My name is Natalie Griffitts and I am presently a junior at the University of Mary Washington. This is my first semester at UMW, previously I attended Germanna Community College where I received my Associates in K-8 Education. I am looking forward to the next four years at UMW, where I plan to receive my Bachelors in History before moving on to my Masters in Education. While my journey has been quite non-traditional I have been inspired by many professors and students along the way and look forward to doing the same for my future students. Upon being licensed to teach history I hope to teach middle school in a city with a high poverty rate. Those are the students I am passionate about getting excited and not just to learn history but to love to learn. Unlike most of my fellow majors I have not always loved history, but having grown up in the historical city of Fredericksburg, Virginia, it was impossible to avoid the history living around me. Furthermore, the reason I chose history is because it taps into so many disciplines and the professors that inspired me most were also historians, but with focuses across so many things that I could not tell you what my own is because they made me love it all.
My interest in history is founded in questions. There is a never ending abundance of questions to be asked and mine started in a western civilization course where I found my love of politics while studying the foundation of democracy in Greece. Then, an American history course pushed me to question why hashtag movements are growing and if these movements truly could heal longstanding turmoil. Course after course, my love of history grew, along with lasting relationships with my professors who saw within me an ability to link the past and present, history and science, and history and literature. Whether there was a debate about the White Chapel murders or we were marching through the Fredericksburg battlefields for hands on learning, I would not have known what to major in without them or had the drive to pursue UMW’s Teacher Education Program. As a non-traditional student, I felt obligated to simply obtain a degree and find satisfaction in the workforce, regardless of my passions. Obviously, both UMW and my professors at Germanna had bigger plans for me.
Though I do not have all the answers, I know that I am passionate about learning and that remains a passion I need to share. Sometimes, it would be easier to just be a good listener and an avid reader; after all, these are things history needs to be preserved. However, I like to think that I am going to make a difference and that if I ask the right questions I can motivate my students. That was all it took for me, passion creating a ripple effect that would move well beyond a classroom. While the only thing I am certain of is that teaching and history are my future, I know that I can be proud of striving to be like my mentors and that I am setting a strong example for my future students by being the first in my family to pursue higher education. While I currently find every facet of history interesting, I am optimistic that in my next few years I will find my place in the ever growing spheres of history. Until then, I plan to eagerly absorb all the information I can, my students can only benefit from that.