On Friday December 8, 2017, the Stevenson Public History Program undertook its 5th Professional Development Day. Marking the end of each semester, the day allows the recognition of graduating majors, two separate career oriented talks, and an awards and prize ceremony. Dinner is served midway through the event. It is a semi-annual celebration of who we are and offers our majors the opportunity to hear from professionals within the field. In addition, graduates of the program return to anchor discussion with current majors about life beyond the program.
This semester's event took place at a local Knights of Columbus hall and was catered by Mission BBQ of Owings Mills. We had a record breaking number of attendees-- 36 in total! It was a great mix of majors, alums, faculty, and guests. The hall was decorated prior to the event by Kaitlyn Webster, Caroline Smith, Stephanie Czeslowski, and Austin Knox. Professor Goodall brought the Santa and Snow Man figures with cutout faces for photo ops, and Professor McGraw was a photo op himself wearing his Karl Marx gear.
Caption: Professor Joe McGraw and PHIST major Jenny Liles in their holiday best! (Photo courtesy of J. Liles)
Dr. Denise Meringolo of the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC) anchored the professional development session by speaking of her career in public history, her journey toward becoming Director of Public History at UMBC, and the role of the Master's degree in Public History. She described the Master's program at UMBC and also offered advice regarding other graduate opportunities at other schools. Denise also addressed when in their career grad school might make sense. Finally, Denise exhorted our majors to view public history more as a career in public service rather than simply a way to make money. Implicit in her comments was the message that public history is a calling, a way to engage with the community that has its own powerful rewards.
Caption: Denise Meringolo, of UMBC, addresses the program regarding a career in public history and where graduate school fits into that pursuit.
Next up was Stevenson PHIST grad Dan Scotten. Dan talked about being unsure of what he wanted to do at Stevenson until he entered the PHIST Program. He called upon our majors to take advantage of every opportunity that came their way, to ask faculty members for advice regarding career decisions, and to expect to work hard to gain full time employment after graduation. With a great degree of humility, Dan described being hired as the National Human Genome Research Institute's first archivist and his time in that position. Describing how he knew it was the right time to go to graduate school, he advised our majors to keep their hands in the discipline as a part time employee even as they were getting their Master's. With a wonderful sense of humor and a self deprecating approach, Dan was immediately able to connect with his audience. He completed his talk by describing his current position as the National Electronic Museum's "Museum Educator."
Caption: Stevenson PHIST alum Dan Scotten, currently Museum Educator of the National Electronics Museum, addresses majors regarding his time in the program and his ensuing career in public history.
While the formal program had speakers who addressed the program as a whole, each of the tables was a mix of majors, faculty, and alums. Informally, each of our majors had the opportunity to speak with former members of the program as well as faculty members about life after Stevenson. Between our full time faculty members, adjunct professors, and alums, over 160 years experience was available to be tapped into by our majors as they shared their meal together. Alums shared their hard earned knowledge regarding opportunities and experiences at the Smithsonian, the Visionary Art Museum of Baltimore, the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, the Library of Congress, NIH, the National Park Service, the 6th Branch community service group of Baltimore, and Americorps.
Events like this are what make Stevenson's Public History Program special. When you are joining our major you are really joining a tight knit family. We care deeply about public history. We care deeply about community. We care deeply about each other.
Public historians-- we are the fun historians.