This story began last summer. I was a junior without any career goals; I lacked drive and direction. I was more than upset that I had gone through several majors and none of them felt right. It came to the point that I absolutely had to choose a major. After working hard all summer, I decided to take a trip from Utah to Georgia with two of my friends. Just in case you don’t know how long that is, it’s roughly 2,000 miles and about a 30-hour drive. The drive started as a vacation and ultimately ended up shaping my entire future.
During the week, my friends and I wanted something to do while my family was at work. We looked for something to do, but it was the middle of the afternoon on a weekday in Middle Georgia. I was hoping to find a Civil War reenactment to keep us entertained; unfortunately the reenactments don’t happen everyday. After that I remembered someone mentioning an aviation museum. Our options were limited. It was decided-we were going to the museum.
To be honest, I wasn’t expecting much out of it. I thought that it would be like the majority of the other museum that I’ve visited-boring and barren. I was wrong.
As we pulled into the parking lot I was astonished. The museum was massive. My optimism continued to grow as I walked through the doors of the Eagle Building. There was so much to see. The exhibits were engaging and fun! As we were about to leave, we were informed there were three more hangars to look at.
The Scott hangar was our next stop. This Hangar was even better than the first. There were planes as far as the eye could see. My enthusiasm grew as we went from one exhibit to the next. I slowly remembered what it felt like when my mother took me to museums as a child; I remembered that feeling of curiosity mixed with excitement. It was when I was exploring the “Down to Earth” exhibit that it clicked. Suddenly it all made sense. I loved history; it was one thing that didn’t get old for me (no pun intended). I was going to major in history.
At first, I experienced a lot of opposition from those who felt that teaching high school was the only thing that I could accomplish with a history degree. That is not the case. I have narrowed it down to two possible career choices: 1. Study museology and work in a museum or, 2. become a history professor. Currently I want to become a professor.
I have since decided that I would like to get my master’s degree in public history and then a Ph.D. in a related field. I have also considered a degree with a strong emphasis in American History/
I currently study at Brigham Young University. They like for their students to get real world experiences through internships. Like many majors, the history major requires an internship. I needed to find a place that fueled my passion for history and of course the Museum of Aviation was the most obvious choice. I was able to go back to the place that started it all. I got to help future generations learn to love the past. Maybe something I’ve done will help someone who lacks direction, like my past self.
My experience at the museum was wonderful. My love of American history increased as I learned about aviation. I learned what it feels like to work in a museum. I’ve been able to go from a clueless junior in college to a senior with a plan. The internship was a crucial part of my plan. It helped me develop some of the skills that I need for my future career.
This may sound a bit odd, but my future started when I walked into that exhibit. I find it astonishing that looking into the past can actually help us find our future. It sounds cheesy, but it’s true. People learn in many different ways. Not everyone can get the most out of a topic by merely reading about it; they must have some experience with it to understand it. I am definitely one of those people. I love this museum because you get to experience history. This realization helped me decide that I want to be the person that makes history engaging for people. I want to be that professor that helps her students see that history is more than just the past; it’s something that impacts our future. I want them to see that those famous historical figures are more than faces in a book. They are people that can inspire and teach us valuable lessons long after they’re gone.
Caity Hungate was an intern at the museum May-June 2013