After graduation, Kristen Pace ’13 found her way home. She traveled back to her hometown of Travelers Rest, SC (near Greenville, SC) to work for the Upcountry History Museum as the Community Engagement Coordinator. But, this wasn’t in her original plan for the future. In fact, like many other recent college graduates, she wasn’t exactly sure what her future would entail.
Once Pace graduated with her history degree, with a political science minor, she continued to work as a preschool teacher and nanny. Once Kristen moved back to South Carolina after living in Eastern Germany for three months, she knew there was something else out there for her. “I had turned down two other jobs as a preschool teacher, knowing that teaching preschool wasn’t what I was supposed to be doing. In the end, I started working for the Museum, and everything has worked out far better than I had ever planned,” she says. Now, Pace still teaches, but in a different way.
How did you learn about your position? What attracted you to your position?
I initially started working at the Museum with visitor’s services, greeting guests and selling tickets at the front desk. I wanted to get my foot in the door, and eventually work my way up with whatever opportunities were presented to me. I have wanted to work in a history museum for as long as I can remember and as it turned out, my desire to volunteer quickly turned into my actual job.
Can you describe a normal day as the Community Engagement Coordinator for the Upcountry History Museum?
Every day is different. Some days are much more interactive and spent giving museum tours to children and adults. Other days I’m at my desk updating the Museum’s social media pages, writing emails, or creating a new lesson plans for one of our many exhibits. This past week I led a museum tour for 15 adults, taught a class on World War II to nearly 100 middle school students, and then helped with a large community-wide, outdoor festival.
How did your time at CofC help prepare you for your career?
My time at the College of Charleston only encouraged my passion for history, and this is largely due to the professors. They always made their subject relatable. Dr. Powers’ inherent empathy for history left the biggest impact. He not only taught history, but connected with his students. I firmly believe that connection only furthers one’s drive to learn, and I strive to use that in my job daily.
What advice would you give current students?
I encourage students to understand that nothing worthwhile is just given to you. You are far better off working your way up, and earning your place, with whatever opportunities you have been presented. Make everything an opportunity, and go for it! Failing is an inevitable part of life, but it’s ultimately your choice to decide if you will turn it into a success. If nothing else, make it a lesson where you learn not only your weaknesses, but also your strengths. And volunteer!