When I switched my major from anthropology to history early in my freshman year, I joked that it was because I'd found my cultural anthropology class to be "too relevant" and too much about the present day.
But, I realize now, history has everything to do with the present, and the skills I learned in my University of Arizona history courses continue to be essential to me both in my work and as a citizen.
I was able to pursue diverse interests through my coursework at the U of A and graduated with a history degree and three minors. My classes took field trips to local archives and historic sites, made dinner using only ingredients available to ancient Israelites, produced fired Egyptian faience tiles, analyzed the Classical origins of Art Deco design, and looked at history through the lens of Jane Austen's novels. Some of my best professors were the ones who pushed us to seek out the untold stories and share them, including my Honors thesis adviser, who continues to be a mentor and an inspiration. (Don't be like me—go to office hours more than once a semester!)
For two years following graduation, I served as an English teaching assistant in Germany through Fulbright and the Pädagogischer Austauschdienst. My history studies gave me the tools to present on American history and traditions and give context to current events in a thoughtful, nuanced way...even when my students really just wanted a straightforward, BRIEF answer! Being able to appreciate the impact of the past on the present and understand differing viewpoints made me a better traveler, too.
Today, I am working at a historic house museum, where I use my skills as a historian daily, whether I'm carrying out research, developing educational materials, or giving tours.
Studying history means thinking critically, analyzing different perspectives, evaluating sources, developing a nuanced, well-founded opinion, and presenting this opinion effectively. These skills are absolutely relevant in today's world and will serve history students well in whatever they do.