Allison Horrocks ’09

JOB TITLE: Graduate lecturer;
2015-2016 Humanities Institute Fellow at the University of Connecticut
ORGANIZATION: University of Connecticut
LOCATION: Storrs, Connecticut
GRADUATE DEGREE: Ph.D. in Progress 

What was your first position after college? I started in the Ph.D. program in history at the University of Connecticut in 2009. I have since earned an M.A. in history and graduate certificates in women’s, gender, and sexuality studies and college instruction. In addition to serving as a teaching assistant and a lecturer at the University of Connecticut, I also have worked for the Newport Historical Society, Mystic Seaport, and The Preservation Society of Newport County since graduating.     

Has a liberal arts education helped you in shaping your career? My education has certainly helped me in the process of obtaining an advanced degree. The rigorous academic training at Trinity sets a great foundation for graduate work.

Taking part in Guided Studies, a Gateway Program [now called Humanities Gateway Program: European Cultures], and the American studies program at Trinity opened up professional possibilities I would not have considered otherwise. I entered college as a pre-medical student and left wanting to pursue a graduate degree to become a historian. In fact, my dissertation research actually is a continuation of research questions that arose in a junior seminar. The decision to become a historian in the midst of the economic downturn of 2008 was not an easy – or practical – choice. But the professors at Trinity led by example; they showed all of us that liberal arts training has tremendous value. I knew that the education I had received transcended any one trend in marketing higher education or hiring practices.   

Outside of the classroom, I think finding a fulfilling and interesting campus job is essential. I worked for the Office of Admissions for more than three years. This work gave me invaluable training for all of the jobs I’ve held since (including teaching, interpreting, writing, and public speaking).

What advice would you give to Trinity students to prepare for a position in your field? If they are considering pursuing an advanced degree, I would encourage them to think very seriously about their motivation for graduate school. A love for learning should never be discouraged, but it may not be the best impetus to begin an advanced degree. Through my graduate work and while exploring the field of museum studies, I have learned that networks are essential. Find out what networks your graduate school of choice is connected to through faculty and alumni.

What is the biggest misconception about your field? History is essentially the art of studying power. It is about so much more than memorizing facts or details. Information, in this age, is no longer special. But knowing how to read and make determinations about knowledge is a skill that needs cultivation. Studying the past is one way to approach this challenge. While there are gatekeepers and professionals in history, it is a field that everyone has access to in some way. This is what makes the field so challenging and exciting at the same time. As for history majors, I firmly believe that a degree is entirely what you make of it. Learning to think is priceless.