Senior Katie Hillery pre­sented her senior
project in history at Mossey Library
Monday afternoon. Regan Meyer | Col­legian

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.”