When Opportunity Knocks

In my time as a history major at Messiah College, I’ve done some incredible things and I love nothing more than to reminisce on my time and experiences here. When I first began college three years ago, I was a history major who knew little about the past and was barely involved in the goings-on of the History Department. My first job at Messiah was cleaning classrooms in a science building, and I never saw my future at Messiah even touching the present. As a first semester senior, I now hold three jobs at Messiah, each one exciting and important as well as providing me with work that I actually enjoy.

The first job, History Department Work Study, I began in my sophomore year. Through this position, I am able to work alongside the professors in my department and help them with varying projects, whether that is through copying papers for their classes, or helping them with researching their next book.

In the Summer between my sophomore and junior years, I began my newest position, Digital Harrisburg Research Assistant. If you don’t know anything about Digital Harrisburg, you can read all about it here and see our final product, the map of 1900 Harrisburg, here. In the past year that I have been working on this project, we have had an incredible amount of positive responses and interest in the project as well as massive success with completing the 1900 map. This coming semester alone, we have two conference presentations and several more presentations in the works, along with two courses at Messiah that will be working with the database we have created and hopefully expand the project.

Presentation at HACC GIS Day

Presentation at HACC GIS Day

Finally, in the present school year, I began my third job, Center For Public Humanities Student Fellow. Through this position, I work alongside fellow humanities majors to promote the humanities both at Messiah and in the Harrisburg community. Each of these opportunities has been meaningful to me and has given me experiences that will help me as I approach my graduation.

Outside of my employment at Messiah, I have also had the opportunity to take some truly wonderful history classes. Some of my favorites include Joan of Arc, Nationalism and its Discontents in Modern America, and the History of American Evangelicalism. Through these classes, I have gained both factual knowledge and a better understanding of how to research and think like an historian, something that is irreplaceable and will be a great factor in my future success. In addition to these amazing classes, I’ve had the privilege of developing and working on a senior honors project.

Through this experience, I am able to focus on one topic about which I am incredibly passionate while working with one professor, who is – if this is possible – even more excited about the project than I am some days. My honors project examines the effects of post-World War II American culture on the American Organ Revival.

This project will specifically focus on Reuter opus 1148, the organ that was recently refurbished and placed in Messiah’s own High Center.

Reuter opus 1148

Reuter opus 1148

This project has allowed me to put all of my love of history and music together in one project. The project itself has given me so many opportunities for conducting oral histories, event planning, working alongside many different people from different departments and outside the Messiah community, and most importantly, researching and producing a final paper and presentation. It’s incredible to me, even now while writing this blog post, to see just how much I have done in my short time at Messiah, how much I have learned about the past, and how involved I have become in the Department. I look forward to the next year and seeing how much more is to come.

Rachel Carey is a senior history major with a minor in music and a concentration in American History. She is the History Department Work Study, Digital Harrisburg Research Assistant, Center for Public Humanities Student Fellow, and a contributor for History on the Bridge.

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