Anna Duong

Plan II/History

Sophomore year transported me from a world of piano keys and Italian arias to a world of primary documents and historic artifacts. I changed my major from Vocal Performance to History and even added a Medieval Studies minor and Museum Studies certificate! Change is never easy, but having the Dedman community’s support made adjusting to life in a brand new major less isolating.

In the fall, I took Dr. Cheryl Kaufman’s Medieval Material Culture class, which sparked my love for storytelling through objects. My final project on the Bourges Cathedral and French stained glass windows instilled an authentic fascination with Romanesque and Gothic architecture. My spring semester in the Normandy Scholars Program re-oriented my view of history. I learned about the French Resistance, read first-hand accounts from Polish Jews in the Warsaw ghetto, watched Russian films like “Burnt by the Sun,” contemplated Roosevelt’s choices during the Second World War, and examined the rhetoric behind Hitler’s speeches. I even completed my first research project titled “Wartime Spotlights: Examining the Legacies of Kate Smith, Doris Day, and Billie Holiday,” which looked at American wartime culture through a musical lens. The challenging classroom material encouraged me to think about the importance of learning difficult history, while my research project reminded me that history is not static––it requires constant interpretation and examination.

In my personal life, I tried my best to avoid academic burnout. I said no to extracurricular opportunities that left me feeling unfulfilled and instead participated in activities that energized me. I transcribed historical documents for the Civil War and Reconstruction Governors of Mississippi Project. I wrote blog articles on what it’s like to navigate pandemic life for a New-York-based start-up company. I continued taking voice lessons with my professor Dr. Cynthia Morrow, who helped me realize that music will always be a key component of my life. I also volunteered at the Mississippi Civil Rights and History Museum, which led to my current position as an Education and Exhibits intern.

As I reflect on the varied experiences of my sophomore year, I am filled with an immense gratitude towards both the Dedman family and Dedman community. One of my freshman year professors told me, “there is simply not enough time to live all the lives we would like to live.” Yet, somehow––with the support of the people in this program––I feel like I have the opportunity to live a little bit of a different life each day as I pursue new classes, people, and interests. Moving into junior year, I am looking forward to further exploring my passions for music, history, and museums. But most of all, I’m excited to see everyone in person!