Past and Present Student Testimonials

Ryan K. Anderson, U.S. History
I came to Purdue’s History Department in 2000, having earned an M.A. at another institution. Since then, I have: progressed through classes, served as a T.A., completed comprehensive and major field exams, given papers at academic conferences, published an article in a refereed journal, written book chapters and book reviews for publication, worked on department committees, interacted with applicants for professorial positions, served as an officer in the HGSA, helped coordinate recruitment weekends, been awarded research fellowships from within and from outside of the department, and began dissertation research. This department did two things for me during that time. First, by working with my major professor, I developed the expertise in the specialized fields of gender, cultural, and social histories that emboldened my writing projects. Classes with other faculty members and both formal and informal interaction with my graduate colleagues sharpened the focus of my intellectual endeavors along the way. Second, I found the faculty members contributing to my minor field endeavors and support staff more than willing to play a major role in my progress, which allowed me to take on opportunities outside of the department. In the process, they enhanced both my specialized research and development as an instructor. I am confident as a Ph.D. candidate that the faculty, my esteemed colleagues, and the superb support staff will all continue to contribute to my professional development. When I finish my work here at Purdue, I will have been given the opportunity to live up to my full potential as a professional historian.

Brittany N. Bayless, U.S. History
I grew up in the Midwest and my research interests lie in the region. Finding a university that was close to home and archival institutions pertinent to my dissertation topic made Purdue a great choice. It's close proximity to Chicago, Indianapolis, and Detroit provide quick access to important regional and national depositories. A friend of mine doing research near the institution where I earned my M.A. degree encouraged me to consider Purdue for doctoral study. It was great advice. Upon my first visit to the university I met with a number of faculty members working on projects that complemented my research interests. Dr. John Larson, Dr. Nancy Gabin, and Dr. Darren Dochuk gave me an incredible, albeit grounded, impression of the graduate program. Since that first visit I have found a number of faculty members I enjoy working with, and each have something special to offer my study, be it oral history, gender theory, or environmental studies. These mentors have taken an active role in my growth as an aspiring historian. In addition to having a dedicated faculty, the graduate student body has proven to be very supportive of my professional endeavors. The History Graduate Student Association (HGSA) hosts a variety of activities that furnish opportunities for networking, professional development, and community growth. I am confident as a Ph.D. candidate that I am earning a degree of merit. I'm grateful I found my way to Purdue, and I think you will be too.

Cullen J. Chandler, European History
I came to Purdue, having earned an M.A. from another institution, to work especially with one professor in my field of specialization. When I started my studies here, I quickly found two additional strengths of the program. For starters, I like the structure of the program, balancing depth in my major field with broad training; that should be of help in the academic job search. My advisor is superb, and my colleagues say the same about theirs. But especially nice is the faculty in general. The professors I have worked with are top-notch scholars who are dedicated to graduate teaching and professionalization. They give freely of their time and advice, helping me to refine research ideas, obtain funding, and prepare myself for finding a job. Another strength is that the graduate student body enhances the formal structure. There are few enough of us that we all know people working in other fields and can be exposed to different ideas and approaches to history. At the same time, there is a critical mass in any given specialty, so that we can share thoughts with colleagues dealing with similar issues. Purdue has been great, and I am glad I continued my studies here.

Micah Childress, U. S. History
Having earned my M.A. at Purdue, I had two unfair advantages that led me to enroll in the Ph.D. program. First, I already had an intimate knowledge of the History Department and had taken coursework from a number of professors, both of which were strong influences in my decision to stay. Second, I already knew what my dissertation topic was going to be and when I discussed it with Dr. Mike Morrison, Dr. John Larson, and Dr. Caroline Janney, it was inspiring to see them get as excited about my project as I was. I knew that my professors at Purdue would encourage me in my endeavor, but I also knew they would challenge me to produce the best scholarship possible. Knowing that a good dissertation is the key to a good job, I was confident that my committee at Purdue would help me craft a tremendous project. An unintended benefit of being at Purdue for both my M.A. and my Ph.D. is the ability to take classes from and T.A. for a number of talented lecturers. These professors have given me invaluable insights into how to instruct students, construct a course, and maintain a fun yet learning-focused atmosphere. I am positive that I will graduate from Purdue as both a proficient scholar and a motivated teacher.

Amy Dean, European History
I selected Purdue University because of the reputation of the faculty members within not only the Early Modern field, but throughout the entire History Department. The wide diversity of scholarly interests among the faculty has encouraged both the cultivation and broadening of my own endeavors. The combination of the various interests of the Early Modern professors encompasses the major aspects of the period, while also providing particular focus on France, England, and Central Europe. Additionally, the modest size of the department has created a strong sense of community among the professors and the graduate students.

Beau Gaitors, Global History
After spending the last four years pursuing my bachelor’s degree on the East Coast, my return to a familiar region of the country has been a pleasant change. As a native of Chicago, my family and friends were extremely enthusiastic to have the opportunity to see me again. Academically and personally, the close proximity to Chicago facilitated my smooth transition into a challenging, yet rewarding, M.A. program. At the same time, there is enough distance from my hometown to allow me to focus on my classes and research. The professors at Purdue work to create an intellectually stimulating environment while actively supporting my academic endeavors. Dr. Charles Cutter has been the ideal advisor. He has helped me to understand the intricacies of Colonial Latin American legal culture and its implications for the Latin American social order. Furthermore, through his tireless efforts to train me in the study of Spanish paleography, Dr. Cutter has given me a scholarly tool that will be essential in graduate and professional pursuits for years to come. In classes, Dr. Joseph Dorsey and Dr. Susan Curtis have also provided me with invaluable insights about the theoretical issues that historians undoubtedly face through their explanation and in-depth discussion of topics including race, gender, and archival theory. Their constant availability to discuss these issues outside the classroom fostered my understanding of these issues as well. Lastly, my opportunities to T.A. for Dr. Charles Cutter and Dr. Stacy Holden presented me with firsthand engagement and instruction about the pedagogical tools that professors employ in the classroom. My passion for learning and my desire to pursue a career in academia has exponentially grown as a result of the nurturing environment offered by the Purdue graduate students and faculty.

Amy Harris, European History
I first became aware of the Purdue History Graduate Program through a faculty mentor at my master's institution. As a lifelong resident of southern Indiana, I had a few qualms about leaving IU country for Boilermaker territory, nevertheless I pursued his recommendation. My first visit to Purdue was on a miserable October day. The sharp winds cut through me like razors and the damp gray campus left a less-than-stellar impression. Although my family and I met many kind faculty and staff members, we unanimously came to the conclusion that Purdue was not the best place for me. Then a few months later, I was accepted to the Ph.D. program and offered a generous fellowship. Despite my first impression of Purdue, I decided to give the university another chance. A funny thing happened on my second visit to Purdue. The clouds parted both literally and figuratively. This time I encountered the campus on a pleasant spring day. Instead of cold winds, I met warm faces eager to introduce me to faculty, staff, and current graduate students. The department members went out of their way to make me feel at home. I was welcomed into the community of graduate students and encouraged to become active in departmental affairs. I was also able to meet my future advisor Dr. Whitney Walton and many of the professors I would be working with, and have thoughtful conversations about MY interests and aspirations. After this positive experience there was no doubt in my mind – Purdue was the place for me. Perhaps Purdue's most valuable asset is that it combines the resources and opportunities afforded to students by large institutions with the one-on-one attention that is often only available at smaller institutions. Having these resources only a few hours away from my hometown allows me to keep in touch with those I hold dearest while pursuing my dreams. I guess you could say Purdue was love at second sight for me.

Erica A. Morin, U.S. History
I’ll admit, Purdue is a long way from home for me. As a lifelong resident of northern New York, in the heart of the Adirondack Mountains, the Indiana scenery leaves a lot to be desired. But I love Purdue because of the people. I entered Purdue in Fall 2005 in a different graduate program. However, I did not find an encouraging intellectual community there and I began to question my decision to pursue graduate education. Luckily I took several classes in the History Department with excellent instructors like Dr. John Larson and Dr. Jon Teaford. I also found friendship and community among history graduate students. I chose to pursue my Ph.D. in history, and I have not looked back since. In the History Department, I know I can go to any of my advisors or instructors to discuss academic issues, research goals, personal concerns, teaching ideas, or just to shoot the breeze. My research ideas are embraced and professors like Dr. Nancy Gabin are always available for help and consultation during the research and writing process. I feel like my work is important and the History Department is giving me the intellectual and financial support to pursue it. The department, especially Dr. Doug Hurt, is very supportive of professional development activities, conference presentations, and publication attempts. The HGSA also provides opportunities for scholarly conversations, as well as writing and research advice with various events during the semester. I am at home at Purdue now, even if there are still no mountains.

Sean Scott, U.S. History
A classmate of mine at the institution where I earned my M.A. degree encouraged me to consider Purdue for doctoral study. I am glad I took the advice. Both the academic program and the people have made my experience at Purdue satisfying. The course of study has been both intellectually challenging and rewarding. Seminars have stimulated my thinking and broadened my knowledge of core historical topics and subfields. Studying for the general field exam has allowed me to develop my own survey courses in U. S. history and solidify my own understanding of the things I eventually will be teaching. Just as the academic preparation has been superlative, the people at Purdue have been equally exceptional. The faculty have taken a genuine interest in my academic career as well as my personal well being. Always available for discussion, they not only have provided superb academic instruction but also offered practical advice and helpful tips regarding career development. Their insights and constructive criticisms have sharpened my writing skills and motivated me to think about historical problems from new perspectives. My fellow graduate students at Purdue likewise have contributed to my intellectual growth by sharing ideas and research findings in seminar discussions. However, the ability to form friendships that go beyond the classroom has been equally important. The constructive academic environment and expertise of the faculty has allowed me to grow intellectually and prepare effectively to reach my career goals. I am confident Purdue can do the same for you.

Garrett Washington, Global History
I arrived at Purdue University in August of 2004, after having completed my M.A. at a French university. I chose Purdue for a variety of professional and personal reasons, and I am glad that I made the choice. I feel as if I have really had the opportunity to see the Global history program get off the ground. Many top scholars will be visiting our department for workshops, conferences, and as guest speakers this academic year alone. Since my arrival, I have been surrounded by exciting scholars pursuing groundbreaking research in many "non-Western" fields. At the same time, I have gotten to taken advantage of outstanding US and European historians at the forefront of those fields. Most important for me has been the willingness and capacity of these professors to work on transnational themes. As I finish up now, I have no regrets. The department has repeatedly supported my small and larger projects, and professors have always worked to encourage, stimulate, and challenge me, throughout my development as a graduate student. Furthermore, the history graduate student community continues to be a welcoming, friendly, tight-knit, and a fun group, and I will miss it when I leave this place for good.

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