Q & A with Mel Sheehan
VCU felt like the right place to me. Though this is only my first semester here with many more to come, I am honestly having the best time of my life.
Why did you decide to study history?
I’ve loved history since I was 12. Going into junior high, I was told that history was boring and I would hate the class, but that turned out to be the complete opposite. I’ve had nothing but great teachers who taught history well and could actually make it fun. My seventh grade world history teacher had us put on funny plays but educational plays for our parents. I fell in love with U.S. history the following year because of another teacher, and went on my school’s VA/DC trip. That was my first time in this area, and going to see all the museums and historical sites was absolutely phenomenal. I took APUSH my junior year of high school, which of course was intimidating at first. My teacher was amazing and somehow made the material easy to digest, and made the class overall very enjoyable. Since eighth grade, I couldn’t get Virginia out of my head, so I moved to Richmond when I was 17 and enrolled at Richard Bland College where I earned my A.S. in history.
What do you plan on doing with your degree?
It’s been my goal from the start to become a high school teacher. I want to inspire other students to get into history. I want to show them that it’s not boring if you teach it in a fun way and bring some life into it. I do agree that it can be boring, it’s a lot of facts and papers over and over again. History doesn’t have to be just that, it can be so much more, and I want to prove that point to the new generation of students. I am also doing the ‘teacher prep for historians’ minor, which will help me gain my master’s degree and prepare me for the education field.
Why did you choose VCU?
After living in Richmond for two years and constantly driving around, I got some good looks at the VCU campus and general community. It felt very welcoming to any and everyone, so I decided to apply. I wanted to get my bachelor’s in history, and VCU felt like the right place to me. Though this is only my first semester here with many more to come, I am honestly having the best time of my life. Being a student and working at the history department doing social media has opened my eyes and opened so many doors to opportunities in my education and career that I would never have thought of.
Why should students consider history as a major?
I don’t think enough people major in history due to its boring reputation. History is extremely important though, it shows us what societies have done year after year, it shows us recurring events and the evolution of humans as a society, individually and collectively. I believe that in order to understand where we are going in the future, we have to look into the past to understand patterns, past mistakes and past victories. The staff and faculty in the history department at VCU are so incredibly kind and welcoming. They’re always excited to meet a new history student and actively encourage students to step outside of their comfort zone. This department is a very safe space, with kind hearts all around. The professors cover a wide range of historical topics and areas, so there is definitely something for everyone.