Wednesday, February 20, 2013

My Time at Bonaventure as a History Major: Maria Swieciki

My senior year of high school, my guidance counselor wanted to kill me. You see, I did the one thing every guidance counselor/college advisor warns against: I applied to only one school—Saint Bonaventure University. Although she nagged me relentlessly to apply elsewhere, I refused. With a decades long family connection to SBU, I knew I didn’t want to go to college anywhere else and so I figured why waste the time and money applying to schools I have no interest in attending? As my frowned upon actions clearly suggest, my desire to be a Bonnie was unwavering.

However, once a freshman at SBU, I did not maintain the same kind of conviction when it came to declaring a major. In fact, my degree options were all over the place. I was considering Art, Spanish, Psychology, History, etc. I had such a wide range of interests, it was hard for me to settle on only one major. After taking a number of History courses and after taking into consideration the lifelong interest and passion I’d had for the subject, I decided to declare as a History major at the beginning of my sophomore year.

Now, as a second semester senior, that decision was over two years ago and I haven’t regretted it once. Not only have I had the opportunity to take many different kinds of History classes, such as Middle Eastern history and Latin American history, but also I’ve had the opportunity to be under the guidance and instruction of great professors. For me, my history professors are the reason why I’ve had such an excellent experience pursuing this degree. Although they all have different personal backgrounds and different areas of focus, they all share a passion for the study of history and a strong commitment to their students.
While my classmates and I don’t always care for the readings or papers they assign, I think every History major here at SBU would agree that the members of the History Department continuously go above and beyond to ensure their students’ success as historians in the making—from aiding in the acquisition of research to helping students hone their writing skills. Having teachers who care and who constantly push you to ask, discuss and uncover more has honestly made the most difference to me as a History major. Many people falsely assume that History is just memorizing dates and facts, but really it’s about making connections between different topics, between the past and the present, and so on.

The latter is a very important lesson I’ve learned as a History major here at SBU. It’s also inspired me. After I graduate this May with my BA in History, I plan on attending graduate school back home so that I can earn a Master’s degree in Adolescent Education. In addition to performing the typical duties of a high school teacher, such as preparing students for state exams, I really want to instill in my future students a true appreciation of history and an understanding that history is more than what you read about in a textbook. My history professors at SBU have shown me that history really is everywhere—in cartoons, music, diaries, etc. Although one can major in history at just about any school, I think this understanding and appreciation that I’ve developed is one I can only attribute to the history program offered here at Saint Bonaventure.

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