In thinking of your own history, what do you take from it and what have you left behind?
That’s a good question. I’ve honestly never thought about that sort of thing.
I’ve definitely found an appreciation for family history throughout my life. My mother is a genealogist, so we know a lot about our family history. We’ve found a lot of our family are immigrants, whether from a long time ago, or more recently. I think from that, I’ve just sort of taken that even the most simple stories … you know you don’t have to be a politician or, you know, a great hero to have an impactful life, or have interesting stories that will be passed down through the family.
In your mother’s work, has she uncovered anything that you’ve found cool about your genealogy?
Got a lot of really interesting people. Supposedly, one of our ancestors was the son of a train robber who was then adopted by the town sheriff. Also, supposedly there’s a distant relationship to Davy Crockett.
How has your family impacted who you are?
My father and his family have definitely had an impact on my love of knowledge. There’s a strong tradition in the family of going to college, of doing something useful, of trying to gather as much knowledge as you can. My mother … her side of the family is a lot about knowing family history and appreciating your family. And also trying to do what’s best for you as a person, not necessarily what other people think is best for you.
My mother paid her way through her associate’s degree to become an electrician. So she was the first one in her family to go to college in her family.
That’s exciting. Do you have any siblings?
I have a younger sister.
Okay. That’s cool. What year are you here?
I’m a freshman.
Cool. How’s it going?
I’m enjoying it! Definitely enjoying a lot of history classes. That’s actually going to be my major, so …
Oh nice. That’s awesome. I’m assuming somewhat inspired by your family.
Where do you want to go with your knowledge? What do you want to do with your knowledge that’s so important to you?
Um, I’d like to be able to share what I know. As someone who really enjoys history and knowing the finer details of people’s lives, my favorite part of history is understanding people as human beings rather than just looking at events. I’d like to, kind of, share that with the rest of the world in some way. Try to get people to understand, specifically the founding fathers, not as gods who created America, but as actual, regular people.
Is that something that you’ve come to understand through your own education, or is that a through that is also from other people?
It’s partially from my own research into their personal histories, but also heavily influenced by my mother’s genealogy work. Since a young age, I’ve understood that history’s not just stories — it’s people.
Has there been somebody in history that you used to look at as a god or a story and then they became more human to you?
I think the person who I see in the most human sense would be James Monroe. Before doing research into him, I didn’t really know anything about him, so I didn’t necessarily see him as, like, a god, but I saw him as just a name behind the Monroe Doctrine. I never knew anything past just that name. But then, the more I did research into him, the more human he became with his relationship with Thomas Jefferson and James Madison and also to LaFayette and that sort of thing.
What are you up to other than history here? Or is it all history all day every day?
Right now it’s sort of all history all the time. I also enjoy writing. I’m part of the creative writing club.
How has William and Mary been for you as a place to, like, grow in your knowledge? Can you speak to that?
I have really enjoyed my classes so far. Specifically one of the history classes I took last semester I really enjoyed. It was American history to 1877. And the professor really took a look at the events from a human perspective because he would talk about the different social changes and remind us that it was a time when people had different beliefs and they were all still human even though we may not agree with them anymore. We still have something to learn from them.
How would you describe yourself as a person in terms of personality?
Um, quiet, shy. But, I think with a strong set of beliefs about, I guess, humans in general. And the fact that everyone’s different and that everyone deserves to be understood, rather than just looking at someone’s surface level.
When you describe yourself as shy, that doesn’t minimize how much power you have, which is cool. Because you have a lot of strong ideas and that’s important.
If you had to give advice to a large group of people, what would that be?
I guess my advice would be to just … don’t be so quick to judge. I think even if you don’t fundamentally agree with someone, their opinion still has some sort of merit and you should listen to it whether or not you take it to heart. There’s always some merit to listening to dissenting opinions.
I like that. Sweet. Thank you.