Headshot of Ryan Purcell

Ryan D. Purcell, 2013 (M.A., American History)
Ph.D. student at Cornell University

Q: What did you like about the program?
A: I liked that some of the history courses were cross-listed with the American Studies Ph.D. program. This was an enriching experience in two regards: first, these courses incorporated interdisciplinary American Studies methodologies, which enhanced the way I engage with primary sources; Second, I learned by working along-side Ph.D. students, some of whom had spent a great deal of time thinking about their research topics and had years of experience and knowledge to offer.

Q: What was the greatest strength of the program?
A: The dedication and compassion of the faculty was the greatest strength of the program, by far. Professors at Rutgers-Newark offered me insight in and out of the classroom, in preparing for job interviews for example. The administrative staff is a valuable component of what makes this program strong. They go above and beyond to ensure the success of their students. And what is more, they open their hearts to the students which fosters a warm, inviting community. Rutgers-Newark has become my second family.

Q: How did your experience in the Master’s program influence your choices concerning further education or work?
A: Faculty and staff in the Master’s program encouraged me to pursue a doctoral degree after I finished. Faculty on my Master’s committee helped me compose successful Ph.D. applications, and pushed me to publish scholarship to enhance my academic profile. They continue to provide emotional and academic support now that I am enrolled in a Ph.D. program elsewhere. 

Q: Do you have any advice for current graduate students?
A: Take as many research seminars as possible. They teach you to read primary sources critically, and produce polished scholarship with the guidance of experienced faculty and the support of peer-reviewed workshop sessions. If you can, try to use these seminars to write chapters of your thesis. Present at as many academic conferences as possible. This is a great way to test your ideas, strengthen your scholarship. It is also a great way to meet scholars with similar research interest and to participate in the marketplace of historical discourse. 

Describe your experience in three (3) words or phrases:
"Learning through love"