My Name: Catherine McCartney
My Major: History, Technology and Society (HTS)
My Minor: Biology
My Certificate: Social Psychology
My Hometown: Sharpsburg, Georgia
I think Atlanta is a wonderful “college city” – there is never a dull day here!
From spending an afternoon at Piedmont Park, to buying the freshest produce at the DeKalb Farmer’s Market, to wandering through Little Five, to watching an away game at local hot wing restaurants, to great shopping, to little cafes and restaurants nestled into neighborhoods, to seeing a huge variety of musical acts in a variety of beautiful venues, to going to a Braves game… Atlanta has everything I could possibly need to keep myself entertained. The history major in me loves Atlanta’s long history. The city did not escape destruction during the Civil War (and fell victim to another fire in the early 20th century), so you don’t really get a feel that Atlanta is really a “historical city” like Boston or Philadelphia because the buildings are so modern. However, I still get a rush looking around Atlanta and knowing that its past is still hidden in the skyscrapers and live-work-play areas. Atlanta has a lot to offer everyone, but anyone interested in history will really appreciate it's history.
How I Discovered History at Tech
I came into Georgia Tech as a pre-med Biology major. I was pretty determined to be a doctor. In my second year, I decided to minor in history after taking Dr. Flamming’s US History survey course. In a sea of difficult classes that made me unhappy, that class was the shining light at the end of a dark tunnel. About 10 minutes into my first class of the summer (British Colonization with Dr. Foster), I knew that HTS was where I really belonged. I had never been so excited to be taking the classes at Tech. In a semester of 16 pure HTS hours, I found myself thriving for the first time in a while. My schedule was rather unconventional, as I was taking a Research Methods course that would prepare me for my Senior Seminar while taking a Senior Seminar! It was one of the best semesters I had ever had in my career at Tech. I encountered incredible support and feedback from my professors, encouraging a love for writing that had been suppressed for years.
One favorite course? I don’t know how I could possibly choose!
One of my favorites was my favorite for unconventional reasons. It was my first senior seminar – History of Travel in the Middle East. The class took a turn for the unexpected when my professor had her baby 4 months early and had to leave the class. Dr. Usselman took over the class and learned the material right along with us. We did all of the readings we had initially been assigned, but the atmosphere was one of the most interesting I’d ever experienced. We were all learning new things together, and everyone contributed new things to the discussion. The research paper I wrote for the class was the longest paper I’d written in my career as a student (23 pages), and it was on a topic I had been interested in since age 10 – British Egyptology and exploration documents as travel literature. I felt incredibly proud of myself for tying together a childhood interest with some of the most difficult concepts I’d learned. The feedback I got on that paper once again reassured me that I was doing the right thing with my life.
Another favorite class was HTS 3041 – French Revolution with Dr. Tone. I had such a great time in that class… it was a laid-back, fun environment with interesting people and an engaging professor. I learned a lot about a subject I had previously studied, I did well, and I just had a great time in every class. I can’t explain why it was so fun, but it was just an incredible class experience.
Another favorite class was HTS 3036 – 20th Century Britain with Dr. Schneer. It was my first “real” history class at Tech (essentially, my first HTS class). I have always been a huge anglophile, and learning about one of my favorite countries was always exhilarating. I will never forget that it was in this class that I realized that history was what I wanted to do with my life. Dr. Schneer was lecturing on Sir Roger Casement and the Irish Rebellion of 1916, and the story was so engrossing that I could hardly take notes because I was listening too intently. The lecture left me so moved that I was reeled further into HTS. Hearing the same story again 2 years later in Dr. Schneer’s 20th Century Europe class was equally moving. The same applies to HTS 3029 – Ancient Rome with Dr. Moore. I filled up pages and pages and pages of notes with details and stories of Rome. Every lecture was engrossing, and it was so hard to take notes when you’re that interested! My final for that class ended up being eight handwritten pages… a testament to how much information I retained from that class! I still use the information I learned from that class regularly.
Though I’ve been inspired by most of the HTS faculty, there is one professor in particular…
Dr. Flamming was my first introduction to history at Tech. I was
a weary Biology major fulfilling her state-required history class, but Dr. Flamming turned it into a completely refreshing experience. I left that semester with a new mindset to “think historically” and a new minor. Since that class, I have had three
other classes with Dr. Flamming – the most classes I have had with a single professor at Tech. Each class was more exhilarating than the previous one. Dr. Flamming’s kind words and critiques of my writing helped convinced me that I can, in fact, write well and inspired a new passion for writing historically and for my own personal gratification. He rekindled my latent love of history, for which I will be forever grateful.
The Only Catherine McCartney...
Ideally, I will be a beloved author of a wide variety of books ranging from historical fiction to horror to children’s fiction. I like to say that in my dream world, I will be the next Ken Follett or Stephen King, but my father encourages me by saying that I will be the only Catherine McCartney. After graduation, I plan to get a job (hopefully one that will play off of my HTS degree or love of reading and writing) to support myself until my writing can support me. I have my ideal home office planned out… it’s just a matter of sitting down and churning out the words! Fortunately, I keep a notebook with me at all times so I can write down any ideas that come to me… and I have quite a few brewing. It’s a lofty ambition, but I’ve been writing stories since I was 5. Despite constantly changing interests, the undercurrent of my life has always been my love of reading and writing. It would be a terrible shame if I did not pursue this life-long dream!
What advice would I give to prospective liberal arts students?
Remember that liberal arts is alive and well at Georgia Tech. Though I’d never imagined myself as a liberal arts student or a Georgia Tech student, here I am. I think my parents knew before I did that I’d end up majoring in what I truly loved, history and literature, at a school I’d dismissed as an engineering school. They never doubted that I’d end up where I am today, and I think I’ve pleasantly surprised them by accepting it with open arms. The wonderful thing about Liberal Arts at Tech, as I have already said, is that it blends so well with the heavily scientific curriculum of Tech. Liberal arts students here at Tech often stay in a little bubble, but what the rest of campus doesn’t seem to know is that we leave the bubble quite a bit! I guess we’re pretty sneaky. We’re a small part of the Tech community, but we are vibrant and growing. Liberal arts students are everywhere from the student government to many of Tech’s leadership organizations. We’re a small but powerful force! To prospective history majors, I advise you to develop your love of reading and writing. You’re going to do a lot of it here. And this last piece of advice isn’t mine, but it’s essential: “think historically.”
My name is Catherine and I am liberal arts!