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NEWS & EVENTS

Alumni Spotlight Interviews

Penelope Muse Abernathy

Penelope Muse Abernathy, B.A, 1973

Penelope Muse Abernathy is the Knight Chair of Journalism and Digital Media Economics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. After graduating from UNCG, she went on to earn an M.B.A. and an M.S. from Columbia University. Dr. Emily J. Levine, career liaison for the department, interviewed her in 2016.

  1. When did you first develop an interest in history?

    From my mother, a junior high school social studies/language arts teacher and graduate of UNCG, 1939. Plus, the history professors at UNCG were amazing storytellers. I honestly looked forward to every lecture in every history class I took.

  2. What do you value most about your history degree?

    As Winston Churchill once said, "The farther backward you look, the farther forward you can see." From my days at UNCG, I developed a lifelong passion for the perspective that history can give you — and continue to read books and listen to history lectures regularly. In the past month, I have listened to a series of lectures on Spain in 1492 and the lasting significance of Machiavelli. I also incorporate world and U.S. history into the upper-level and graduate courses (Digital Media Economics and Behavior, and Leadership in a Time of Change) that I regularly teach in the School of Media and Journalism at UNC-CH.

  3. How would you say that you have used the skills and knowledge you developed as a history major in your career? These can be in your day-to-day activities or in long-term planning and/or strategizing your professional path.

    History gives a unique perspective on leadership through the ages, and I have recalled those lessons on a daily basis as I pursued a career in journalism, rising from cub reporter to an executive at the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Harvard Business Review. My study of history influenced my own aspirations (personal and professional), as well as the ethics that I honed and refined as I journeyed through life.

  4. What advice would you give a graduating history major setting out in today's job market?

    Be open to the art of possibility.

  5. What advice would you give a first year student considering majoring in history?

    Consider double majoring or minoring in English or Comparative Literature. It will vastly enrich your appreciation of your history courses.

  6. Is there anything else you would like to share with our students about your passion for history and/ or its relationship to your professional experience?

    In 2009 I delivered the History Department Commencement speech. For a full copy click here: Timeless Lessons in Leadership.


Laura Malloy

Laura G. Malloy, M.A. History, 2013

Laura Malloy is currently the historian for the 58th Special Operations Wing at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico. Before she graduated from UNCG with her M.A. in U.S. History, she earned her B.A. in history at UNCG with a minor in art. Dr. Emily J. Levine, career liaison for the department, interviewed her in 2016.

  1. When did you first develop an interest in history?

    I have always loved history, so I would have to say my interest developed as a young child. I used to joke with many in my class that it was in the Stone Age.

  2. What do you value most about your history degree?

    The unique opportunities available and where my degree has taken me.

  3. How would you say that you have used the skills and knowledge you developed as a history major in your career? These can be in your day-to-day activities or in long-term planning and/or strategizing your professional path.

    I use the knowledge, skills, and abilities developed during my time at UNCG every day in my work as the Wing Historian for the 58th Special Operations Wing at Kirtland Air Force Base. I research data, conduct oral histories, safe guard the official records and primary documents and apply it to written histories for the United States Air Force. Additionally, I create specific art products for the wing, manage the Air-park, and maintain the specific artifacts and memorabilia for the wing.

  4. What advice would you give a graduating history major setting out in today's job market?

    Prepare early. Before you graduate start looking at different positions and have patience. Keep pushing forward in where you want to go. Sometimes you may have to settle for a "job" during the short term but always keep your eye on your long term goals and your "career."

  5. What advice would you give a first year student considering majoring in history?

    Carefully consider if this is what you want to do. Be prepared for disappointment but do not let that define you. It is hard work but if you set your mind to success, then you will achieve it.

Charlotte Holder Clinger, B.A, 1965

Charlotte Holder Clinger

Charlotte Holder Clinger is a retired Air Force colonel currently living in Fairfax, Virginia. After graduating from UNCG, she went on to earn an M.A. in Public Administration from the University of Northern Colorado and Education/Teaching Certification from the University of the Americas in Mexico City, Mexico. She is still active with historical organizations. Dr. Emily J. Levine, career liaison for the department, interviewed her in 2015.

  1. When did you first develop an interest in history?

    I enjoyed history from grammar school onto high school and college. I knew I wanted to be a history major.

  2. What do you value most about your history degree?

    I value the historical perspective it has given me regarding both current events and the history which has played a pivotal role in the paths of nations and people.

  3. How would you say that you have used the skills and knowledge you developed as a history major in your career? These can be in your day-to-day activities or in long-term planning and/or strategizing your professional path.

    When I joined the United States Air Force, I specifically asked for Intelligence because I knew that my background as a history major would be a good fit for me. It was. I stayed in Intelligence my entire military career (retired as a Colonel) and also used my degree and the experience of my military Intelligence background to pursue my civilian profession as an analyst and supervisor with the Central Intelligence Agency.

  4. What advice would you give a graduating history major setting out in today's job market?

    Do not think that teaching is the only avenue for a history major. As I have noted, I used my history degree for advancement in both the military and as a government civilian. Also, there are private organizations which specialize in Intelligence which value knowledge in certain areas. It also helps to obtain at least a reading capability in the language of the area which you emphasize during your studies.

  5. What advice would you give a first year student considering majoring in history?

    Consider what you want as a career. If you wish to teach or write, history is a great major. If you wish to go into government or the private sector in the area of Intelligence, history is a great major.

  6. Is there anything else you would like to share with our students about your passion for history and/ or its relationship to your professional experience?

    When I retired, I did not leave history behind. I am a charter member of a historical society in North Carolina (Beech Mountain) and am involved in the Women Veterans Historical Project at UNCG. I also am active in a genealogical and historical society and several military veterans' organizations which are steeped in military history as well as current events. In addition, I became the managing editor of a magazine with a heavy emphasis on history for four years. It was a perfect fit. History is a lifelong pursuit.


Gina Marie Hurley, B.A, English/History, 2011

Charlotte Holder Clinger

Gina Marie Hurley is currently a graduate fellow and part-time instructor in English at Yale University. After graduating from UNCG, she earned her M.A. in English at Purdue University. Now she is a Ph.D. student in Medieval Studies/Literature at Yale University. Dr. Emily J. Levine, career liaison for the department, interviewed her in 2015.

  1. When did you first develop an interest in history?

    I've essentially been interested in history since I was a child. I loved to read, and I quickly developed a fondness for historical biographies.

  2. What do you value most about your history degree?

    Especially through Anne Barton's research seminar, I learned how to effectively evaluate and analyze a variety of primary and secondary texts. Historical research demands a flexibility of mind and creativity of approach that my history professors helped me develop. During my time there, my professors (particularly Asa Eger, Ms. Barton, and Lisa Tolbert) taught me how to make my literary interests an integral part of my approach to history, and those valuable lessons have shaped my path as an academic.

  3. How would you say that you have used the skills and knowledge you developed as a history major in your career? These can be in your day-to-day activities or in long-term planning and/or strategizing your professional path.

    As a literary scholar working in a highly interdisciplinary field, I use the research skills I developed at UNCG on a daily basis. To understand medieval literature, you must have some understanding of medieval history, and much of my research continues to exhibit this historical mindedness.

  4. What advice would you give a graduating history major setting out in today's job market?

    Be creative and open-minded! Humanities degrees are often so widely applicable that it can be difficult to "sell" your skills in such a competitive market. Think deeply about the qualities and skills you bring to the table and how they might connect to different careers in surprising and valuable ways.

  5. What advice would you give a first year student considering majoring in history?

    Consider doing a wide variety of internships and volunteer activities during your time in college to gain an understanding of how your training can be useful in different industries. Above all, take the time to connect with your professors—they really do care about your future and your interests, and they are invaluable sources of advice and encouragement.

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