A historian by training, Valentyna Nagy (HIST '09) has turned her passion for genealogy into profession. Fluent in five languages, she has insatiable thirst for different cultures, languages, exciting new discoveries and great sense of adventure. She holds a Ph.D in History and was a visiting Fulbright researcher at George Washington University.
You’re a freelance genealogist and a pilot? (Do they relate somehow?) What do you fly and for whom?
To be more precise, I am a professional genealogist and an aviation hobbyist. For work I do family history research for private persons and companies. As a hobby I learn to fly an ultralight aircraft (a lightweight, two-seat airplane). These activities are independent of each other, but they both give a sense of freedom and adventure. Actually, it would be fun to make a field research trip by a small aircraft some time, like in Indiana Jones-esque movies.
What do you find the most rewarding about your work?
Solving difficult cases and breaking research “brick walls” for my clients.
Do you feel your time at CEU prepared you for the work you do now? If so, how?
Certainly, yes. My Central European history education at CEU is very relevant for my work, as it requires knowledge of the historical context and institutional structures of the CEE region, working with archival documents, other primary sources, oral histories.
What do you feel the value of your CEU experience? What stood out?
CEU was my first truly international education experience, and its biggest value was realizing how similar people from around the globe actually are, despite all the cultural diversity. Being “in the same boat” with fellow students, dealing with the same problems and challenges brought me to the conclusion that there were no fundamental differences between us, human beings.
What would you advise someone just beginning their studies here?
Enjoy this unique time, make lasting friendships and consider unconventional career paths.