Arts & Humanities
Bachelor of Arts in History
Archaeological Field Tech
Ashley Eyeington graduated with bachelor’s degrees in history and archaeology from the University of North Texas (UNT) in 2010. Eyeington said she has been interested in ancient history and archaeology since she was a child, and that interest has led her to being an archaeologist with SWCA Environmental Consultants in Houston. She said she enjoys her job because she gets to do a fair amount of travelling and meet a lot of different people. In addition, the skills she acquired during her undergraduate studies help her do her current job well.
Why did you choose your major?
I always really liked history. I started out in anthropology, but they didn’t have the kind of classes I was looking for. I really wanted to study ancient cultures, and there was a really good teacher in the program that specialized in ancient history, so I switched programs. You can really do a lot with history. You can do that as a background in many different fields, like anthropology or archaeology. I still use my history classes in what I’m doing today.
I did archaeology because I’m really interested in ancient history, and ancient history relies a lot more on what kind of artifacts you can find and less on written evidence. I always wanted to be an archaeologist since I was a little kid, and it may have been because of dinosaurs, although that has nothing to do with archaeology. I’ve also always liked the idea of being the first person to find something that no one else has seen for a thousand years.
What did you like about the experience? What could have been better?
It’s pretty flexible. They’ve got a lot of things to choose from. In the art history program at UNT, you get to specialize in European, American, or others, plus you can specialize in Asian studies. You can take any kind of class you want, and they work together, so the flexibility of it is really nice. I like lectures, and history is mainly a lecture class, so the teacher gets up and tells you about an event. And I’ve always enjoyed that — the storytelling of history.
I wish they would have brought in the choices of majoring in something else [to the non-art history tracks]. You had to choose between majoring in American or European history because they didn’t have any specialized history majors. I specialized in European history, but I would have liked to have done Middle Eastern history. I took the three or four classes they had, but they didn’t have enough to be its own major.
How has it impacted your career?
Even though I specialized in European history, I had to take some U.S. history classes. I also worked in a historical museum in Dallas, and the history classes really helped in that job. With my archaeology job, because I’m so new to the field, I don’t have to do any report writing. But I do help out with the daily journals, and it has definitely helped me become a better writer and keep track of details. You do so much writing as a history major; it definitely has helped me to give them a better understanding of what’s going on.
What skills from your degree do you still use?
Definitely all of my report writing and research skills, even though with my museum job, they usually give us the information they want us to present. But I have the ability to look [up that information myself] if I want or need more information. Even though it’s not required for my job, it helps me do my job better.
What advice would you give prospective students?
Learn the materials instead of memorizing it. It’s really easy for history students to memorize dates and facts. Most history tests are essay and short answer, so as long as you can remember the facts, you can do well on the tests. But a lot of that stuff is better to retain, because it’ll help you understand things that are happening. There are also programs for students, not just in the honors college, where you can write essays and present them in essay form. I didn’t do something like that, but I definitely wish I did.
There are many things you can get involved in, whether itís a historical society or something else. If you’re going to do anything with history, a lot of things that you’re going to end up in will require you to write reports or do research. It’s good to get a start on that in your undergraduate years. If you’re going to continue on into graduate school or get your Ph.D., you’re going to need those skills to be able to articulate yourself so everyone will be able to understand you, and not just your teacher.