Sage Michaels at UCSC Commencement in 2022.
Sage Michaels discovered her passion for history while taking Humanities courses at the University of California, Santa Cruz.
Those classes helped her forge a career path that would let her delve deeply into the past and share this fascination with other people. These days she’s working as an interpretive guide at two museums in Massachusetts, where she’s focusing on the American Revolutionary War while getting ready to start graduate school next fall.
“I really enjoy getting to share my love of history and hearing what excites visitors,” said Michaels, who leads tours at the Lexington Historical Society and the Concord Museum near the site of the first battles in the American Revolutionary War.
“The American Revolution wasn’t a topic I studied in college,” Michaels said. “But my history classes gave me the ability to learn a lot about a topic quickly and share what I’ve learned in a meaningful way.”
Recently, Michaels has started assisting the director of interpretation and education at the Lexington Historical Society, helping out with administrative tasks. “I have been enjoying learning about what another position in the museum field looks like as I begin to think about what I would like to do next,” she said.
Next fall, Michaels will start a masters program in disability studies at the School Of Global Inclusion & Social Development at the University of Massachusetts Boston. This program examines global, national, and local issues related to inclusion and social development.
Students seek solutions to complex challenges in today’s rapidly changing society, such as health disparities, environmental justice, community development, participatory decision-making, and economic inequality, as well as discrimination based on gender, disability, sexual orientation, age, race, ethnicity, and economic status.
“This program will train me to help even more people develop a love for history,” Michael said.
Forging a career path at UC Santa Cruz
In the winter of 2021, Michaels took continuing lecturer in History Bruce Thompson’s exit seminar on modern Irish history, where she first learned about the Easter Rising and the Irish War of Independence. The course lit a spark for her. She learned to let her curiosity guide the way.
“Much of the history of the Irish revolutionary period is focused on the men involved, such as James Connolly and Michael Collins,” Michaels said. “Countess Constance Georgine Markievicz is the only woman who is frequently mentioned in regard to revolutionary activity. This is understandable because she was a founding member of the women’s republican revolutionary group, the Cumann na mBan, and was arrested for her involvement in the Rising.”
But – as Michaels discovered while taking this class – Markievicz was far from the only woman involved in the fight for Irish independence.
For her final paper for the seminar, Michaels dug more deeply into the role of women during the Easter Rising, delving into books such as Women of the Irish Revolution by Liz Gillis and Renegades: Irish Republican Women 1900-22 by Ann Matthews.
She also made use of online sources such as the Women’s Museum of Ireland’s website. Her online research led to fresh insights about the Cumann na mBan work during the mid and late 1900s.
“The whole History department was so supportive of me, and I would not be where I am today without all of them,” said Michaels, who expressed her gratitude to Thompson, History Department administrative assistant Stephanie Sawyer, Associate History Professor, Cowell College Provost and Co-Director of the Center for the Study of Pacific War Memories at UC Santa Cruz Alan Chisty, Associate Professor of History Elaine Sullivan, Neufeld-Levin Chair of Holocaust Studies, Associate Professor of History Alma Heckman, and continuing lecturer in History Edward Kehler.
Also during her time at UC Santa Cruz, Michaels immersed herself in public history, serving as the student leader of the archival and oral history teams for the Okinawa Memories Initiative (OMI). Formerly the Gail Project, the initiative is designed to help undergraduate and graduate researchers gain valuable out-of-classroom experience from professionals while advocating Okinawan history.
“OMI was the perfect opportunity to explore Japanese history outside of the classroom,” Michaels said. “OMI allowed me to study history and learn skills that I did not get from regular history courses, such as conducting interviews and video editing. By leading two teams, I also gained important leadership skills that have been and will continue to be incredibly useful in my professional life.”