KHS Graduate Student Day Follow-Up and Looking Forward

Amanda L. Higgins, associate editor, Register of the Kentucky Historical Society; Scholarly Research Fellowship Program coordinator

Participants prepare to tour museum storage in their behind-the-scenes tour.
Participants prepare to tour museum storage in their behind-the-scenes tour.

Weather couldn’t stop the first KHS Graduate Student Day in January, although snow delayed it by a week. From our viewpoint and that of the participants, this day—designed to enhance graduate students’ experiences, help prepare them for their future, and help grow their institutions’ regional connections in the academic world—was a resounding success.

Why? Here’s one participant’s perspective: the organization of the sessions was “perfect. Being placed in a group with someone who is at the same point in their graduate school career was very helpful!”

Students from Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Marshall University, the University of Cincinnati and the University of Kentucky spent the day with KHS staff and professors from Eastern Kentucky University and the University of Kentucky honing historical skills.

The morning paper workshop was the highlight of the event for participants. They received critical feedback and substantive suggestions on their writing for two hours. Professors provided historiographical, grammatical and argument-based suggestions. KHS staff helped to push them to think more deeply about their topics, alerted them to new avenues of research (especially in KHS collections), and discussed the dissertation and publication processes. In our post-event survey, one participant noted the morning session was great because the student “received lots of great advice about how to condense and focus the piece as a publishable article.”

After the paper workshop, students, faculty and KHS staff enjoyed lunch at the Old State Capitol—a state architectural and historical treasure—and had a behind-the-scenes tour of the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History.

KHS staff showed participants many of the artifacts and manuscript collections that were mentioned in the morning sessions and told them about the work KHS does on a daily basis. For the remainder of the afternoon, students worked on interviewing skills, dossier prep and making the most of historical conferences. The interviewing session was a hit.

“Even though there was low pressure,” one student said, “it is jarring to find yourself interviewing for your dream job! That wakeup call will definitely prepare me for my future job search.”

KHS is thrilled at the success of the event and is busy making plans for a second Graduate Student Day in September. We hope to include more students and faculty from the area and build on the feedback we received from participants in the inaugural Graduate Student Day. Stay tuned for registration information!

Chronicle

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