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Alumni Success Stories

At Georgia Southern, our mission is to make sure you’re ready to dig in from day one in an exciting career. With our hands-on history degree, you’ll be ready to roll up your sleeves and engage in exciting research, fieldwork and more. Here are just a few stories from our students and alumni about their firsthand experiences in our programs…

“I followed a nontraditional route to a Master of Arts in Public History, squeezing in classes in between the odd hours I worked as a television news anchor and reporter at Savannah’s NBC affiliate, WSAV. It took me eight years (from 1998 to 2006) to finish my graduate degree, but I quickly put it to use in a big way. 

“The classes in historiography and writing helped me learn how properly to conduct research and share information with other scholars. Courses in tourism and ethnography with Dr. Barbara Fertig gave me a deeper appreciation for things that were happening all around me in one of America’s premier tourist cities. In my World War II class with Dr. June Hopkins, I deepened my understanding of World War II. In Dr. Fertig’s Oral History class, I put my video interviewing skills to work producing a documentary about the Civilian Conservation Corps on Tybee Island. Dr. Christopher Hendricks’ classes in the American Revolution helped fill in the blanks about events in Savannah at the birth of our nation, and his Architectural History class—the final course before my graduation—opened my eyes to the wonders of the historic built environment in downtown Savannah. In my final year, I opted to write a traditional thesis in lieu of completing a public history project, unearthing new information about the Civil War ironclad CSS Georgia, which sank in the Savannah River in December 1864.

“Here’s how all of the classes came together to change my life: after my graduate career ended, I went on to produce more than 30 original films about Savannah history, which aired statewide on Georgia Public Broadcasting and sold thousands of copies in tourist shops through the city. These included features on Savannah’s historic homes and cemeteries as well as orientation films for the museums we studied in my classes. 

“My greatest single accomplishment was probably the hourlong documentary I produced on the recovery of the wreck of the CSS Georgia, the ship that was the focus of my masters thesis. I took my scholarship to a new level by conducting more original research on the postwar salvage of the vessel, and contributed a chapter to the official archaeological report for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. 

“In 2015, I achieved a lifelong dream of becoming a published author with the release of a coffee table book about Savannah’s historic squares, followed by a book about Savannah in the Civil War in 2017 and a guide book for the Isaiah Davenport House in 2019.  None of these things would have been possible without the classes I took and the amazing professors who worked with me one-on-one and in small groups over the years.

“Today I continue to work in public history as the Director of Public Relations and Development at a National Historic Landmark museum in Knoxville, Tennessee, and I am still producing historical documentaries, including a new video about the raising of 15 Revolutionary War-era British cannons from the Savannah River. I am in the planning stages of a new book about Savannah in Revolution. Every day, I think back with appreciation and gratitude for all the knowledge and skills that I gained in the public history program close to two decades ago.”

Michael Jordan

“The education and experiences that I gained from my time as a student at Georgia Southern University gave me the tools to continue my schooling and pursue my master’s degree. As a student in the Maritime Studies Program at East Carolina University, I use the knowledge I gained through the history department at GSU every day. From learning how to find primary and secondary sources to learning laws and regulations regarding public history to actively conducting fieldwork, Georgia Southern University offered me every skill that I would need as a historian. I gained research and leadership skills in a supportive and knowledgeable environment, which has allowed me to accomplish any task and seize any opportunity that I have been confronted with.”

Alyssa Saldivar

“I am owner/operator of Footprints of Savannah Walking Tour and share with my guests, ‘I am a Historian who gives Tours!’ Now that I have a Master in History from Georgia Southern University – Armstrong Campus. While working on the degree I traveled to Jamaica to research and create a Footprints of Kingston Tour as my project in Dr. Amy Potter’s Introduction to the Geography of Tourism. The course work in that class has added to my effectiveness as a current member of the Board of Directors of both the Savannah Chamber of Commerce and Visit Savannah. I am also more adept at research, from credible sources, from Georgia Southern University’s Digital History class.”

Vaughnette Goode-Walker

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Last updated: 5/18/2022