My Story of How I Became a History Major
“When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy.’ They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.” Life is about the job of living your life that meets your needs and goals. This is the story of how I became a history major. Some prior knowledge you should know about me is where I grew up, where I got my education, and what I am doing now. So, for where I grew up, I grew up in Waynesboro, VA.
For those who don’t know where that is, Waynesboro, Virginia is approximately 30 miles west of Charlottesville and the University of Virginia. Waynesboro is on one side of Rockfish Gap, a break of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Rockfish Gap is home to part of the Appalachian Trail, Skyline Drive, and Blue Ridge Parkway. Since these three tourist attractions are near Waynesboro, Waynesboro has made a large effort to help and accommodate both hikers and drivers from around the country and the world. I went to Waynesboro Public Schools, which for me was Berkeley Glenn Elementary, Kate Collins Middle, and Waynesboro High School. For what I am doing now, I am a history major in the College of Education. I am in the secondary education program. With this degree, I plan to teach Middle School history.
Now to why I am a history major. It all started with a talk our future high school principal gave and still gives to 7th graders every year. Mr. Teachey, the principal, gave the lecture about how we should now start figuring out what we want to do with our lives. I took this lecture to heart and started giving active thought to who I wanted to be when I grew up. Then I was a 7th grade student what I did is start looking at jobs that were around me. This included; my parents, friends’ parents, older siblings of myself and friends, cooks, doctors, dentist, teachers, and other jobs that we see every day. As I looked through to the start of my high school career the only things I knew was that I was good at history and math. I also knew three things that kept popping up in my life; quotes and phrases, understanding why we do what we do, and self-learning. For the quotes and phases, I kept being drawn to short saying but by influential people and common saying of the time. I discovered I was drawn to it when for my yearly Christmas book, I got a book of a list of obituaries and epitaphs. This book cemented my love for quotes. My understanding is based in my fascination of why do we do what we do. Often arbitrary rules decide our lives. These rules may be awkward in our time but if they were always awkward, then why did people pick them? If they were not awkward at the time of creation, was changed to make them awkward and how was it like back then. Self-learning is both the use of history to look back at past generations but also looking back at what you did and trying to make yourself better. These three aspects of my life and finding a job that fit them all was starting to become an impossible job.
I was starting to think I needed to change my strategy until my first day of class in Ms. Loans World History I class. This class was one of the first classes I started wanting to go and hoping school would not be canceled. I mean she was a great teacher but on occasion she would just go off on a tangent what one topic she liked that we did not have to know for the SOLs. I really liked this about Ms. Loan because I could see myself doing this and have been known to do this. The other major factor of why I loved this class is that the final was about 400 questions but you only had to answer 100. Since the questions were about every different subject and civilization we learned that year, for the final all you had to do was study your favorite couple of time periods and answer those questions. This made me both love history and teaching. I discovered that history was not just knowing certain facts about one subject area but knowing information about all the areas and sometimes focusing on what you find interesting. In the teaching aspect, this is the first time the teacher personalized the testing for each student in a way. I remember answering about 380 of the 400 questions and getting 368 correct. I answered so many questions, because I just loved the idea and thought that was the best way to show my appreciation of it. One other piece of Ms. Loan’s class also peaked my interest, a quotation by Thomas Jefferson placed on a wall in her class. The quote went “Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.” This quote sent me on another journey that ended in my next history class, why would a person we know as a government official and 3rd president of the US not want government.
I discovered in my 10th grade World History II taught by Mrs. Riggan that not all teachers are good teachers. Mrs. Riggan by my limited standards, was not a good teacher. I did learn in her class that with my effort and interest I gained in Ms. Loans class that I was great at history. Mrs. Riggan gave a review before test that was based from jeopardy. I excelled at it and discovered that I had certain talents that helped me with my history influence. I was a fast reader that lead me to always read the reading that were given, a good listener that helped me learn the most from lecture based classes, a competent debater to get people to see my way of thinking in jeopardy, and a desire to learn both history and just more in general.
My first AP History teacher was Mr. Wauldron for AP US History. Mr. Wauldron was a great teacher that shared Ms. Loan’s enthusiasm for his subject. Wauldron was also good at expanding debates because of both the smaller class and more studious students that filled his class. These debates helped me both understand the subject material better but also helped me put it to practical use in papers easier. In his class, I learned that there were many ways to look at history and his personal view was that of cause and effect. This reinvigorated my love of history because I could look back at what I learned and see how his view gave a fuller picture of the past. One aspect of Mr. Wauldron’s class that I did not like was his large distrust of quotes. This discovery at fist made me think something was wrong but I came to the realization that we both at the same end goal but our paths took us to different places and started at different points.
Mr. Dennis, my last social studies teacher of my high school career gave me my specialization in history I enjoy the most. Mr. Dennis was my AP US Government teacher that helped me fall in love with political history. Mr. Dennis was a self-labeled independent but a big supporter of the Republican Party. Mr. Dennis taught how the levels of government both are designed to work and how they bypass these rules. This discovery of how laws are decided and court rulings affect the county. This class gave me a great respect of how political history affects both the large and small and how better understanding of the real workings of government can help you understand the news we hear daily from Washington D.C.
All this lead me to be a history major but before I decided on it and the job of a teacher I thought best to try and see if I really like it. So, my senior year I took the opportunity to be a teacher’s assistant for the AP US history now taught by Ms. Riggan. In this role I graded chapter summaries, test, and quizzes to relieve the burden from Ms. Riggan. I also sent more time with Ms. Riggan outside of the classroom and discovered she was a great person who knew a lot about history. With all this information, I gained of four years and some experience, I discovered a point of where my interest, skills, and knowledge intersected. This intersection was history and how it could be taught to latter generations. To end it “The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.”
 John Lennon, Digital Image. Pinterest. Accessed September 3, 2017. https://www.pinterest.com/pin/149322543868242854/?lp=true
 Thomas Jefferson, Digital Image. WordPress. Published September 8, 2014. Accessed September 3, 2017. https://yunchiey.wordpress.com/2014/09/08/my-thoughts-on-jeffersons-quote-about-newspapers-and-government/
 Albert Einstein, Digital Image. Pinterest. Acessed September 3, 2017. https://www.pinterest.com/pin/302304193714150453/