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Department of History

  • Madison Santmyer

Madison Santmyer

Senior History major Madison Santmyer attended the 2018 Presidential Sites Summit in Washington.

What made USC your college of choice?

The University of South Carolina was my top choice for college so when I was accepted, there was no other choice but to say yes to being a Gamecock! I knew that I wanted to attend a big school that had a small school feel and that’s exactly what I experienced on my first tour of the campus. I loved that it wasn’t far from my hometown of Moncks Corner, SC but I still had a sense of independence.


Why did you choose to pursue History at USC?

I chose to pursue a degree in history because I’ve always had a passion for history. Some of my earliest memories are going to all of the Smithsonian museums in Washington D.C. as well as traveling all throughout the midwest to see museums, historic landmarks, and other sites with my father. I hope to work in the museum world in some capacity after graduation, preferably in archives but would consider myself lucky to have any career in the public history field.


What has been your favorite History course thus far?

So far, my favorite History class has been Historian’s Craft with Dr. Kent Germany (HIST 300). The class is a requirement for all history majors and it basically teaches you how to think critically about our past. It also emphasizes the importance of using primary sources and secondary sources in historical research and arguments. Dr. Germany made this class so much fun and allowed us freedom to explore historical topics that we were individually interested in.


What is the most valuable thing you have learned as a History major? How has it changed your life?

I think the most valuable thing I have learned thus far as a history major is to not take things at face value. There are underlying reasons as to why a lot of things in history have happened and it’s important to not only know how something happened, but why they happened. Conceptualization is very important in history. Keeping this in mind has helped me in terms of everyday life. Everything that happens in our life, whether it’s big or small, is the result of consequences (good or bad) coming from our prior decisions.


How do you spend your time outside of the History Department?

Outside of classes, I am an undergraduate research assistant with The Papers of the Revolutionary Era Pinckney Statesmen. With this project, I have the opportunity to transcribe, research, edit, and annotate 18th century letters written to and from the historic South Carolina Pinckney family. I also work as a server at Pawley’s Front Porch in Five Points. When I’m not working or studying, I enjoy hanging out with my friends and binge watching 30 Rock on Hulu!


What are your plans for the future?

After graduation I plan on applying to as many museums as I possibly can in the Washington D.C. area but also all around the east coast. I want to work in Archives but would appreciate any position I’m offered. While working in a museum, I would love to build my own consulting business on the side where I am able to work independently for families, historical societies, or others doing documentary editing.


Favorite book:

I’m a sucker for a good mystery so my favorite book is Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll although I’m currently reading Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn and I have a feeling it may take the top spot!


Favorite Quote:

My favorite quote comes from the song “Carpet Crawlers” by Genesis: “We got to get in to get out”. To me, it means that we have to work hard and go through some trials and tribulations in order to get what we want out of life.


More info:

I’m from Moncks Corner, South Carolina and I graduated in 2015 from Berkeley High School. I grew up in Maryland, Kansas, and South Carolina. While attending USC I have been a part of some really cool organizations. During my freshman year I was the President of Women’s Quad within the Residence Hall Association. Between my freshman and sophomore year I had the most amazing experience as an orientation leader. During my sophomore year I had the pleasure of being an RM. This past summer I partook in the 47th Annual Institute for the Editing of Historical Documents where I learned more about the ins and outs of historical editing. This past August I was awarded a student scholarship to attend the Presidential Sites Summit in D.C. where I was immersed in the world of museums, historical homes, and presidential libraries. As a part of the summit, I was invited to a reception held at the White House and was able to meet President Trump and Vice President Pence as well as the First and Second Ladies of the United States. It was an experience I will never forget.


Challenge the conventional. Create the exceptional. No Limits.