Shea Hendry


  • B.A. in History and Classics (2015)
  • Minor in Art and Architecture History
  • Visited Nepal and Tibet for a study abroad trip (2014) and then volunteered at a refugee camp in Idomeni, Greece (2015)
  • Completing her MA in History and MS in Library and Information Science from Simmons University (2022)
  • 2022 recipient of the prestigious Gates-Cambridge Scholarship, Miami’s first-ever alumni winner
  • Plans to obtain a PhD in History at the University of Cambridge in Cambridge, England

My Profession

"I’m a full-time graduate student in the History and Library and Information Science dual-masters program at Simmons University in Boston, and I’m set to graduate later this year. Beyond that, I work at the John G. Wolbach Library, an astrophysics research library, as the collections assistant. We primarily support the researchers at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, and I work specifically with our historical materials.

"I came into my masters program after working outside academia for a few years, which included time spent volunteering abroad in several different countries.  After volunteering specifically at a refugee camp in Greece, I became very interested in archiving, specifically with displaced or refugee populations, and historical records of displacement. 

"I spent close to a month doing crisis relief work near the railway station in Idomeni, a village near the Greece-Macedonia border, that had become a temporary refugee camp — particularly after Macedonia closed its borders in 2015. For various reasons there had been a lot of upset before we arrived, so there was significant need to assist some of the longer-term organizations with clothing and food distribution. A couple years later, I ended up working in similar situations just outside Paris and later in Lebanon.

"I decided to go back to graduate school to continue on to my PhD, so I applied for the Gates-Cambridge Scholarship. Through the application process, after learning more about the scholarship and what the GC selection committee prioritized in their applicants, I felt that my interests fit well within what they were looking for."

My Miami Experiences

"When I was an undergraduate at Miami writing my honors senior thesis, I looked at classical discourse in the Antebellum South — essentially how southern intellectuals conceptualized ancient civilizations like Athens, Sparta, and Rome to articulate their own political opinions before and during the American Civil War.

"Focusing specifically on allusions to Sparta, I examined how Confederate use of Spartan allegory changed from the pre-war period to post-war period. I was looking at that as a way to analyze Confederate identity and how it evolved based on how they understood their cultural touchstones or reference points.

"I also studied abroad as a Miami student. In June 2014, I went to Nepal with a group of students led by Mark Walsh, a professor in the Department of Kinesiology. We crossed the Chinese border north into Tibet to do a two-week trek to the northern base camp of Mt. Everest, which was an incredible experience. It was easily the wildest thing I could have imagined doing in my life up to that point, and in a lot of ways, it felt like the whole world opened up! Spending the night in view of Mt. Everest after a few weeks of long, hard days can really push you out of your comfort zone in the best way — and I realized I was capable of more than I had anticipated. 

"I did a lot more traveling after I graduated from Miami, and I don’t think I would have felt as confident in pursuing those opportunities without that initial trip. It was really significant for what I chose to do after graduation!"

Miami and the Liberal Arts

"I came to graduate school because I was interested in its archives program and wanted to be an archivist. However, I don’t think I would have known what an archivist was if I hadn’t been a History major, hadn’t worked with primary sources, or hadn't had the opportunity to go to an archive to conduct my own research.

"I learned how to do historical work at Miami, meaning that I gained exposure to all the careers there are surrounding history. What I do in terms of my day-to-day work these days is very much an extension of history-based work. I still do a lot of research. I use primary sources, and I consult secondary sources. It’s all very direct as far as how it transitioned, but Miami was useful in exploring my discipline broadly to understand how to transition my interests into a professional environment."

Advice to Students

"When I applied to the Gates-Cambridge Scholarship, I had no concept of how competitive it was going to be because I had never done anything like this before. The more I learned about the scholarship, the more invested I was in the opportunity, but it also became more intimidating. The advice I got early on in the process was this: if you are interested in something, if you want something, or if you’re passionate about something, you should never self-reject. You should never be the one to say no to yourself.

"Take the time whenever possible to explore different professional opportunities and get a feel for different career fields during your time at Miami. See how the skillsets you’ve developed as a student apply outside the classroom. Ask questions and keep an open mind. Your skills are incredibly marketable and important. It’s just a matter of developing a sense of how you want to market yourself and what you’re looking to do, and I think that intentionality will go a long way."

[March 2022]