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Careers in History: Non-Profit Administration

Ashley King ('10)

Administrative Assistant, Pennsylvania

Ashley King on an Irish ship
Why did you choose to major in history and how did you choose your minor?

I graduated in 2010 with a history/political science major and Latin minor. I chose to major in history because I have always been fascinated by history. The earliest I remember loving history was when I was 7 years old and I visited historic WIlliamsburg. Pretty much ever since then I have loved history class, history books, movies etc. My high school AP American history teacher was also amazing: she had a way of making history come alive and was one of the key reasons I went on to study history in college. The Latin minor began as a language requirement, and then because so many of the additional classes needed for a minor tied so closely to history, I decided to just finish out the minor.

How does your history major prepare you for what you are doing now?

I am currently working as the Administrative Assistant farm equipment dealership in my area. I can't say that I am using history directly, but I have found that the writing skills have been a great help in many of the things I work on daily.

I also volunteer as the administrative assistant for a start-up non-profit called North Star Initiative which is working to open a home for women who have escaped from sex trafficking. Most of my work here has been researching the issues and writing various articles related to it as well as preparing presentations based on the research so in this area I have found my background in history and political science to be very helpful. I live in Lancaster, PA which has many ties to the Undergorund Railroad since we are so close to the Mason Dixon Line so North Star has been drawing connections between the historical underground railroad in aiding escaped slaves and the current slave trade, which takes advantage of the extensive highway system in PA to facilitate trade with other states. So our message has been to reclaim Pennsylvania's highways as a beacon of hope. This has given me an opportunity to continue some historical research and present it in a way that addresses issues we face as a nation today.

Beginning in fall 2013, I will be attending Trinity College in Dublin Ireland to get my masters in Modern Irish History. I am hoping to continue on from there and get my Ph.D in history in the future.

The history department at Calvin taught me critical thinking and the ability to see both sides of an issue, rather than viewing the world as black and white. It taught me to see people, not as victims, but as individuals who act with purpose and reason, even if we don't always understand what drives them. But by realizing this, we can begin to understand what makes people tick...and that is how we can discuss and address social, cultural and political differences and issues that come up. This has a huge impact on how I view the world and it makes me much more capable of relating to people from all backgrounds and walks of life which is a valuable trait in both my professional and personal life.

What advice do you have for current students or those thinking of majoring in history?

I think my advice to current history students is not to be discouraged if you don't want to teach history. Even without directly doing historical research each day, I have found the writing and communication skills I learned from studying history to be very helpful in my job, and in other projects I have worked on. While the career path  may not be as clear as say a teaching or nursing degree, there is something excited about having so many options wide open in the future, and the skills you learn will help you no matter where you end up or what you end up doing.

 

Lauren deVos Sikkema ('08)

YWCA Database Coordinator

I graduated in 2008 with a major in history and a minor in archaeology. I went on to do an MA in cultural heritage management at the University of York in England. I am now working at the YWCA as a special events and database coordinator.

I chose to major in history because I love learning about the past and how it relates to modern events. I chose archaeology because I'm fascinated by the physical representations of history. That's why I went on to study cultural heritage, because I was intrigued by the politics and human rights involved with ownership of history.

My time at Calvin prepared me in a lot of ways. Having a Christ-centered moral worldview lends very easily to human rights and empowerment. The YWCA is all about empowering women and eliminating racism. Also, my education prepared me for any job because it was so varied and comprehensive. Part of why I loved the history department is because all of my professors were great at drawing connections between history and current events. It really helped me to understance some of what's going on in the world.

I don't know specifics of my future plans, but I know that I will want to continue my non-profit work and hopefully continue fighting for human rights.

Lauren De Vos Sikkema in York