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Love of history leads senior to museum career

Feb 17, 2022
A woman stands between shelves in a library
A woman stands between shelves in a library

KOKOMO, Ind. – Madi Guffey’s fascination with the ancient world goes all the way back to when she was five years old and completed a kindergarten graduation project about the mummification process.

“Someone gave me a book about it, and I thought it was absolutely fascinating,” she said. “It led me to read more about the ancient world, to learn more about Greece, Rome, and Egypt. I’ve always loved learning about history and digging deeper into it.”

This fascination with history led her to Indiana University Kokomo, where she graduates in May with a degree in history and political science. Her original plan was to become a history teacher, but as she considered how trips to the Children’s Museum of Indianapolis influenced her, she changed her career path.

She’s now considering graduate school to prepare to share history in a different way, as a museum curator.

“The Children’s Museum would be a great place for me,” said Guffey, recalling dragging her parents through a visiting exhibit about ancient Egypt, as well as the ancient China section.

“I know how kids think, and I know that not all of them can learn in a classroom setting. In a museum, I can help them get interested in stuff they didn’t know about,” she said.

She’s especially enjoyed classes with Peter Sposato, associate professor of history, because of his focus on ancient history, and Andy Tuholski, visiting lecturer in political science, for the interactive nature of his classes.

“It’s more discussion and simulation than lecture, and he encourages people to have different opinions from each other, and from him,” she said of Tuholski’s classes. “He makes his classroom a safe place to have and discuss different opinions, without judgment.”

Tuholski said Guffey is a class leader, who is inquisitive, creative, passionate, and supportive of her classmates.

“Madi seeks out opportunities to lead in projects and simulations, often working through complex policy challenges and adjusting strategy accordingly when necessary,” he said. “These kinds of critical thinking skills and adaptability will serve her well far beyond the classroom. She is a joy to have in class and I’m excited to see what the future holds for her.”

She chose IU Kokomo because she knew of other students who had positive experiences on campus.

“I really liked the small class sizes,” she said. “I was able to have more questions answered, with faculty who could be more focused on me because they had small numbers, and classes were more of a discussion than a lecture. It gave me more confidence in what I want to do.”

Guffey is researching graduate schools, with plans to earn a master’s degree and possibly continue into a Ph.D. program, digging deeper into ancient history.

“Studying ancient history has been the dream since I was a kid. That part hasn’t changed,” she said.

 Education is KEY at Indiana University Kokomo.

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