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It’s time to bid farewell to our graduating seniors, who are embarking on a fascinating range of professional, service, and academic endeavors. We spoke to just a few of them to find out what they’re doing next—and why they decided to major in History.


Mary Grady Bell
Mary Grady Bell

Mary Grady Bell

Post-graduation plan: business analyst in the Atlanta office of McKinsey & Co., a global management consulting firm

Why study history? “Studying history, and especially writing a thesis, has provided me with valuable skills like how to research, how to write, and how to present effectively. These skills will also benefit me as a consultant where my primary responsibilities will also be conducting research and presenting new findings.”


Tyler Fleming
Tyler Fleming

Tyler Fleming

Post graduation plan: reporter at the Sun News in Myrtle Beach, SC

Why study history? “My professors always told me how important it is…to be critical of what sources I use. Too many journalists do not have this skill, but thanks to UNC, I will always remember that nothing happens without a history and that not every source is a good one. Second, my professors showed me through example what writing with courage looks like. Cutting-edge historical arguments challenge past perceptions, and every professor I’ve had the privilege of learning from welcomes the controversy if the argument needed to be said. You’ll find a lot of journalist not so brave.”


Olivia Holder
Olivia Holder

Olivia Holder

Post-graduation plans: Master’s student at Yenching Academy, Peking University’s elite graduate school for global leaders

Why study history? “I distinctly remember sitting in my grandmother’s kitchen during my junior year pondering over a cup of tea in blue and white cup from England. I sat wondering just how and why the rituals celebrated by Lu Yu around a millennia and a half ago on a mountain side in China—and a Western gesture at the East’s beloved porcelain—have come to play such an important role in my own [life]…. I am interested in the transcultural exchanges revealed in history that remind us that in our modern world so often our histories and cultures are intertwined.”


Sydney Bezanson
Sydney Bezanson

Sydney Bezanson

Post-graduation plans: Peace Corps volunteer, posted in Benin

Why study history? “I see people posting on Facebook about something and saying ‘this is the way it happened.’ I think, no! Studying history is a great way to understand the complexity of people, the different interpretations of what happened, the importance of context and sources for understanding how a story is told. I would also add that history involves some storytelling, which really encapsulates the human experience, and does so by considering context. We look at what people leave behind and try to make sense of these fragments to produce a coherent narrative.”


Lacey Hunter
Lacey Hunter

Lacey Hunter

Post-graduation plans: Historical Interpreter intern at Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson, and a position at the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies in Charlottesville, VA

Why study history? “Studying history, the eighteenth century in my case, has taught me about the diverse range of human experience and human condition throughout time. Historians and History majors spend a lot of time studying people that exist in contexts that are really different from our own. Because of this, I am constantly putting myself in other peoples’ shoes. Why did they do this? Why did they write that? Where do their ideas come from?…We can apply this concept to people living around us today, as well—if we fail to try to see their world we miss the opportunity of ever understanding them as people.”


Matthew McKnight
Matthew McKnight

Matthew McKnight

Post-graduation plans: Legislative fellow in the United States Senate

Why study history? “My history major has provided me with excellent preparation for my upcoming job on Capitol Hill by challenging me to think critically about the ideas and values that shaped the United States, and which continue to drive policy discussions today…. We live in an era of critique and deconstruction, of instant information and 24 hours news coverage. History has given me the perspective to look past much of this reactionary punditry and daily drama of the news to ask bigger questions about the trends that are shaping the United States.”


Alexander Peeples
Alexander Peeples

Alexander Peeples

Post-graduation plans: Masters student in International Justice in Ireland, on a Mitchell Scholarship

Why study history? “Studying places outside the Global North made me think about the past in more complex ways, encouraged me to use alternative research methods like oral history, and reinforced the importance of understanding cultural specificity when attempting to understand new contexts. Doing research in Tanzania with history department funding is the only time I’ve been outside the U.S., and it was an important moment for me in understanding what aspects of my own life I’ve implicitly and inaccurately universalized.”

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