After four long years, I am so proud to have graduated from Slippery Rock University with a bachelor’s degree in history. The past eight semesters have been full of highs and lows. For every night of tears there were twice as many filled with laughter. There were many sleepless nights – some in the library, others counting down to paper deadlines, and plenty spent with friends trying to keep our eyes open until the breakfast restaurant opened in the morning at five. I am so grateful for the memories made, friends that I have gained, and the countless ways in which I have grown.
I have learned so much about myself and the world at Slippery Rock University. In the past few years my confidence has blossomed and my university has given me a plethora of opportunities to show it. I have been lucky enough to be a leader in some amazing clubs, meet and learn from guest speakers, and understand others as I traveled to other countries. I am grateful that my interest in art history turned into a passion and I discovered an enthusiasm for all of the ways in which anthropology intersected with my studies. Through my classes and clubs I also became more aware of the world around me. My professors encouraged me to have discussions about unfair housing policies in America, European medieval marriage beliefs, and ethical dilemmas of modern archaeology. I am grateful to my friends that these conversations continued from the classroom to our living rooms.
While I have already faced some of the questions to come about my degree (“What can you even do with history anyway?” “So you’re going to be a teacher, right?”), majoring in history was perhaps the best decision I made at Slippery Rock. I value my history degree for more than just my broadened knowledge of American urban spaces and Egyptian dynasties. My professors at Slippery Rock taught me to value critical thinking in all aspects of my life and helped me learn how to communicate my thoughts in organized and effective ways. I am thankful that not only did my professors teach me historic concepts, but they also presented us with primary documents and expected us to analyze and form our own conclusions from those documents. I am more prepared to head out into the world of fake news and alternative facts having been prepared by my professors to do my own research and analyze information. I know that these are skills I will utilize throughout my personal and professional life.
Further, they provided me with many opportunities to express myself and taught me how to do so compellingly. The most common teaching tool was the research paper but I am also grateful for the speeches, blog posts, and occasional tweets to the past (thanks Dr. Ford). I know moving forward that I will be capable of advocating for myself and others because I was taught and encouraged to express my thoughts and opinions. Looking back, I’m not sure that first semester freshman Erin would recognize me now and for that I am grateful to my professors and friends. I hope the sun continues to shine at Slippery Rock (a few more days a year wouldn’t hurt though) but especially when I am back to visit.