In this series, Elon College, the College of Arts and Sciences is shining the spotlight on distinguished members of the Class of 2021 from a wide array of disciplines.
An Elon College Fellow, DeLayne Jolly’s story is a familiar one at Elon. She arrived her first year undecided, ended up in an art history course by chance and fell in love with the field. She double majored in art history and history and is particularly interested in historical museums.
She was awarded the Cates and Watterson-Troxler awards by the Department of History and Geography.
Tell us about your undergraduate research experience.
I completed a two-year undergraduate research project as part of my Elon College Fellows experience. My project was titled “Remember When: The Function of Nostalgia in North Carolina’s County History Museums.” My project grew out of an interest in small museums and the role they play in communities, as well as my own experience working in a local heritage museum (the Textile Heritage Museum in Burlington). I presented my project at the State of North Carolina Undergraduate Research and Creativity Symposium.
What is your proudest accomplishment while at Elon?
I am proudest of my undergraduate research project. It changed drastically over my time working on it, and I even unsuccessfully applied to the Lumen Prize with it at one point. All the time, thought, reading, and effort that went into it just allowed my scholarship to grow and change as I learned. The changes my project went through made it more interesting and valuable to me, and despite having to do much of it remotely (considering I was conducting interviews with museum directors remotely during the summer of 2020), I was proud of my product.
Did a relationship with a particular professor influence your time at Elon?
I have had many professors at Elon and in the History Hepartment specifically who have been important to me, including my undergraduate research mentor and supervisor for my work with the Elon Art Collection, coordinator Ethan Moore. I would like to give a special thank you to Professor of Art History Kirstin Ringelberg, who has been immeasurably patient and encouraging to me and my research, as well as helping me grow as a student, emerging museum professional, and as a person.
What are your future plans?
I am currently headed towards a job at Bethabara Historic Park in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and plan to continue exploring ways to stay involved in history, museums, and community as I take a gap year before applying to graduate school for public history.
What advice would you give to future Elon students?
Be honest with your professors, take interesting classes pass/fail just for fun, and explore the things you’re interested in without being intimidated! And for my fellow art history majors: There’s no better place to study than Powell House.
What’s your favorite Elon tradition and why?
I’m not typically big on traditions, but I genuinely enjoyed being given an acorn at the beginning of my first year at Elon. It felt like such a bizarre thing for them to hand out, but I’ve still got that acorn sitting in a box on my dresser.