By Noah Ravan ’22

Mia Kilpatrick ’22 spent Interim on a 6,000-mile road trip to 10 U.S. presidential libraries. Her research took her from Atlanta, Georgia, to West Branch, Iowa, and as far north as Boston, Massachusetts.

“My research centered around the question of whether presidential libraries reflect the legacy of the presidents,” says Kilpatrick, an international affairs and Spanish major from Hartsville, South Carolina. “For example, Nixon doesn’t have a great legacy. How would his library compare to someone like Reagan or Roosevelt?”

She found a common theme among libraries.

“I was also curious what each library would choose to emphasize about the president’s legacy,” Kilpatrick says. “I noticed that most libraries stressed the president’s environmental activism in one way or another, which is interesting because that seems like something that we care more about now than we would have at the time that these presidents were in office.”

Dr. David Alvis, associate professor of government and international affairs, was Kilpatrick’s faculty advisor.

“Mia’s Interim project was one of the most impressive independent projects that I have ever had the honor of overseeing,” Alvis says. “Not only was her project intellectually interesting and rigorous, but she achieved quite a physical feat in covering a vast geographical expanse of presidential libraries.”

Kilpatrick says Wofford made her research possible.

“Interim is a great opportunity to explore and research something that interests you,” Kilpatrick says. “I don’t think students take advantage of the fact that we can propose our own projects. The Office of Undergraduate Research is willing to work with students on this sort of thing, and I can’t thank them enough for their help.”

Alvis hopes that Kilpatrick’s work is far from over.

“I think Mia is in a great position to publish a very unique contribution to presidential studies,” Alvis says. “While many scholars take advantage of the resources that these presidential libraries offer, very few have studied them on their own terms. I hope that Mia will continue this research as it would be an invaluable contribution to presidential scholarship.”