Admissions requirements to Hillsdale College in the late 19th century included an understanding of Greek and Latin equal to that of current upper-level classics students. It’s just one of the fascinating facts Katie Hillery found while researching her senior project.
Hillery, who is a double major in classics and history, presented her project in the main floor of the library on Monday afternoon. While a senior project is not required for the major, Hillery decided to do a museum studies display case.
Professor of History Dave Stewart advised Hillery over the last few months as she worked on the project.
“I’m doing this separate from either of my majors,” Hillery said. “It’s an interdisciplinary senior project. There is no track in museum studies offered here at Hillsdale. Dr. Stewart does a lot of work with individual students.”
Hillery’s work differed from a senior thesis.
“A thesis implies that it’s a written project,” Stewart said. “We don’t use the word thesis because she’s not making an argument. It’s not a 20, 30, 40 page paper. This project automatically conjures up a different image in most people’s minds.”
Hillery created a museum exhibit detailing the evolution of the classics department at Hillsdale and the utility of an education in the classics.
“It seems like it’d be pretty easy, just throw objects in a case,” Hillery said. “It’s actually really hard because you see in 3D but think in 2D. It’s hard to figure out how to fill up the spaces.”
Standing before her display, she discussed in detail each artifact and its significance. Hillery titled her project, “Classics Beyond the Classroom: Assessing the Modern Relevance of Studying the Ancient World.”
Senior Christos Giannakopoulos said he found Hillery’s explanation of the relevance of the classics particularly interesting.
“I was impressed with how people with classics degrees do completely different things,” Giannakopoulos said, citing a point in the presentation where Hillery discussed famous people with classics degrees. (Sigmund Freud and Vince Lombardi were among the crew) “It helped me realize that good writing, thinking outside the box, and logic development are things classics teach through Greek and Latin. The way these classes are taught are really essential.”
Hillery said she wanted to explain her reasoning behind her major of choice. ‘
“When I tell people I’m a classics major, the two questions I get are ‘What is that?’ and ‘Why?’” Hillery said. “People don’t really understand it. I decided I would put together a senior project and answer all the questions people have for me.”
Hillery has always been interested in the ancient world. When she was a kid, she would check out either “Magic Treehouse” books or “Eyewitness” picture books from the library.
“I was just very fascinated with the mystery of these people’s lives that were so different,” Hillery said. “I’m a classics major in a nutshell because I’m just very interested in these people who lived in such an advanced way considering that it was so many thousands of years ago.”
After graduating, Hillery plans to pursue a career in museum studies.
“I would love to work with a museum that has an antiquities department and do exhibit design,” Hillery said. “I’m also open to maybe working with a graduate classics library and working with their special collections. Ideally, I would like to do something like this where I can work hands on with classics.”