Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Leadership lived: UIS history major lands job with the Papers of Abraham Lincoln


Jay Vlahon is fascinated by the life of Abraham Lincoln and believes a lot can be learned by studying the 16th president’s correspondence with others.

After graduating from Springfield’s Southeast High School, Vlahon decided to pursue his bachelor’s degree in history at the University of Illinois Springfield. The abundance of opportunities he was offered as an undergraduate left him wanting more, so he stayed at UIS for his master’s degree.

During his graduate studies, Vlahon was given the opportunity to work as a graduate assistant for the Papers of Abraham Lincoln, located as the Lincoln Presidential Library in Springfield. Vlahon gained valuable experience handling and transcribing documents and processing images.

“To be able to work in this environment, I think you have to have certain skills and knowledge and that takes a good education. Without UIS, I would not be able to work here for sure,” said Vlahon.

After he graduated from UIS in 2012, Vlahon was hired by the Papers of Abraham Lincoln to continue processing images from the national archive’s Robert Todd Lincoln Collection. Vlahon is currently working to publish the documents online.

“It will broaden accessibility to documents and also understanding of Abraham Lincoln just by being able to go online and view transcriptions and images of documents,” said Vlahon.

Vlahon credits his success to the real-work preparation he received from teaching-focused faculty members at UIS.

“Just the wealth of knowledge I gained in UIS’s history department was really great,” he said.

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