BA in History

Autumn Bergen, 2020

Autumn Bergen

How did you decide on the history major?

My parents have always been very interested in history, and being homeschooled nearly my entire life, trips to museums and historical sites were a major part of my curriculum. Because of that, I’ve always had a passion for it and deciding to pursue history was a very easy decision for me.

Are you minoring or double majoring in anything else? If so, how do the two work together – or separately?

I am concentrating in public history and minoring in art and visual technology. I chose art as a minor because it is my second strongest passion in life, and I feel that college is a perfect opportunity to pursue all of your passions. If my art experience helps my career at some point in my life, that would be amazing. If not, I am happy to have the experience and happy memories.

What have you learned in a history class that really surprised you/changed your perspective?

This is a very difficult question for me, because I believe that every history class has changed my perspective. Studying history has affected deeply how I view the world. Now, when I look around, I see the impacts of the past in how our society runs today, and how the choices we make today affect our future. World War II and the Civil War are two of my favorite periods of American history to study because I can still see the changes those events created in the present.

Tell us about your dream occupation...

My dream is to work in a museum, specifically with exhibit design. I love how museums engage you visually, audibly, and sensorially with history, art, and science. I think people tend to react to learning a new subject with much more excitement and interest when it is presented that way. I want to be a part of that impact, that moment in people’s lives when they feel the wonder of learning something new.

Have you had any internships? Or interesting jobs or volunteer experience? Tell us about it/them.

My first internship was at the Fairfax County Historic Courthouse and Archives. It feels like time traveling to the past when you look at inky fingerprints on a piece of paper older than your great-grandparents. My project was re-indexing road petitions. It was amazing to see the hand-drawn plats. One of the things I will never forget about that experience was seeing an original copy of George Washington’s will!

My second internship was at historic Gunston Hall, which is the estate of George Mason. The team at Gunston Hall is amazing, and I worked on so many projects with them - from creating the item labels for their museum exhibit on the women of Gunston Hall, to setting the table in the dining room of the mansion with George Mason’s original silverware for a film shoot. I learned so much from this experience that I will always be grateful for.

Any accomplishments you’re proud of? Opportunities you’ve taken advantage of? Brag a little!

I am very proud of the fact that I am likely to graduate cum laude, as long as there are no senior year surprises! I also won a gold medal in Women’s Foil for the Fencing Club in 2017, which was an exciting accomplishment for me.

Tell us something people would be surprised to know about you.

I was a competitive fencer for seven years, and I took two years of singing lessons and performed in multiple recitals. Also I have a Dungeons & Dragons group that plays together every week; I am very geeky, and it is something I take pride in!