Notes From The Workfront: FSU History Alumna Amy Carney (PhD 2010)

Dr. Amy Carney

This past spring, it hit me – I finished my dissertation 10 years ago. Wow, it is still a bit of a shock to think about it. Where has all the time gone?

Well, the first year out, I was a visiting assistant professor at Ohio University. Athens, Ohio is a quintessential small town with a big college, and I had a wonderful first professional year there. Until I got that job, I never knew how many family friends had a connection to OU, and since my time there, I have learned that several of my current colleagues also have ties to OU.

Those current colleagues are at Penn State Behrend, which is in Erie, Pennsylvania. I am a tenured associate professor, and I am currently the department chair as well as an assistant director of the honors programs. Being part of Penn State is great because of the access to all of the resources of a large university, but working at a smaller four-year campus is advantageous because I get the opportunity to know my students, both majors and non-majors, really well. Also, as the only faculty member who teaches modern European history, I can teach virtually any class I want.

Although Behrend is not an R-1 campus, I did have to revise my dissertation and publish a book for tenure. I still vividly remember the day when I got the advanced copy of my book (Marriage and Fatherhood in the Nazi SS). There was a package on my doorstep, and I thought nothing of it; I was expecting an order from Amazon, not my publisher. So, I was quite surprised when I opened the box and saw my book. Surprise turned to giddiness and excitement. I took a picture of my book and texted it to my friends and family. The best response was from my brother: “You’re on Amazon!” What?! Yeah, seriously, I had never thought to look for my book on Amazon, but it’s there. Suddenly, I felt like a real author.

Over a year ago, I started my current research project on the history of infertility in the Third Reich. It has been great to feel enthused about research again. I had long since forgotten the excitement of delving into a new project. Wherever your professional career leads you post-FSU, I hope you, too, have these moments of surprise, giddiness, excitement, and enthusiasm.

One other thing: when I was an undergrad at Jacksonville University and I was applying to graduate school, one of my history professors gave me a great piece of advice. He said that what will make or break graduate school is your relationship with your advisor. He couldn’t have been more right. Nathan Stoltzfus was a fantastic advisor and is still an important mentor. His continuing confidence in me is a big part of why I have succeeded professionally. And I was really honored when he invited me back to FSU this past January to give a research talk and to have the opportunity to meet with current students. Plus, it gave me the chance to catch up with several other professors who were also formative in my development as a historian.

If anyone wants to chat, feel free to reach out to me: acarney@psu.edu. Otherwise, to undergrads and grads alike, best of luck with your studies and enjoy every moment at FSU. I look forward to reading your future “Notes” contribution.