Monday, October 4, 2010

Alumnus Profile: Nathan E. ('02) at Yale

I graduated from UE with a degree in Archaeology and Classical Studies in 2002. After that, I received my M.A. in the City of Rome program at the University of Reading in 2003 and then immediately returned to the United States to study Greek and Roman Art and Archaeology at the University of Missouri. I defended my Ph.D. dissertation there in September 2010. Presently, I am a postdoctoral associate at the Yale University Art Gallery and also a lecturer in the Department of Classics at Yale College for the 2010 fall semester.

It was only after I left UE that I realized UE’s archaeology program – one of the few in the nation – is so solid and well-respected. In the M.A. program on Roman topography at Reading, I was the only student with any background in archaeology; it gave me a strong advantage since I was already familiar with specialist vocabulary and many of the city’s monuments. During my first week in the University of Missouri’s doctoral program in the Department of Art History and Archaeology, I met another student in the program who was a UE alumna. Later, one of the professors remarked to me that they always found UE students well-prepared for the M.A. and Ph.D. programs in archaeology.

Undergraduate education is an important formative period in anyone’s life. My teachers and experiences at UE helped to prepare me for opportunities that have come my way since. In addition to the small classroom sizes, which fostered instructor-student interactions and spurred critical discussions in seminar settings, I was able to develop close professional relationships with my teachers. Prof. Steven Tuck, now at Miami University, and Prof. Patrick Thomas were my advisors. Outside of the classroom, they always counseled me on my career ambitions and provided me with strategies to meet those goals.

I owe much to UE’s high educational standards and particularly its focus on quality liberal arts education. Virtually every one of my courses demanded at least one paper of 15-20 pages in length. This emphasis on writing and independent research elicits critical and independent thought. Furthermore, Prof. Thomas and Prof. Tuck often encouraged me to pursue my own research interests in my term papers and to present findings at undergraduate research conferences. These experiences and freedoms no doubt prepared me with the basic tools to begin publishing peer-reviewed research.

After I finished my doctoral coursework in October 2006, I immediately traveled to Frankfurt, Germany to begin dissertation research, supported by a DAAD research grant. The institute at which I was based invited me to return as a waged employee after the grant expired; I worked there until I took up my present position in fall 2009. In Germany too, my experiences at UE proved to be invaluable. My advisors stressed to me that, although I had studied French as my requisite modern language, German was essential for advanced research and education in Greek and Roman archaeology. Therefore, I studied German for two years while at UE. I passed my doctoral reading exams in German relatively easily and had a foundation to improve my working knowledge of the language while living in Germany.

UE’s educational environment, which promotes critical thought, independent learning, and peer-teacher interactions, is its greatest strength. This tight-knight community of students and teachers mirrors what one finds in graduate programs and so the transition from UE to postgraduate education was, for me, relatively painless.

UE has a strong sense of academy and community; I still correspond regularly with my former teachers and the friends I made at UE.

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