Helen Porter - Graduation Speech
Good morning, and thank you all for being here and celebrating with us! My name is
Helen Porter, and I am graduating with a major in history with a concentration in Asia
and the Islamic World.
When I declared as a history major I discovered something a bit disconcerting. It turns
out that when you tell a lot of people you’re studying history, you get this response:
(blank face, mouth ajar) “Ohhhhh … what can you do with that?” Sound familiar? There
is a concept that studying history doesn’t prepare you for anything. That it’s an
unemployable, useless degree. The number of unemployment jokes we hear is truly
I first entered the history department in fall quarter of my sophomore year, when I
declared a major in European history. Then I changed my mind and switched my
concentration to Asia. Then to Africa and the Americas. Then I had an existential crisis
and finally settled on Asia in winter quarter of this year.
What has continually impressed