A Passion for History: National History Day

National History Day is a competition for middle and high schoolers, created to ensure that future generations of students stay interested in history education. Entries in this competition are entirely student-created, from the choice of topic, to primary and secondary research, to analysis and relation to an annual theme. What I’ve learned from the process has been applicable to a myriad of aspects of my life.

This year, I created a historical documentary entitled Obstruction of Justice: The Constitutional Legacy of Nixon’s Leadership in Watergate and made it to the finals round (top-nine entries in its category) of the NHD California competition.

History comes alive for me through National History Day, and I’m sure many other NHD participants would agree with me in an instant. To compare NHD and a history class would be like comparing reading a travel guide about Paris and a trip to Paris. They’re incomparable. NHD changed my life in every aspect imaginable, even outside of school.

First and foremost, National History Day ignited in me an appreciation for all of those from our past. Each individual shaped history, whether or not they are remembered in our history textbooks.

NHD improved my social skills. As a result of conducting numerous primary and secondary interviews, I’ve become more comfortable with speaking to people in professional situations, a skill I know I will need when I enter the workforce.

NHD reinforced my belief that your hardest work leads to the achievements people pride the most. Some of the work I pride in the most from throughout educational career are my NHD entries, because they showcase some of my hardest work.

Lastly, NHD has encouraged me to continue pursuing my deepest interests. I participate in NHD year after year because I enjoy learning about history. In addition, studying so much political history for my documentary has inspired me to consider the legal field as a career.

Every SHC teacher I’ve had has encouraged me to pursue my passion for history. SHC teachers have even graciously devoted time to helping me throughout NHD. Mr. Standley, for example, allowed me to interview him about his knowledge of civics and the current implications of Watergate outside of class as a part of my research process. The support I’ve received from SHC for NHD is beyond anything I could’ve asked for.

Being a fourth-year competitor, I am familiar with the NHD process, yet NHD never fails to teach me something new. Learning takes on an entirely different meaning when you personally choose to make the most out of your experience. National History Day has allowed me to have this experience.

NHD Emily Tam 2

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