William Paxton is a 2013 graduate of the MA program in History at VT and is currently a Social Studies Teacher/Assistant Football Coach at Fort Defiance High School in Virginia.
Q: After graduating from Virginia Tech’s M.A. program, what have you done professionally?
A: I have been a teacher at Fort Defiance and Wilson Memorial High Schools, Teaching World Geography, Psychology, VA & US History, and Dual Enrollment Western Civilizations.
Q: What is one thing that you did at Virginia Tech that aided you in your professional or academic path?
A: The fact that I was able to get such a wide range of experience in the field of History has been an enormous help. I was not only able to learn a lot about a wide variety of topics, but also numerous skills and jobs. The knowledge of applying research and historical methodology, combined with the experience as an assistant in the classroom and lecture hall have given me a great foundation to build my own knowledge and skills.
Q: What advice would you give current or future students wanting to pursue a path similar to yours?
A: Don’t be afraid to try new experiences. Whether taking a class that may not directly apply to your area of expertise or working as a teacher’s/research assistant for someone that has a different focus then your own, you will be surprised at how much you will learn and be able to apply to your own research and career. The best way to advance and separate yourself from others is to apply new viewpoints and approaches that may come from approaching your problems from a different angle.
Q: What has been a major challenge you have encountered in your career? How have you dealt with it?
A: The job market right now is very difficult and very competitive. Don’t let this discourage you from chasing down what you want to do, but make sure that you understand how difficult it can be. Stepping stone jobs can be a path to the job you always wanted, or let you discover that there may be a new career path that you can equally enjoy.
Q: What are your plans from here?
A: I plan on continuing to teach at the high school level, but in the future may continue my studies toward a PhD in History.