Alumni Magazine

SPR-SUM 2016

The alumni magazine for Franklin Pierce University.

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SPRING 2016 \ PIERCE 21 classes and Jetté invited Cote to return to campus to give a talk to students this April. "What she's done," says senior history major Alexa Wallace, "is help me think, 'I can do it, too.' " Cote is not sure where her career will take her after the Folger appointment ends in January 2017, but says she fnds herself drawn towards the front lines of how museums and libraries fnd innovative ways to face the challenges of the 21 st century. "I know that wherever I end up I want to work at a place that is trying to change who they are, and who they serve as an institution," Cote says. "Change is inevitable but it's really hard, and for humanities-based institutions, it's vital that they start looking to the future and adapting." Cote's passion for experiencing and sharing a per- sonal connection to history — and for digging into how the past can help us understand, navigate, and appreci- ate the world of today — is clearly something that has not dimmed for her since childhood. "History does not only exist in an academic setting," she says, "It's everywhere, and we have the opportunity to teach it and let people experience it anywhere… We need to explore these opportunities and make sure his- tory is recorded and kept alive for future generations." O, brave new world, that has such graduates in it! For more information on the tour, go to: www. folger.edu/about-the-frst-folio-tour s a graduating senior majoring in history, Alexa Wallace '16 has taken some razzing from friends and roommates over the years: "History? You're never going to get a job. What a waste of time, you're going to make, like, $10 an hour." Everyone would have a good laugh. But to paraphrase William Shakespeare, "the whirligig of time brings its revenge." These days, those same friends sidle up to Wallace, asking sheepishly, "Um, would you look over my paper?" "I tell them, 'Yeah, sure, but I should be charging you after the stuf you said to me!'" laughs Wallace. Turns out, you don't just delve into the past when you ma- jor in history at Pierce; you also learn how to think and read critically, how to view complex issues from many angles, how to organize and present major projects at a professional level, and how to write well—all qualities which are still in great demand in corporate America. "I defnitely think Pierce history majors are better prepared for the workforce" than some other students, Wallace says. "Working at a job, you're under pressure, and in the Pierce history department you are trained to work under pressure." The rigor Wallace matter-of-factly describes is part of the plan, says Associate Professor Douglas Ley. "I know much of the content I teach will be forgotten after a few years. But the repetition of elemental skills doesn't go away. Research is re- search. The ability to formulate questions, and formulate ways to get at those questions, and then be able to communicate them, is very important." History is viewed by some as an old-fashioned major, Ley admits, but in a good way: "We tend to demand more. We require lots of reading, papers, essay exams…the rigor we expect from our students has not diminished over the years. Our history majors take pride in that." These are not easiest of times for the humanities on col- lege campuses. History has never have been a major for big bucks, but today's post-recession job market and student loan debt means even more pressure on students to think about their future career. A 2015 report by the Economic Policy Institute concluded bluntly that "young college gradu- ates… face a tough labor market." Ley has heard it all before. "Most people change careers multiple times. So the notion of getting a degree in a particu- lar employment feld can be short-sighted. It's only going to train you for your frst career. It may not prepare for the other four or fve careers that you're going to have." Most graduates of the history department do not end up as working historians, Ley says, and instead they go into law, insurance, business, teaching, victims advocacy, non-proft work, counseling, research. "But they all have a great loyalty to history, and they'll tell us how the major prepared them well." For Wallace, as with graduate Maribeth Cote, choosing his- tory was merely a question of following her passion. Though she came to Pierce to run track, Wallace knew "right of the bat" that she wanted to major in history, thanks to two forma- tive experiences. Growing up in Woodstock, Conn., her entire third grade class moved into a one-room schoolhouse for a week and recreated life in the early 1860's ("I loved it," she recalls), and then in high school she worked at Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts as a junior interpreter for visitors. Wallace hasn't decided yet whether she wants to pursue an academic career or head towards Public History. But she says after her four years at Pierce, she feels ready for what's ahead. "I know the jobs are out there, and I'm really confdent now," she says. —Clayton Stromberger Old-Fashioned Success The intense demands of history prepared Alexa Wallace for what's ahead

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