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Major Moment: History with Helen Ehrlich '24

Hometown: Reston, VA
"Even if you think you know exactly what you want to do in the future, be open to a variety of different paths."

"Even if you think you know exactly what you want to do in the future, be open to a variety of different paths."

Helen (pictured center) is a leader on campus; she is co-editor-in-chief of the Bi-Co News, co-president of the Concert Series within Self Governance Association, President of Bryn Mawr Democrats, and has a radio show on WHRC (currently on pause for the semester.) She is also a leader in Jewish student life and a member of quiz bowl. Although initially Helen believed she would declare a political science major, she followed her interests to the history department, and now holds a leadership role for a major she had not initially planned on.   

What is your major and how did you first become interested in it?  

I am a history major, and now a history major representative! I started taking history courses right when I got to college, since I loved my history classes in high school so much. My IB history teachers were very formative and encouraging for me, and I had a number of historical interests that related to my intended minor at the time (political science). 

Did you enter college knowing what you wanted to major in? How have the classes you’ve taken at BMC either confirmed your interest in the major or surprised you with a new interest? 

I came into college thinking I had everything figured out. I decided I would be a political science major when I was in elementary school and had no interest in changing that. I would make jokes about how I wasn’t following the Bryn Mawr path, since (I thought) I immediately knew what I wanted to study. As I took more history courses, I found myself drawn to the discipline and enjoying the history courses I was taking. I realized that I felt passionate about doing a capstone in history, as a senior, and that’s the department where I wanted to be taking the most classes! In the last few weeks of my sophomore year, I switched my major to history. 

Favorite class you’ve taken for your major? Favorite memory? Teacher?  

My favorite history class has to be Professor Sharon Ulman’s History of Leisure and Social Class, which was focused on tourism and baseball! It was such an engaging class, and I learned a great deal about the history of the United States relationship with tourism and with baseball. It ultimately inspired my current capstone, which is about the relationship between Philadelphia and the history of sports. 

Professor Sharon Ulman has been an important person in my academic journey at Bryn Mawr, as has Professor Ignacio Gallup-Diaz. He is so accomplished, but he is never intimidating or exclusionary. He is such a welcoming and warm person who made my quick transition into being a history major feel seamless. 

What experiential learning opportunities have you had with your major?  

In the History of Leisure and Social Class, we visited Citizen’s Bank Park. It was an incredible experience (even as a Washington Nationals fan)! We got to go into the dugout, walk on the field, tour the stadium and talk to people who work behind the scenes (including a Bryn Mawr alum!) in areas of business I’m interested in pursuing. What led me to declare as a history major was the tour my class took with Beyond the Bell, a company owned by a Haverford alumna. I even work with them now because of the experience! 

How has choosing this major shaped your post-graduation plans?   

Declaring as a history major is allowing me to graduate a year early, develop a podcast capstone and use creative methods of research. Having these opportunities has allowed me to pursue a more business-centered post-grad path, even while studying the humanities. I’m currently applying to grad school for marketing and receiving job offers in that field, as well as public relations. 

What advice would you give a first year on the process of declaring a major?

Even if you think you know exactly what you want to do in the future, be open to a variety of different paths. Being in any major from Bryn Mawr is a valuable experience, and you can use your liberal arts education in myriad ways. Knowing how to think critically and research deeply is an important skill that extends beyond your four years at Bryn Mawr and whichever major you select. 

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