Beginning in January 2016, Lecturer Mylynka Kilgore Cardona (History and Women’s Studies) will join the Texas General Land Office as a map archivist. It is a job the May 2015 transatlantic history PhD graduate has been preparing for over the past six years.
“It’s all the things I love to do,” Cardona said. “It’s all my favorite parts about academia: researching, educating, and public speaking. I will be using all the skills I acquired while a graduate student here at UTA.”
As Map Archivist, Cardona will have access to nearly 3.5 million documents and 45,000 maps in the General Land Office’s Archives and Records division, the oldest map dating back to 1561. Cardona said she will be working on opportunities for the state’s high school and college students to access and engage the GLO’s collections whenever Texas history courses are taught.
“The GLO currently has outreach programs for Texas fourth and seventh graders,” she said, “but I think we’re missing out on opportunities to connect with secondary and post-secondary students.”
GLO officials already have a handful of projects for her to work on when she starts in January, including collaborating on a map exhibit at the Witte Museum in San Antonio, helping to organize a second map exhibit for the Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin and working on a map-centric Twitter campaign.
Cardona feels her conference networking experiences while at UTA enabled her to secure her new position. As a new graduate student, she volunteered with the Texas Map Society, later becoming a full member. At their recent October meeting, Cardona gave a presentation on some of her research on gender and mapping of nineteenth-century Africa; the Director of Archives of the GLO was in attendance. She said her relationships with her dissertation advisor, Imre Demhardt, and other History faculty prompted her application for the state job.
Cardona is also an example of doctoral students who look beyond teaching and university scholarship for career options. For the past several years, the graduate studies program within the College of Liberal Arts has encouraged students earning terminal degrees to consider career alternatives to academics.
“It’s helpful to know there’s not just one track,” Cardona said. “If you’re open to exploring outside of academia, you see there are a lot of options for jobs using the skills you honed as a graduate student.”