American Studies Open House Reveals A Program On The Rise

Bonnie Godas

UMass Boston is an amazing and culturally diverse community in the way that it caters to all types of students who have different goals and reasons for attending college. There are a lot of wonderful majors at this University; Biology, History, English, or Math that are specifically structured for students who know exactly what they want to academically pursue. But American Studies is different and unique to any other major that is offered. It is unique because it incorporates many disciplines creating an attractive package for many students who need a diverse and dare I say, a relatable concentration of studies.

The American Studies major, introduced in 1997, has its roots in American History and goes way beyond most majors by offering many courses that cross disciplines taking students on a journey that helps them interpret, learn, and understand the world around them. The classes are thought provoking, honest, and informative and once you are done with the course, you may actually remember and use what you learned for years to come.

The courses offered are too numerous to mention indivisually, but many have a particular focus on American culture while incorporating other subjects in depth that vary from studies of specific ethnic groups, from the Latino culture courses taught by Professor Marisol Negron, to Linell Thomas in African American History and Shirley Tang in Asian Studies. Other courses of study focus on specific decades of American History such as the thirties, forties, sixties and eighties taught by Professors Paul Atwood and Phil Chassler, and I’m sure in a couple years they will be teaching a course on the nineties.

It would be remiss not to mention Professor Lois Rudnick, Chair of the American Studies program, who is teaching a fascinating yet challenging course this semester called the Immigration Experience. Professor Rudnick has been teaching for over thirty years and is retiring this year. We are sad to see her leave as she will be missed by both her students and colleagues.

Another point to mention is that not only are the Professors knowledgeable about their discipline of study, they are passionate about it and that passion is contagious. They really want the student to succeed and feel confident in what they are doing and we all need that sometimes.

Ask some of the people that are already in the program what they like about the program and what they plan to do with their degree and you will get answers as diverse as the courses offered, Students like Julie Noe chose this major because “it’s a multi-faceted program catering to a variety of interests and ultimately that’s what made it right for me” Mathew Sullivan says, “I looked around for major for a while and found that American studies offered a good balance between current events as well as the history of our country.” Jolie Narcisse comments on the major by saying “In a way American Studies chose me because it satisfied my curiosity and allowed me to be a confident Haitian-American”.

Because of the well rounded education that is gained by the major, it also may give the student an edge in the job market making them more marketable in the anxiety provoking job search. Opportunities may be in museums, libraries, communications, teaching, or human rights and advocacy.

If you are not sure what to choose as a major, look into the American Studies Program. It might just be what you are looking for and may make your college education something special. Stop by or make an appointment. They are located on the fifth floor in Wheatley.