News and Features

My freshman year, I did not grasp the true value of education. Nor did I know about undergraduate research, Directed Individual Studies, fellowships, and other enriching opportunities. As a first-generation college student, my idea of college was simply attending classes and earning a piece of paper proclaiming that I had graduated. Once I realized how wrong I was, I packed as much as I could into my junior and senior year.

Age of Revolutions (AoR) is an online platform that has been making an impact on the field of revolutionary history. The site is innovative in the realm of academic publishing because it is open-access yet maintains a rigorous peer-review process. In an earlier article (The Making of 'Age of Revolution'), we describe how Bryan Banks and Cindy Ermus, both alumni of FSU History and the Institute on Napoleon and the French Revolution (INFR), created the online platform.

“When I go to a scholarly website, I don’t expect to be surprised, if only because I am often looking for something specific. But when I go to Age of Revolutions I always find something unexpected and unexpectedly helpful for my own teaching or research. The site offers gateways to new thoughts because its editors are always on top of the latest developments and because they have an especially capacious view of what matters in history. They are not just collecting scholarship; they are actively helping to create new interpretations.”

My journey to my doctorate was hard and atypical, but I have always known that this is what I have wanted, and as a goal the achievement of my Ph.D. never ceased to be on my radar. The three things that helped me to finally obtain it at the mature age of fifty-two included the solid foundation I gained from my experience in the military, my background as a K-12 educator, and the professional nurturing and the targeted and specialized support I received from each one of my professors and fellow graduate students in the History department at Florida State University.

Del Herman is an FSU alumnus who is currently teaching in an Orange county elementary school as part of the Teach for America program. Del graduated from FSU in 2019 with a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy and History and served as a resident assistant (RA) for three years. Del hadn’t planned on teaching third graders during a pandemic, but through this experience, he’s found his unsuspected passion for K-12 education.

What is Teach for America?

I went on the job market during the 2009-2010 academic year. That spring, I turned thirty and was in what seemed like a never-ending process of dissertation writing.  Questions about when I would finish school and get a real job—from parents, friends, and acquaintances outside of academia—were mounting.  This only added to the pressure of a rough job market and the nagging thought that I may not get a full-time position.

What do you tend to think of when you think of a history major? Archives? Libraries? Museums? Yes, but also no. The skills developed in the study of history are so flexible you can apply them almost anywhere. As a student of history, you’re taught to be constantly curious, to look for patterns, and to think of the big picture. An understanding of history and the skills related to historical study are transferable and needed in any career!

In my career, I have gotten the reputation of being a storyteller, and that is what I’m going to present to you here, my story. My route to Florida State’s History department was an interesting one.  After graduating with a BA in History from the University of Miami with a focus on medieval history, I sent out a number of applications to graduate schools across the country and in Europe looking to continue my academic journey. I received denials from all of them.

My graduation (Spring of 2020) looked nothing like I had expected. I had left Tallahassee in March thinking that I would be getting a nice break before coming back to defend my thesis and finish off my semester before hopefully finding an internship to ease me into the working world. Of course, the entire world shutting down had not been in my plans.

What does it mean to own something? What sorts of things can be owned, and what cannot? How does one relinquish ownership? What are the boundaries between private and public property? Over the course of a decade, the French Revolution grappled with these questions. Punctuated by false starts, contingencies, and unexpected results, this process laid the foundations of the Napoleonic Code and modern notions of property as a result.