Searching for museums and a close community
Future museums educator and Rockford resident Maxime Hall’24 (she/they) chose Beloit for three reasons: museum studies, affordability, and proximity to home. She is especially thankful for the financial and emotional support her family and local community can provide as she pursues her degree.
Rockford, Ill., resident and Beloit senior Maxime Hall’24 (she/they) was inspired to pursue museum studies by her childhood exploring castles in Germany. She found exactly what she was looking for at Beloit, where she is an education and history double major with a minor in museum studies.
“Growing up in Europe, I was constantly going to museums,” Maxime recalls. “[When] I was seven or eight, we were touring one of these castles that had a tour guide, and I looked at my mom and I said, ‘What if I was that person one day? What if that was me?’ That clicked in my head, [the idea] of being this historical educator or museum educator.”
Originally from the village of Griesen in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, Maxime attended a military school through the U.S. Department of Defense, where class sizes were small and tight-knit. “I met a lot of international students who were connected to the American military, and I got to connect with a bunch of different cultures from around the world,” Maxime says.
She missed that sense of a close, international community when she moved to Rockford and attended a local public high school, but found it again at Beloit. The college’s proximity to her home in Rockford was an additional benefit; tuition reciprocity between Illinois and Wisconsin offered Maxime affordability and allowed her to live with her family while pursuing her education.
“Going from high school to college is a big step,” she says, “and taking that leap is already scary as it is, but moving out and into a dorm [that might be] far away can be so much more stressful than a lot of people think it is. You don’t think you’re going to miss your parents, you don’t think you’re going to miss your dog, but as soon as you come here, being close to your family is a game changer for a lot of people.”
Maxime commutes a half hour to campus from Rockford every morning. Living at home is the most affordable option for her, even though she would have preferred to live on campus if money was not a restriction.
“Sometimes I feel like I miss out on a lot of community,” she says. “It’s not at the level that it could be if I lived here.”
Nevertheless, Maxime has found the perfect balance of academic support and challenge from her professors, as well as opportunities to get involved in other ways. As a first-year, she curated her own exhibit of giraffes, jewelry, and second-hand German novels for a museum studies course called Collecting Stories and presented her display alongside others to fellow students, staff, and faculty. She also traveled to Rome for a Global Experience Seminar titled Ghosts of Rome, taught by Professor of Classics Lisl Walsh, where she mastered navigating the city by printed map and presented on the temples of Venus and Roma and of Mars Ultor.
“I feel like I am academically challenged, and that is not something I had at my public high school,” Maxime says. “Here, I am constantly encouraged by my advisors to take more classes because they are aware of what I am capable of.”
Anthropology and history professor Robert LaFleur counseled Maxime through the stress of a first-year course load and has encouraged her to pursue a Ph.D. in history immediately after college. On the other hand, Katherine Johnston and Jennifer Hurst, professors of history and education, have advised balance and suggest taking a break from the rigor of six classes every once in a while.
“I need that challenge,” Maxime says. “If I just get an easy A, I feel like I’ve learned nothing. But if I’m actually challenged to get that A, those are the classes I love the most because it’s where I need them to be.”