I graduated from Southwestern with a double major in History and English. These days you can find me at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, working on a PhD in Composition and Rhetoric. However, my interest in studying writing and the teaching of writing began at Southwestern: after three exciting years as a consultant in the Debby Ellis Writing Center, and one year as assistant director, I decided to go on to study composition in graduate school.

Now, while some people say “Follow your passion,” I’m a little more pragmatic. I say, follow your passion to a related problem that other people actually care about and prepare to help solve that problem. (More of a mouthful, sure, but also more useful career-wise.) After my first year of graduate school, I realized that technology was one of those problems for writing: the explosion of new technologies is transforming how people write, but many academic programs aren’t sure yet how to deal with and capitalize on that change. Of course, I’m not sure yet either, which is why I’ve taken jobs that let me explore the question and share what I find with others. When not fulfilling degree requirements, or procrastinating shamelessly, I split my time between related jobs as the Technology Coordinator for my university’s Writing Program and as a consultant for its Office of Information Technologies.

So what does any of this have to do with history? Well, what drew me to my current jobs, to graduate school, and to a major in history was a passion for investigation. Also, while history major to tech geek might sound like a strange trajectory, it seems less random if you realize that problem solving isn’t just about being a computer whiz or mystifying people with the right jargon. You have to understand the issue in context – not only how things are, but how they ended up that way – in order to suggest the best direction for the future.

So, really, the skills I’ve needed to succeed are the ones I honed as a history major: to research relentlessly and document carefully; to think creatively and communicate clearly; to analyze and understand causes and connections rather than just end results. Though, maybe the most important lessons are the ones I learned from my time at Southwestern as a whole: work collaboratively, never take yourself too seriously, and always make time to have Nerf gun battles in the hallways of Mood-Bridwell.


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