2019 graduate Mason Fox on why she chose to major in history.
My name is Mason Fox, and I am a senior at UTC majoring in history with a minor in education.
My arrival in the history program, however, was not an immediate one. When I first entered college I was a pre-vet major, but after a year I decided it wasn’t the right path for me. So then I was left trying to decide what major would be the most suitable. I knew I enjoyed reading and writing, so I thought I would try communications with a focus in journalism. While the classes were interesting, and the job outcomes seemed good, I did not enjoy the focus on social media and the strict structure journalistic writing requires.
Then I remembered that history had always been an interest of mine, but I feared that studying history wouldn’t prepare me for many professions. I soon learned that a history major offers a wide variety of opportunities and skills that other degrees may not.
For example, while teaching is certainly a popular route for history majors, there are many other career paths a history major can pursue. Jobs in government and law are frequently populated with employees who majored in history. In addition, businesses and even communications companies need employees who have high reading, writing, and researching skills. These companies may have engineers and marketers who are very good at their jobs, but they need someone on their staff who is talented at writing and analyzing—that’s a history major. Plus, a dream job for many history buffs is working for a museum or national park. This could certainly be attained through a history major.
While reading and writing are definitely skills history majors will acquire, other skills like organization and analysis will improve with a history degree. I have noticed that because of my history classes I find myself analyzing everything. Whether it be written texts, photographs, or even music, I am always analyzing its meaning.
One of the most important skills I have attained through my history major is having a basic understanding of the world around me. A history major will have a comprehensive understanding of how we got where we are today, and why the world is the way it is. In my view, so many people today do not have the benefit of having this knowledge. It is both inspiring and self-rewarding to know a history major will absolutely understand much more than the average person.
Another very exciting opportunity that a history degree provides is writing a departmental thesis. I am currently working on a thesis about the Vietnam War, and the anti-war movement’s effects on the military. This research led me to travel to Texas Tech in Lubbock over the summer, where I spent a week researching that topic. Among the most incredible artifacts I discovered were handwritten letters from soldiers. As I held an actual letter written from a soldier in 1968, I noticed that the GI mentioned it was monsoon season in Vietnam. He said, “It’s been raining nonstop for weeks.” As I analyzed the letter I noticed there were still raindrop stains all over the sheet of paper. That moment gave me an incredible sense of nostalgia and excitement. I couldn’t help but imagine a soldier sitting in a foxhole, writing to his family in the pouring rain.
This is the thrilling opportunity a history degree can give you—choose a topic that deeply interests you and discover new and fascinating things along the way.