Edie Hunter is a full-time, university employee as well as an MA student.
Tell us about yourself. Where are you from? How did you get here?
I’m not really “from” anywhere – we moved many times when I was a kid, so I can say I’m a Hoosier by birth but lived in So Flo as a teen, escaped from the west side of Boone as a young adult, and now a proud citizen of Ames. I received a Bachelors in 1998 from ISU then went to work outside of History, but found my way back when I returned to the University as an accountant in 2016.
What questions do you want to pursue while you’re at Iowa State?
My area of focus is 20th Century social and cultural history so my research has been all over the place within that focus. I tend toward local history (Ames, central Iowa, Middle West) and I’ve written on subjects from the evolution of Psychology as a discipline at land grant universities, “town vs gown” anxieties revealed during two somewhat related murders in Ames in the late 1960s, and the changing shifts in power during a local involuntary land annexation case in the 1950s. For my master’s thesis, I’m examining the removal of war memorials during World War II scrap metal drives in the Middle West and elsewhere and exploring how this reflects changes in memory and commemoration during the early 20th Century.
What do you want to do with your degree?
I qualify for tuition reimbursement as an employee of the University – but only for one class a semester. This means I’m now on my third of four years earning a Masters, but the silver lining there is I can dedicate full attention to whatever that class may be. But now that I’ve had several papers accepted at various conferences, received two grants (albeit very small ones), and had an article published this fall, that makes me take this pursuit more seriously. I’ve never had the urge to teach, but being an accountant with a History PhD might give me an advantage in the non-academic job market. I can see a government or public history career out there possibly.
What advice would you give your colleagues and/or prospective students?
Maybe just to impart a bit of wisdom I’ve learned while in the program (this may be common knowledge, but I needed to learn it all). First, please don’t think you need to write Race and Reunion or Nature’s Metropolis before you put your work out there. Maybe you have research that’s a work-in-progress and needs polish, but that shouldn’t stop you from submitting a conference proposal or serving on a panel. Even if the work isn’t something you will pursue later, it’s good to get used to presenting and getting your name out there in your area of specialization. In other words, don’t just go to a conference, be in the conference.
Also, find and apply for grants. There are so many out there and if you spin your proposal just right, you never know what might happen. And along those same lines – take advantage of the grant writing courses and the writing resources we have available! I was a good writer when I came into the program, but I’m an even better writer now for having done so.
Finally, GET INVOLVED! Come to (or join) the RATE lectures and presentations, GSH meetings, or whatever else is offered by the department. This program is only as good as its members and we need everyone to participate! Bring your ideas and your experience to the program. And, if nothing else, your participation always looks good on a CV.