Wednesday, December 12, 2012

My History Major Side

Ok, so I know the title of my blog says I'm a journalism major... But I actually created this blog before declaring a double major at St. Mike's.  This was before the 4-4 curriculum (4 classes per semester, 4 credits each) was implemented and it was no longer required to have a minor with a journalism major.  Before this, history was my minor since I came in with a lot of history credits from AP classes and an introductory college course I took one summer.  I declared a double major when I figured out I had room in my schedule to do so when the 4-4 curriculum was implemented.  So, if you want to read more about the journalism major, click here. My friend and senior seminar project partner Gabbi Hall gives a GREAT description of what the journalism department is all about.  However, I want to talk about my history major since it was this semester more than any semester that I really got in touch with my history major side.

Even though this semester has been one of my most challenging as far as the history department goes, I've really come to love the history department as much as I love the journalism department.  Even though I'm a self-declared American history nerd, the department has really helped me broaden my history horizons.  I've taken classes like Modern East Asia, History of Rome, World War II in Europe and Race, Women and Culture in the Americas while at St. Mike's (not to mention History of the Italian Mafia while I was in Italy).  Each class has sparked my interests in a different way.  It is required by the department to take a variety of history classes in a variety of historical areas to fulfill the major.  History majors can even specialize by adding an American Studies, East Asian Studies or Medieval Studies minor.  It is also required to take a certain number of introductory courses as well as some upper-level seminar classes (which are usually smaller and more specialized).

I have found history classes especially useful in learning research and presentation skills, since those are also vital skills in my journalism major. This semester in particular, I had the opportunity to do some research in the St. Michael's library archives regarding the Edmundites during WWII in England, and it has been one of my favorite projects I've ever done in college.  I also wrote a senior thesis this semester that combined history, media studies and politics (one of my other interests that did not pan out into a major or minor). The professors in the history department were all very supportive and helpful throughout the entire process. Both of these projects required a lot of long-term research, self-motivation and patience.

Me holding my finished senior thesis - Media Effects on Presidential Elections: Television vs. the Internet.  This was the longest thing I have ever written, numbering 64 pages by the end (not counting bibliography or cover page).  I was recently given Honors Program credit for it!

As is true with many other departments on campus, history professors are very approachable and more-than willing to help students. It's a pretty small department like the journalism department, so it's easy for students to get to know the professors outside of class too.  After studying abroad in Italy, I was told by both Professor Dungy (Latin American studies) and Professor Dameron (Medieval studies - with a focus in Tuscany in Italy) that they wanted to meet with me so I could tell them all about my trip.  The best part about the history professors at St. Mike's is they are passionate about their areas of research.  Professor Purcell (British history) is constantly saying, "I'm so excited about this! Aren't you guys excited?" when teaching about a specific topic in her World War II in Europe class.

Being a history major is awesome, and I highly recommend it.  It has been really fun getting to know the history professors in the department and get to go more in depth about really cool history topics.  The classes (especially the upper level seminar classes) have really sparked my interest in a variety of topics.  The last class I will take in the history department next semester is called "Deviant Women," and I am SO excited to dive right in!

If you have any questions about the History Department or about my life at St. Michael's College in general, do not hesitate to email me (, Tweet me (@LizMurraySMC) or ask me a question on Formspring (lizmurray3).


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