Hiram College

Garfield Scholar Alaina Seguin recaps her experiences on the Garfield Center for the Study of the American Presidency’s fall trip to points throughout Virginia rich with lessons from Thomas Jefferson.

“While on Oct. 5 at 4:50 a.m. most students were dreaming of the long weekend, scholars in the Garfield Center for the Study of the American Presidency piled into vans to head to Virginia to continue studying Thomas Jefferson.

After reading about this prominent man in American history we all had answers, but we all still had a lot of unanswered questions. We were ready to get out, get them answered and see the impact Jefferson had on Virginia and vice versa.

As a senior communication and business management major I was curious to delve into how President Jefferson’s speeches and mannerism influenced the outcomes of the issues he tackled, and how being involved in business and owning a plantation went along, or didn’t, with his views on slavery.

Over the course of the trip we chipped away at layers and contradictions to try to understand more about this man. Personally speaking, the most enlightening information on Jefferson came from getting a behind-the-scenes tour at Monticello and the opportunity to explore the whole house and visiting Colonial Williamsburg and speaking to Thomas Jefferson repriser Bill Barker. Virginia’s outdoor charm was not ignored as we also managed to fit in trips to two elaborate caves and the Natural Bridge, all of which speak to the natural beauty that Jefferson came to love.

But it’s not all business on this trips. My van provided endless entertainment for what felt at times an endless ride. I don’t think the people and memories from these trips could ever truly be replicated because they’re full of not only enlightening discourse on history and politics, but laugh-until-you-cry conversations about the most ridiculous things.

Overall, joining this program last year has helped me do what I came to Hiram do: study and learn about subjects I’m interested in but don’t necessarily want a degree in. Even with waking up at 4 a.m. I wouldn’t trade joining for anything.