Blues music, history, and geography

Andrew Burns ’19 proves first-year students can do it all

Andrew Burns ’19 explored his varied interests in his first year at Gettysburg

“I chose Gettysburg because I knew I’d be surrounded by history. With people here who have such a passion for research, teaching, and writing about history—I knew I'd be in good company,” said Andrew Burns ’19.

Burns was drawn to Gettysburg because of his passion for historical research and investigation. Hailing from Portland, Oregon, Burns traveled across the country to a college where he was able to study, and be surrounded by, history.

In his first year at Gettysburg, Burns allowed his academic curiosity to take flight as he explored many different scholarly outlets, while still pursuing his primary studies as a history major. From presenting his research on blues music at a prestigious academic conference to counseling students on global study opportunities with the Center for Global Education (CGE)—Burns proves that first-year students can, not just get by, but can hit the ground running at Gettysburg.

First-Year Seminar Experience

In the First-Year Seminar Program, Burns was able to take his long-time interest in folk music and parlay it with studies of history and cultural transformation.

“My First Year Seminar was called: “This Machine Kills Fascists!”: Protest music & Social Change within the Education Department,” said Burns. “I chose the seminar because I grew up listening to folk music and protest music.

“It was awesome that I could take a class that had focused study and discussion around great musicians like Woody Guthrie, Billie Holiday, Bob Dylan, and Bruce Springsteen. We learned about how really great musicians use music as an outlet to spread social awareness in a way that is accessible and is going to reach a larger audience.”

Protest music & Social ChangeAt the end of the semester, the seminar students were asked to create a presentation about a topic that was covered in the course. Burns curated a final project on the history of blues music in the United States. He was selected to present his work to a wider audience in Gettysburg and the Greater Pennsylvania area.

“I presented my final research project at the CAFE Symposium in Gettysburg. From there, I was asked to showcase my project at a larger academic symposium in Harrisburg.” Burns said, “I think that my poster was one of the only non-science presentations at the conference in Harrisburg. All of the others were about DNA, plant growth, and chemical bonds—but I had the blues music.”

Global Education Experience

Andrew Burns ’19 Further connected to his interests in history, Burns brings a passion for geography and global historical constructions to Gettysburg. In his search for an on-campus job, he looked for an opportunity where he could research global geography—he found his perfect position with the Center for Global Education.

“My job mainly involves giving students advice on how to sign up for study abroad programs,” said Burns. “I answer a lot of general questions about study abroad and about specific programs. I have always had an interest in geography and I've always wanted to study abroad, so I thought that the CGE would be a fun place to work.

“As a first year student, it was a great experience because I learned a lot about how study abroad programs work. It's also really cool to get first-hand accounts from students that have come back from abroad about what their experiences were like.”

In his work as a first year student in the CGE office, Burns has wasted no time in preparing for his own study-abroad opportunities for his junior year. He plans to take his studies across the world to Germany—blending his interests in global studies, language and, of course, history.

“I’m planning to study in Germany for the entire year,” said Burns. “I am in German classes right now and I took German in high school, so I think it would be a great way to use my language skills and delve into German history.”