This fall I took a monumental step in forwarding my education and career – in the spring of 2014 I was notified that I had been accepted into UAF’s Interdisciplinary Ph.D. program under the approved heading of Museum Studies, with a committee made up of some academic greats at UAF: Dr. Mary Ehrlander (my chair), Dr. Terrence Cole, Dr. Aldona Jonaitis, and Dr. Mike Koskey. Rounding out the committee with an old friend and great colleague, Dr. Holly Cusack McVeigh from Indiana University – Purdue University Indianapolis.
My first class – NORS 461/661 History of Alaska – was taught by Dr. Terrence Cole. What a great way to jump back into the classroom and into a topic that I had never formally studied, despite the fact that I had cared for thousands of historical objects and curated two special exhibitions that were historical in nature. After completing the class and reading hundreds (thousands?) of pages in our textbooks, articles, and additional books for the graduate portion of the class, I came to the conclusion that I love Alaska history and the project that I have concocted for this Ph.D. is going to be compelling and valuable and interesting and full of incredible stories. I can’t wait!
However… I will be undertaking this adventure while continuing to work full-time at the Museum, sooooo, it’s a long-term project with a completion goal of 2020 (a nice round number). If all goes as planned, I’ll have that Ph.D. before I turn 50 – which is also a nice round number.
The most important thing that I’ve realized is that I love my job more than ever before. I have a supportive network of people who are willing to contribute their ideas, stories, and perspectives to the mystery I’m attempting to uncover. I hope I can do them justice, and that through this undertaking, I can add something to our understanding of Alaska’s museums and help us all know more about the direction we want to go in the future.