Monday, February 27, 2012

A Word From One of Our Graduating Seniors: Rachel Rodriguez (Class of 2012)

Before I came to Saint Bonaventure, I had put little thought into my future. I was happy being a teenager and felt no need to make any long-term plans. My father told me I would be going to college and pressed me to consider what I wanted until I finally came up with a vague decision: I would go to college to study history. History was something in which I always succeeded, and it was the only subject in high school that truly interested me. This may sound irrelevant, but I believe it is important to understand my mindset at that time in order to appreciate the impact Saint Bonaventure's history department has had on me.
As a freshman I thoroughly enjoyed my history classes. During my first semester, I took a survey class on American history as well as a course on Pan-Africanism. My second semester included more survey classes, and I continued to enjoy my studies. I did very well in these courses and learned a great deal from them.
During my sophomore year, I made an impulsive decision and changed my major to International Studies. I have always felt a yearning to help others, and I believed studying International Studies would be a great way to prepare me to do so. However, as I took these courses I realized how little they interested me, and how much I longed to study history again. Fortunately for me, my adviser for International Studies, Dr. Joel Horowitz, is also a history professor!
I changed my major once more, back to history, and felt very confident with the decision. At this point, I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and began to feel as if I needed to make the decision immediately. I made many visits to Dr. Horowitz's office claiming I had finally found the answer. But then I would leave, and not ten minutes later find I was questioning my goals once again. Something I deeply appreciate to this day is that each time I burst into his office with these triumphant proclamations, Dr. Horowitz treated my ideas as if I had finally found the answer and advised me regarding the ways that I could accomplish the goals I had set out.
When junior year came around, I panicked. I felt torn between a career of working for human rights and one as a historian. I was fortunate enough to have a job within the history department, which really allowed me to get to know my professors. Not only was I spending time in class with them, but I could now run into their offices knowing that they would put down whatever it was that they were doing and talk to me for as long as I needed if I suddenly had a question or idea while at work.
I spent a great deal of time in Dr. Payne's and Horowitz's offices asking them question upon question regarding possibilities for putting my history degree to work. They gave me information, recommended books, and sent me links to websites where I could look into careers. They always reassured me that it would take time for me to develop my goals, and that I would eventually find what was right for me.
After spending so much time worrying about my career, I suddenly realized how much I had learned through history, both about myself and about the world around me. My professors taught me not only facts about history, but also how this history impacts us now and how SO MUCH can be learned from the past. I finally realized that I could take my education in history and use it to help others.
I have recently applied to graduate schools for Sociology/Anthropology with a concentration in social inequality. I will apply my education in history in order to help me understand the past so I can change the future. If I had not majored in history, I would not have learned so deeply about the world and myself. I have benefited tremendously from the incredible support of my history professors. They have helped me grow as acutely as I have. I consider the history department at St. Bonaventure my family and would vehemently suggest incoming students to make the decision to have history as their major.

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