Andrew Palmer, from Rockville, Md. is a junior majoring in history who plans to go into student affairs in higher education.
Andrew always wanted to major in history, but wasn't sure exactly where he wanted to go with his history degree at first. As he says, “History sort of just felt right. It was always my favorite class throughout high school. History also involves a ton of reading and writing—two of my favorite things. In writing a paper, you get a lot of creative freedom and control over the finished project. I like that when someone writes a paper, you can really hear their voice throughout it and know that they put a lot of effort into it.”
When he got to IUP, Andrew considered majoring in social studies education or human resources, but quickly switched to a BA in History. While he liked the idea of helping students, he didn’t think that teaching was for him. Instead, he decided to go into student affairs so he could help students more directly and personally. For him, student affairs is the perfect combination of education and human resources.
Two education internships in his senior year of high school helped Andrew figure out what he wanted to do with his future. In the fall of his senior year, he spent 8–10 hours a week interning with a sixth-grade social studies class and, in the spring, he did a 6–8 hour/week internship in human resources with the American Society of Plant Biologists. These experiences were invaluable in helping him decide on his future path.
Andrew’s goal is to get his MA in Student Affairs in Higher Education. Eventually, he wants to go into student housing or student leadership. For him, history has been an excellent gateway into student affairs. According to Andrew, “History teaches you to write and think critically—and even sometimes out of the box. Student affairs frequently involves helping people solve problems; a lot of the times, you need to look at different points of view, which history teaches you to do!” Further, “In history, you can't just decide to write a paper and do it. It takes tons of research; you have to understand the whole issue before you can even delve into the nitty-gritty. You learn to think about the big picture and how that applies to history in general.” These are all skills that are useful for student affairs (or many career tracks).
While at IUP, Andrew has been active in student affairs. He has been involved in the residence hall councils in his buildings and is currently a community assistant. The residence hall councils mainly try to create fun programs for residents, but they are also important for listening to student concerns and helping create positive change within the IUP community. As a community assistant, Andrew has about 50 residents on his floor. This is incredibly helpful for his goal of getting involved in student affairs—as he says, “College is sort of this weird time in between kid and adult; I like that I can be there to help make that transition as smooth as possible.”
Andrew advises future history majors to take as many classes in as many different areas of history as possible: “Not only do you learn about new and exciting things, you learn about diverse groups of people which will help you in your future career.” Further, “If given a choice—always opt to write the paper. It seems like more work, BUT through writing the paper, you will gain a much deeper understanding of a topic.”