An Interview with Christopher Loman, treasurer, History Graduate Student Association

Thu, 03/14/24
Christopher Loman

I came to FSU as an undergraduate in 2017 and am currently completing my master’s degree. I started here as an undecided student torn between focusing on either Music or History. I declared History as my major when I realized how much I liked it. What I am currently working on for my thesis is remembered versus recorded history, especially the lost cause myth. I am focusing on the ways in which the ‘remembered’ history of the South differs from the ‘recorded’ history. What one recalls may not be factually correct. My major field is in modern U.S. history, and my minor field is war and society.

My end goal is to work in historic preservation. Right now, I work for the Tallahassee Trust for Historic Preservation. I am the research and office assistant and handle much of their day-to-day work. I do a lot with their outreach education, and I manage the membership records.

Eventually, I want to pursue a Ph.D. in historic preservation.

You are an HGSA officer. What is it that you do? 

I'm the treasurer. That means I handle most of the budgetary work and our purchase orders. I have also been coordinating the HGSA presence at Market Wednesday. We have been selling second-hand books with great success. Many people, undergrads especially, love browsing our stock and buying good books at a reasonable price. During the fall semester, I was out there every Wednesday, as I did not have any classes that day. This semester, the tabling has fallen to our communications officer and the HGSA president.

Have you held an office in a student organization before?

As an undergrad, I was a brother of Phi Mu Alpha: Sinfonia, a music fraternity on campus. I was their historian.  I worked with the treasurer to coordinate our fundraising efforts. One was a toy drive for Panama City after hurricane Michael hit.

Why should graduate students join the HGSA?

There are a few reasons why I think the HGSA is a great organization to belong to. One is that we organize an annual conference. For me as an MA student who might feel a bit hesitant to go to a larger conference it is a great chance to participate and present. The conference allowed me to interact with many members of the department and get feedback on my paper.

As a first-generation student, the HGSA offered support. I did not know many people when I came into the program, and I did not know how grad school worked. The HGSA was there immediately, and everybody had time to talk and offer help.

And then, of course, through the HGSA we are represented in the department, for instance, we have a grad student member on the hiring committees. And the HGSA will take our questions and concerns to the grad director and advocate for us.  

What is the difference between doing History as an undergrad and as an MA student?

It comes down to the level of independence you have. As a History major, your studies are structured by the requirements of the major, and you need to make sure that you are meeting all the milestones. As an MA student, you are let off the leash a bit. You do have required classes, but you are on your own with finding your research topic and putting your schedule together.

What advice would you give an undergraduate who is thinking about grad school?

Make sure you look at the faculty in the department you are applying to. That is very different from undergrad. You will be working with a specific person, and you need to check that their research and their approach fits with what you want to do. You also want to check out the departmental culture and see that you and it fit. Lastly, make sure that you get a competitive funding package from the graduate program that you are joining.

Concluding thoughts?

One thing that I feel is often overlooked is the resources that FSU offers. There are world-class musical performers on campus, actors and dancers, amazing athletes, and we can go and see them for free or relatively little money. It is so easy to become enclosed by your department and the topic you study and to forget that there is a world of entertainment available on campus. As an undergrad, one is more immersed in campus life, but the same events and performances are still happening when you are a grad student!