Sunday, March 2, 2014

Alumna Darcy Fargo is "Making History" in a Career She Loves

Darcy Fargo teaching Boy Scouts about making a newspaper.
By Darcy Fargo, B.A., History & Government, 2002
I’ve been making history since 2002.

To be clear, I’m not suggesting that I’ve done anything amazing with my life. But for the past nearly 12 years, I’ve been creating primary sources.

After graduating from Daemen in 2002 (Bachelor of Arts in History/Government with a major in English), I spent the next nine years working in various positions in the newspaper industry. I worked for The Malone Telegram in the northern-most portion of New York, and I worked for The Punxsutawney Spirit in Punxsutawney, Pa. (of Groundhog Day fame). I worked as a beat reporter, a bureau chief and a news editor. Regardless of my title, I always had some reporting duties.

A newspaper co-worker once said to me, after learning my degree is in History/Government, “do you ever wish you had pursued a career in your field? I mean, you’re a writer, but you don’t really do anything involving history.”

I almost choked on my coffee.

In college, I distinctly remember taking Historical Methods, a course focused on researching primary sources. We spent hours sifting through census records, taking oral histories, and exploring newspaper articles on microfiche. I took government courses, focused on the structure and rules of governing and legislation. I took criminal justice courses that taught me how to read and understand court rulings and the law.

As a reporter, I spent my days copying down witness/participant accounts of happenings. I spent hours in the county clerk’s office researching and printing copies of property records, judgments, liens, lawsuits and other public records to establish a “paper trail” for stories. My life was filled with criminal court and municipal meetings. And I had to make sense of it all. I was a historian. But, for the most part, I was dealing with recent history.

Currently, I’m the Senior Internal Communications Specialist for Alcoa Massena Operations, an aluminum smelter. There, I write for and design the plant newsletter, run a plant-wide television system and oversee several standing committees. Again, I’m creating primary documents.

Last year, Alcoa celebrated its 125th anniversary. Our location is the oldest still in operation. In fact, Alcoa Massena is the longest continuously operating smelter in the world. I work in a building that was commissioned 100 years ago in January.

As part of the anniversary celebration, I was tasked with compiling a special edition newsletter. I spent hours combing through old photographs and slides, and interviewing three- and four-generation Alcoa families. I had the opportunity to give a plant tour to and interview a current employee, her father (a retiree), and her grandmother, who worked in the facility during World War II. I felt like I was talking to a real Rosie the Riveter. I was interacting with history, and I got to share that experience with the remainder of the workforce (then around 1,100 employees) in written form.

My degree in History and Government has served me well. The courses I took at Daemen, and the professors who taught them, taught me to love research, analytical writing and intelligent debate (and anyone who knows me knows I love a good debate). And they gave me the skills I would need to obtain a career I love.
A degree related to history and government can take you to places you wouldn’t imagine, even a job that requires you to wear a hard hat and flame retardant clothing every once in a while.

1 comment:

Penny Messinger said...

Also see Darcy Fargo's Alumni Profile by 'The Daemen Voice' in May 2015:

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