Carmen Lyon

Job Title: 

Law Student

When I decided to major in history it was because I enjoyed history. I had always loved reading about history. From biographies and memoirs to the Titanic and Ancient Egypt – there wasn’t a historical subject I did not enjoy. I never once regretted majoring in history, even though I was repeatedly asked: “What will you do with a history degree?” I always told people that I did not have a plan and I just loved history. The matter was that simple to me.

Weeks before my graduation it hit me that I needed to decide what to do after I graduated. I had enjoyed my undergraduate program so much I had not put much thought into my post-graduate life. But, like so many other times in my life, God worked out his plan for me. I was offered a full-time position in the department at the U of A where I had my student job while in college. This position was not my dream job and I told myself I would stay a couple of years while I figured out what to do with my life. Little did I know that this process would not take one or three or even five years. The whole “figuring out what to do with my life” took almost ten years.

To some, this may sound like a waste of time and that my undergraduate degree in history did indeed hinder me. I could not see it more differently and here is why. No matter who you are and no matter what major you choose, you must learn how to work in a job after your graduate. Even those who choose more pointed career routes like medicine, accounting, or law, must learn how to work. I did not waste ten years in my university job. I spent ten years learning how to work with people of all backgrounds and educational levels, how to make mistakes and recover from them, and how to be a leader and a professional. This post-graduate decade of success I attribute to many of the skills I gained in my history program.

For example, a history program requires students to tackle a variety of subjects that are unfamiliar, complex, and sometimes confusing. This taught me to comfortably face and work through the unknown in a methodical and thoughtful manner. I have used this skill almost every day since I graduated, and it is one that I use even more so now that I am a law student working towards my J.D. at the University of Arizona.

When people ask me what my law program is like, I always tell them there is nothing to compare it to and nothing that would have prepared me for it completely. At the same time, I know that I would not have the same determination and passion if I had not majored in history. My history major taught me to read, think, write, and converse about practically anything. I applied these skills in my post-graduate work that allowed me to become a successful professional. Now, I apply both my undergraduate experiences and my professional success to obtain a law degree.

To those thinking about or currently majoring in history, I have this advice. Don’t fear the future, the job market, or what anyone will say about you or to you. Your course is your own to be determined and there is no formula for the correct amount of time in which you must succeed. I sincerely and wholeheartedly believe that as a history major you are given the best skills to be successful in any post-graduate employment or advanced degree program.

College of Social and Behavioral Sciences

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Department of History
César E. Chávez Bldg.
Main Office, Room 415 
1110 James E. Rogers Way
Tucson, AZ 85721

Tel: (520) 621-1586
Fax: (520) 621-2422