Hearing from alumni is like a portal to the future for UFV students. When people who graduated from the same program come back to share their stories, it opens up a world of potential for current students.
That’s why the Alumni Engagement team works with other departments to organize programming that brings alumni and students together, such as the recent What to do with your History Degree panel.
“I found out about planning through one of these kinds of sessions,” says Lisa Grant, a UFV history graduate from 2004. “We had someone come in and talk about post-secondary education and they talked about community planning.”
This moment is a pivotal one for Grant, who went on to Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia after graduating from UFV to complete a Master of Planning degree. She now works at the Regional District of Nanaimo, first in Planning and Development and now in Development and Emergency Services.
Grant was one of three alumni speakers who came back to UFV to share their experiences with current history students for What to do with your History Degree. The program was organized by the Association of History students, in conjunction with the UFV Alumni Engagement team, with support from the UFV Alumni Association.
Tricia Taylor (BA ’10) and Alex Parkinson (BA ’18) filled out the panel with a range of expertise and careers.
Taylor, who works with Abbotsford Community Foundation as executive assistant and student awards program coordinator, shared how she came into her history degree through circumstance. She began in the sciences and ended up taking one of Barbara Messamore’s history classes “as a lark,” but it opened her to a world she loves.
Thanks to the guidance of one of her history professors, Taylor was recommended to work with the Reach Gallery Museum and Archive, then moved to work with local politician Darryl Plecas.
Taylor spoke at length about how her history degree prepared her to work with sensitive social and cultural matters.
“When we’re dealing with complex and sensitive subjects, we can approach them with compassion,” says Taylor.
Taylor also encouraged students to volunteer while taking courses at UFV. Her volunteering, including with the Association of History Students, helped open many doors for her.
“Volunteering gives you a glimpse of what you can do,” she says.
Alex Parkinson is a corporate lawyer with RDM LLP in Abbotsford.
“Law is a very academic pursuit, making history a useful degree,” says Parkinson. “People with an arts degree tend to excel more in the area of critical thinking.”
He shared how, when he was completing his bachelor’s degree at UFV, he was working on a project for a class on historiography, discussing the philosophy of history. He constructed a method for deciding true history that matched more with law and court protocols than with history. It was his professor at the time that pointed this out and put him down a path towards law.
Parkinson then went on to share how building a case in law is very similar to any research paper for a history class.
“Doing research in law is all the same kind of analysis that you are doing when you are writing a history paper,” he says.
Students had the opportunity to interact with the speakers during the event and afterwards. It’s these opportunities that help students find success after graduation, and allow them to explore different options for their degree while they complete it.
For future opportunities to connect with experiential learning, the UFV Alumni Engagement team is also supporting UFV’s Centre for Experiential and Career Education in November for Career Month. To learn more about these offerings, you can find them on our events page here: https://alumni.ufv.ca/events/