Tess Evans reads history for fun. She even writes mini-research papers during the summer to prepare for possible projects during the school year.
So it comes as no surprise that she received the Robert L. Hill Award (at left from President Kenneth Garren), given to a senior in the top 2 percent of the class who has pursued a challenging and rigorous academic curriculum while being involved with campus and/or community projects. She has made the dean’s list each semester and is a member of Phi Kappa Phi, Phi Alpha Theta, and Phi Sigma Iota. As the Hill scholar, whe will lead her class at commencement on May 12.
Tess was a history major with an emphasis in European history and minors in French and medieval and Renaissance studies. She has presented papers at several conferences across Virginia and in North Carolina. Tess said she has had great professors in the history department.
Her ultimate goal is to become a professor at a small college, like her alma mater. She is attending James Madison University this fall for a two-year master’s degree program. Then it’s on for her PhD
“I’ve wanted a PhD since I was 5 or 6,” she said, “and I was definitely influenced by my mom.”
Her mom is Dr. Annette Evans, assistant professor of religious studies at LC. As much as they both love church history, Tess is also drawn to southern history, particularly the antebellum south. She would like to continue research she started here for her master’s thesis at JMU.
“I want to write about how African-American religious practices influenced white women before the Civil War,” she said.
When Tess is not immersed in history, she enjoys tutoring in the Wilmer Writing Center and is lead tutor in the history lab. She has had many returning students specifically request to work with her. “I like working with students who are despondent about writing,” she said. Tess helps her peers change their attitude about writing and realize that a fundamental part of a liberal arts education is the ability to express themselves clearly.
Tess also loves to read English literature, and was naturally drawn to Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy. The heroine with the same name proved to be the subject of her favorite book.
Apart from history, her other great love is animals. She grew up on a farm near Charlottesville, Va., and says her family picks up more strays than she can admit. The menagerie includes four horses and numerous cats and dogs.
Tess says her two siblings are more like her father, who is a professor of medicine at the University of Virginia. Her younger brother wants to be a doctor and her older sister is in veterinary school at Virginia Tech.
Her best advice, though, came from both her parents. “They always said you have to do what you’re passionate about,” she said.