The History department at Millersville University hosted an alumni panel on campus Monday to discuss their career journey and success since graduating.
The panel, which took place in the Ford Atrium in McComsey Hall, provided an opportunity for eight alumni of Millersville’s History and Social Studies Education programs to return to campus to network with students and talk about their experiences as professionals after college. The event began with a reception, where students, faculty, and alumni were able to converse and introduce themselves while enjoying light refreshments, followed by the main panel presentation and discussion.
Mary Nolt, a graduate of the Master of Arts program in History, and a Social Studies teacher at Manheim Central High School served as moderator for the panel, where she asked the alumni various questions regarding their academic journey at Millersville, as well as the variety of career paths available to history students.
Ranging from the Class of 1990 to 2016, the alumni came from a variety of backgrounds, providing their unique perspectives and insight into navigating history and education as fields of work.
One of the panelists was Justin Neideigh, who graduated from MU in 2012 with his BSE in Social Studies Education. Now a Social Studies teacher at Donegal High School, he attributes many of his skills and experiences to working as a Student Ambassador while enrolled at Millersville.
“Working at the Alumni Office for Advancement involved me communicating with and giving tours to alumni and prospective donors,” explains Neideigh. “My position as an Ambassador helped me with public speaking, which is, of course, a big part of being a teacher, as well as adjusting to being quick with my feet in a fast-paced environment.”
When he ultimately got the job teaching Social Studies at Donegal High School, Neideigh beat more than 50 applicants. While the school system does not struggle in the same way as it did back then, education is still a competitive and demanding field, albeit very rewarding, Neideigh claims. Now the department chair, he reaps the benefits as an educator thanks to the experience Millersville gave him.
Sarah Alberico graduated from Millersville in 2012 with a BA in History and now works as a curator at Historic Rock Ford, a mansion in Lancaster. Her passion for history, art, and research at Millersville helped push her toward a position managing the galleries at the site.
Although Geoffrey Beers came to Millersville to pursue a career as a social studies teacher, he never expected to work closely with his alma mater for years to come. A 1996 alum of the BSE program, Beers was actively involved on campus by working at the Student Memorial Information Desk and was even a founding member of the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity. Today, he is the CEO of Student Services, Inc., which handles business and housing on campus through Student Lodging as well.
“I got started working for the info desk while in grad school and substitute teaching,” explains Beers. “I valued being involved on campus both in undergrad and while working as a grad student, and I even admit that I gained valuable skills and experience just as much through clubs and activities as I did in the classroom. I also really enjoyed teaching and the leadership experience I gained, as it helped me get my position as operations manager at SSI, and now as CEO.”
Another panelist was Brian Pearson, the youngest of the alumni present at the event. A 2016 graduate of the BSE Social Studies Education program, Pearson, now a teacher at Warwick High School, attributes Millersville as the source of a multitude of professional development opportunities for him as a student.
“While at MU, I was involved in Phi Alpha Theta, which is the History Honor Society here on campus, and it helped me so much to be career ready,” explains Pearson. “We learned about several topics in history, which fueled my passion for the subject while going to conferences and presenting helped to develop my public speaking and research skills. I would have had a tougher time working as a teacher without it.”
The alumni panel was one of several opportunities the History department offered to students to boost networking and interest in the program, and their faculty and staff anticipate hosting similar events in the near future.