Trip Brings History Alive for Students

The group poses for a photo next to the James and Dolley Madison statue at Montpelier.

News Story: May 14, 2015

Members of Sacred Heart University’s History department recently took their third annual trip—this year to Charlottesville, Va.—with 10 enthusiastic history majors. Professor Julie Mujic organized the event and was accompanied by Professor Jennifer McLaughlin. McLaughlin described the trip as “a relentless pursuit of history.” In only three days, the group was able to fit in many educational activities such as visits to James Madison’s home, Appomattox Courthouse National Historic Park, Monticello and a conference on the Civil War.

Mujic enjoyed planning this excursion to further immerse students in learning about history outside the classroom. “The students were up and ready to go at 7:30 every morning, excited to soak in history all day. They demonstrated a level of maturity and enthusiasm for learning that kept us on the go from the moment we left campus until we returned from a long drive home.”

The group’s first stop was Montpelier, President James Madison’s home, where they toured the house and learned of its history as a former plantation farmhouse. The journey continued the following day to Appomattox, a national historical park where General Robert E. Lee signed his surrender to General Ulysses S. Grant 150 years earlier. On April 9, Sacred Heart participated in a commemoration of the surrender by ringing the chapel bells on campus.

Students also visited Monticello, Thomas Jefferson’s home, and the University of Virginia to attend an academic conference about the ending of the Civil War. Winifred Maloney ’15 relished this experience and says, “The area that most interests me about history is the American Civil War, so this was such a great experience for me to see where events took place. Going on this trip reaffirmed my love for history and gave me a peek at what I'll be doing after I complete my graduate career.”

Overall, it was a very successful trip, in part because of the students’ excitement to learn. “They were ideal representatives of the university,” says Mujic. “The trip kept us all marveling at inventions, landscapes and the challenges of historic preservation. It’s hard to express how impressive the students are and how well they represent our college and University.”