Hillary Ford '19
Where are you originally from?
I am originally from Long Island; my parents actually met at Stony Brook in the 1970s.
Why did you choose to study at Stony Brook?
I am a nontraditional student at SBU. Originally I attended Barnard College of Columbia University, but I withdrew and spent several years working as a freelance copy editor for several university presses. When I decided to complete my BA I chose Stony Brook because it's an acclaimed, highly rated state school, and although it's known for STEM it also has a strong History Department with award-winning faculty.
Why did you choose to major in History?
It was only after leaving Barnard and cultivating my own academic interests that I became interested in history, so returning to school in my late 20s gave me a chance to hone in on what I was really interested in studying, religion (particularly sects) in 18th- and 19th-century America.
What was one of your favorite classes and why?
The most interesting course I took at SBU was Dancing Through History with Professor April Masten. The combination of rigorous study of historical texts and the lived experience of actually performing the dances provided a unique lens through which to view historical practices. It was also thanks to this class that I discovered my own deep interest in Shaker religious practice and beliefs.
What are some of your greatest accomplishments?
With the guidance of Professor Masten, I went on to complete an Honors Project about the formation and codification of Shaker practices in the early 19th century. I have received several department scholarships during my time at Stony Brook, including the Cynthia Mitchell Scholarship, a Gardiner Foundation Scholarship, and the Catherine Wang Award.
What are you plans for after graduation?
Post-graduation I am moving to Chicago and hoping to find work in publishing or at a museum or historical organization.