News and Features

My degree in History directly led me to my career in museums and cultural institutions. When I came to Florida State as an undergraduate, my initial major was actually Environmental Studies, as part of the Geography department. I had taken an AP course on Human Geography in high school and was interested in studying cultures and their interactions around the world. I soon came to realize that this was the wrong major for me and requested a transfer to History, where I could still study those themes! I had always had an interest in history as a young child and once beginning my degree in History, I knew I was on the right track.

Initially, I was quite unsure what to do with my History degree upon reaching graduation. My first thought was to go on to teach, but something about that did not fit for me. I began taking my courses and needed to declare my minor. I remember scanning the list of available minors and when I saw “Museum Studies,” I immediately knew that this was what I was meant to do!

Last summer, Emma Davis, a History & French junior, got accepted for a Virtual Student Federal Service (VSFS) internship with the National Cemetery Association (NCA). “I heard about the VSFS program through the History Department and decided to apply. I have been doing internships since I came to FSU which helped me in applying for the NCA.”  Emma is one of three interns working for that department this year. VSFS internships are by nature remote/ virtual. They are offered by a range of federal government agencies. Founded in 2009, VSFS internships run from September to May and are aimed at goth graduate and undergraduate students.

Emma singled out time management as her number one challenge during the fall semester. “The VSFS internship did not start until September 1st, so I got settled in all my classes. But staying on top of things throughout the semester was hard. My experience with previous internships helped me in staying on track with the VSFS one.” Emma works 10 hours a week on the internship, and she creates her own schedule. “But sometimes I have a test or a paper due and I put work on the project off till Thursday. Then I have to sit down and spend some time catching up.”

For graduate students going stir crazy in Tallahassee, my experiences can serve as a cautionary tale or a note of (chaotic) inspiration. After living in Tallahassee for three years, I was itching to get away. The climate was heaps and bounds too hot and humid for this northeasterner, and I missed the mountains and valleys of Upstate New York. I stuck around long enough to teach my own course (which was a ton of fun – and, of course, important for the CV), then ran for the literal hills. For the next couple of years, I graded online for the department and used that freedom of movement to apply for grants and fellowships, pursue archival research in the States and abroad, and live in the middle of nowhere.

Beatrice Dain and Jacob Bloch both applied for and were awarded IDEA grants in spring 2020. Below they describe how they crafted their successful applications.


Applying to IDEA Grant can be daunting – you need to write a project proposal and personal statement, compile a budget, and request 2 letters of recommendation. But before you get caught up in the components of the application, it is important to take a step back and think about what you are interested in studying.

I applied for the IDEA grant in conjunction with my Honors in the Major thesis, which helped to solidify my thoughts for an application. The grant application guidelines are very clearly laid out; they explain what is needed for each component of the application and how candidates are selected. Be sure to carefully read through all of these criteria and review their example applications to see how other students have structured their applications in the past.

Project Proposal:

The process started for me with developing a well thought out research plan. I suggest you try to answer these questions in an outline before you start writing your application. They helped guide me in the flow and layout when writing my proposal.

There are a few things you need to know about me: I did almost everything wrong, but I did a few things right and that made all the difference. I studied Middle East history under Peter Garretson beginning in January 2002. I earned three degrees from FSU (BA 2001, MA 2004, PhD 2011) and one from the University of Arizona (MA 2006). August 2020 I applied for promotion to Full Professor. I credit much of my success to the training I received at FSU and the importance of the relationships I formed there.

I was absolutely unprepared for graduate school. It was through the grace and patience of my major professor, my friends and mentors that I made it through the program. My first MA took almost double the time it should have. I received a C in Research Methods the first time around. At FSU, I learned the incalculable significance of friends, mentors, and the importance of collegiality. Therefore, I offer three pieces of advice that have sustained me as I have made the journey from ABD-hire to an almost Full Professor.

We mourn the passing and celebrate the life of our dear mentor, former colleague, and friend Jean Gould Bryant.  Jean joined the FSU History Department in 1972. A leader and trailblazer, she became an inspiration to aspiring young women who dreamed of a career in academia. Jean introduced the first Women’s History courses at FSU, and was instrumental in the creation and development of what is now the University’s interdisciplinary Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program. Jean served as the passionate and steadfast director of the Women’s Studies Program from 1972 until her retirement in 2001. Professor Bryant worked tirelessly to advance women’s rights, empower women, and light a path for the careers of many. Her contributions are undeniably part of the foundation of FSU’s meteoric transformation into a University renowned worldwide as a premier institution of higher learning. We remember Jean as a loyal friend and colleague, a consummate teacher and mentor, and a sweet and gentle soul.

--A tribute by Dr. Maxine Jones, Professor of History

I graduated with an M.A. in Public History in the Spring of 2020 and am currently working in FSU Libraries Special Collections & Archives based in the Claude Pepper Library. While my office is there, my job allows me to work across the Special Collections division broadly with the different collections, rare books, and artifacts that we steward.

The last two years have been an incredible journey, and it’s great to take a moment to reflect on my experiences since I left Tallahassee. Initially, I wasn’t sure where I should start. While trying to write this, I kept finding myself staring at a painting one of my students created after we returned from a study abroad trip last year. The red and orange sunset sky, which is reflected in the river, contrasts with the black and white etching of the Pilgrim Bridge in Puente la Reina, Spain. Perhaps it was a mistake to hang it directly behind my computer screen. It’s too easy to let my mind drift back to those warm summer evenings in Spain, particularly since the pandemic started. However, it occurred to me that this painting captures a couple of things that I want to say here.

I obtained my MA in History from FSU in May 2016 and immediately found work as a high school teacher for Miami-Dade County public schools. At Florida State University I had the pleasure of teaching in the Humanities Department while researching the Napoleonic era. My teaching and research skills transferred well into my teaching career where I sought to take what I learned and apply it in my teaching. As a teacher my goal was to dispel the myth that history is merely a chronological order of events and important dates to memorize. I introduced my students to the study of historiography where we particularly looked at how the US Civil War has been interpreted since its conclusion. The students were fascinated and could easily see the relevance in how differing interpretations of the Civil War affected our country today. We investigated how people, including historians, offered a rehabilitative interpretation of the Antebellum South. Students picked up on the interpretive aspect of history and one even likened it to how conspiracy theories are interpretations of history.

Each student’s academic path is unique, but Emile Boghos’ path to graduation has been especially so. After taking a few years off to work on political campaigns, Emile is graduating this Fall 2020 semester with a bachelor’s degree in history. While he enjoyed working on campaigns, he met with limitations, noting, “You do kind of hit a wall as far as where campaigns will let you advance when you don’t have that four-year degree.” Once he had decided to complete his bachelor’s degree, he considered going into politics or higher education. However, his time on campaigns encouraged him to pursue history. “I had done a lot of political work and I got drawn into reading history on my own,” he explained. “I really wanted to understand the context of the policies I was working on in campaigns. [History] was more appealing to me than going a political science route, so I could unpack where these issues stemmed from.”