honors student. She excelled here and we know she will continue to do so outside of SU, far past the arch. Her current plan is to find a job in the Austin area to take a gap year before pursuing graduate school for information science! Her ultimate goal is to become an archivist for a library or special collections. “I’ve loved my time at SU’s Special Collections and think that I would have such a good time doing something similar for my career,” she said. Well Lizzie, on behalf of the SU history department, I can say that we have enjoyed having you here. We wish you the best of luck after SU!