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SCE on Vacation

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    Holly Chisholm in Scotland
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    Holly Chisholm poses at the Eiffel Tower
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April 06, 2017
Life is no vacation when you’ve got two theses to work on. So double business and history major Holly Chisholm ’17 decided to write hers about the American vacation.

Her history Senior Capstone Experience, is titled From Health Resorts to Theme Parks: The Progression of American Vacationing Attractions tracks the changes in America’s vacationing habits by examining four different resorts. “America’s vacations shifted from health related places to those that were more active, entertaining, and pleasurable,” she said. Her business thesis analyzes the travel review and booking site TripAdvisor.

Naturally, Chisholm’s thesis journey began with traveling. In her sophomore year, she was planning a study abroad trip to Paris when, she said, “I realized a day before class registration that I needed to take Historical Methods [the History Department’s junior seminar] if I wanted to study abroad spring of junior year.”

Dr. Carol Wilson, professor of American history, was teaching the seminar that year, and she helped Chisholm land on a topic. “I went to her for help, and I know I was wearing a Disney t-shirt,” Chisholm said. “Somehow we got on the topic of Disney — something I absolutely love — and I ended up with something very similar to my current topic.” Dr. Wilson stayed on as the advisor for Chisholm’s SCE. “Overall, my short meetings with Dr. Wilson really helped me keep motivated and kept the process clear,” Chisholm stated.

Holly Chisholm poses at Mont Saint-MichelHolly Chisholm poses at Mont Saint-MichelHer passion for studying the American vacation remained strong, and she was able to use much of the research from her sophomore year in her final SCE project. This included reading travel guides from the 1800s. In one about New Jersey, she looked up her hometown out of curiosity. “I immediately sent screenshots to my parents,” she said. It turns out that the most notable concern of citizens at that time was the same as it is today: an overzealous deer population. 

Her business SCE topic crystalized following her study abroad experience. She knew she wanted to write a strategic analysis of a publically traded company, wasn’t sure which one until in Paris, she said “I traveled a lot within the Île-de-France region, and around Europe. I used TripAdvisor to find a variety of unique places to visit, and I really appreciated the reviews from other travelers when looking for hotels or restaurants. By the end of my semester abroad, I’d written over sixty reviews myself.” Her good experience as a customer convinced her to study the company academically.

It requires a certain type of person to take on two long writing projects, but History Department policy meant that Chisholm was not able to combine her two majors into one paper. “I’m motivated just by knowing I have to get something done, so for my theses, I just buckled down and started,” she said. “During spring “break” I had two papers due along with my two theses deadlines, so I was in a whirlwind state of constant writing.”

At times, the process felt like it was hanging over her head. She said, “Writing two theses has definitely affected my ability to take the time to enjoy Chestertown and my senior year, but in the end, college is about academic pursuits, so I don’t think it’d be fair to call the SCE an obstacle. Overall, I feel that the SCE process has served as a climax of my education — it put everything I learned from classes, my research skills, writing abilities, and self-discipline, to the test.”

And it seems though that Chisholm just can’t get a break from theses topics. She said, “In the fall I’ll be moving to Florida for the Disney College Program!”


Last modified on Apr. 6th at 1:49pm by CRM Lindsay Bergman.