Jessica Szalay, MA in History

What has been your Fresno State Experience? Jessica Szalay

My experience at Fresno State began in 2002 when I started my undergraduate degree in history, with a minor in mass communication and journalism. During that time I was a part of the Smittcamp Family Honors College. I graduated in 2006 and began the graduate program in history. Since then I have been a graduate assistant, the Editor in Chief of The Collegian, and an editor on the history graduate journal, Hindsight.

I knew I wanted the graduate school education and the graduate school experience. My family and friends, as well as my professors, supported my decision and agreed that enrolling in a graduate program would benefit me. As for history, I've been a history nerd since elementary school, so choosing history for my degree was one of the easiest decisions I've ever made. I eventually hope to pursue my Ph.D. also in history.

How are the students in your program?

It is because of the other students in the history program that I got through the program! We are all such huge support units for each other, whether it be continuing a discussion from last night's class, or sending late-night text messages to each other freaking out about the paper that's almost due. You really get to know those in class with you and they become more than just a fellow student. The students in the history program are the most intelligent and dedicated people I know, and I can only hope that I've offered just half of the support that they've offered to me over the past couple of years.

How do you balance classes, workload, job and social life?

I'd like to think that I do balance all of those aspects of my life, but there have definitely been things that have suffered as I've been in school. Luckily, I have very supportive and understanding friends, family members, professors and colleagues that have worked with my crazy schedule and have not faulted me for my desire to pursue a graduate degree. One thing I depend on to keep my schedule on track is my phone, where I schedule everything I am doing and everything I have to do. It beeps at me constantly reminding me to get to work. I also rely heavily on sticky notes. I have them EVERYWHERE to remind me of what I need to get done - don't underestimate the power of sticky notes!

Why is faculty important in your graduate program?

The history department faculty are obviously essential to the program and the classes offered. For what seems like such a small department, the backgrounds of these faculty members are extremely diverse and because of that, classes can be offered in a variety of topics. They work tirelessly to ensure that the students are receiving an education to be proud of. Just as the students have each other for support, the professors are also there to answer any questions a graduate student might have or even just hang out.

Jessica outside the library