A love for stories led this soon-to-be graduate to get involved on campus

By

Rachel Bunning

Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2022 graduates.

Camp Verde, Arizona, is a relatively rural town that’s mostly known for its McDonald’s, which many people stop at on their way to Sedona. It was also the place where graduating senior Mackenzie King grew up. 

“While I would not change having grown up there, it is a place that draws you in and many people get stuck there,” King said. “I always knew that I wanted to see other parts of the world and try living in new places so that I would learn more about the world.”

She wanted to go to college, but wasn’t interested in attending the local community college for that reason. Both of her parents were educators and took her to many college campuses while she was growing up, so she knew moving to a different place for college would be an option. 

After attending the Barrett Summer Scholars program at Arizona State University for three summers, King felt like she would be happy at ASU and enrolled. She chose to double major in history and English with a concentration in linguistics and added a minor in German. 

“I am so glad I double majored,” King said. “Learning about some of the same things but from different theoretical perspectives has been not only fascinating but has helped me to not get stuck in a rut of only thinking one particular way.”

In addition to earning concurrent degrees, King became involved around campus by becoming the editor-in-chief and a staff writer for the Spellbinding Shelf, the secretary and co-founder of the Barrett Book and Tea Club and an executive editor for the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies Digital Humanities Journal. She also completed an Undergraduate Research Experience through the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies. 

“If I hadn't participated in undergraduate research I do not know where I would be today,” King said. “It is such a fun feeling to find primary and secondary sources and piece them together like a puzzle. Working closely with faculty on research projects has also been amazing and I have grown so much in seeing how the professional researchers do it.”

King was asked about her experience at ASU and had the following to say:

Question: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in? (Might be while you were at ASU or earlier.)

Answer: I have two "aha" moments. The first was when I was 12 and I was reading this silly, fictionalized diary based on Eleanor of Aquitaine and I realized how much I loved all things medieval — though of course if I were to read the diary now it would probably be riddled with inaccuracies, but it's fiction so it's OK. The second "aha" moment was when I was 15 or 16 and I was watching some historically-inspired tv show with my family and I was trying to pick apart the inaccuracies. That was when I realized that history was more than just a passion but something that I wanted to pursue as a career.

Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?

A: Oh my goodness, I have learned so much. One of the biggest things that I learned is just about working with other people effectively. Meeting and working with people who have such vastly different experiences and perspectives than myself has just been very interesting and rewarding. If I were to go over everything that I learned in a classroom this would be far too long.

Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?

A: I have learned the most from Professor Calvin Schermerhorn and Professor Hannah Barker. They have just been so helpful and have taught me so much about history, research and so many other things.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: I'm not sure that my advice would be the best advice to take, but I would say that if you are able, taking classes that pique your interest instead of what you think you "have" to take are definitely worth it.

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?

A: My favorite spot on campus are the lounges in the Barrett dorms. That is where I met many of my close friends and where we played an absurd amount of board games together.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: I will be attending University of Tennessee in Knoxville to pursue a PhD in history — medieval history in particular.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: This is a tough question and I would definitely have to think about it in much more depth. My first thought is to provide more funding for fun after-school programs like aviation, art, cooking, etc. at underfunded public schools.

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