BA in History

Georgina Pena, 2016

Georgina Pena

Why did you choose history as a major?

I knew I wanted to go into history since I was in high school. Although I was interested in history in general, I found the era of the American Revolution fascinating. I enrolled as a history major in a community college in Georgia where I tried to take as many American history classes as possible. I never imagined that one day I would be living so close to the nation’s capital, or that I would attend a large research university. Although I’ve worked very hard to reach my goals, I’ve been lucky to have incredible educators throughout my life that have inspired and supported me.   

What was your career path after graduation?

As an undergrad, I was accepted into the History accelerated master’s program at GMU. I did a summer internship at the Circuit Court’s Historic Records Center in Fairfax where I fell in love with the archive. I was convinced that I wanted to do museum work before the internship, but everything changed for me when I had the opportunity to see all the pages of George Washington’s will in person. After receiving my B.A. and M.A., I worked on a project for Mount Vernon’s education department, but I always kept in touch with the archivists at HRC. I was very excited when I received an offer to work on a project for the records center. I’ve been working at the Historic Records Center as an archive’s assistant since. 

How do you think your history major at Mason prepared you for your career?

Everything at Mason prepared me for the career I have now. I remember spending time at the library with Dr. Oberle looking through various databases to find sources for research projects or spending entire class periods analyzing primary sources with Dr. Zagarri and Dr. Kierner. Well, now I read primary sources every day! The Historic Records Center houses the court records for Fairfax County from 1742 to around 1930. I spend my days digitizing, processing, and re-processing historic wills, deeds, term papers, etc. We often use various databases to do more in depth research for patrons, so I often rely on my research skills.

Any advice you’d like to give current Mason students?

Don’t get discouraged! Don’t give up! You will encounter many obstacles, but there are brighter days ahead. Also, look for an internship. The history department can put you in contact with incredible repositories that offer exciting internships. You never know what a summer internship can lead to!