Kelly Cantrell: My Thoughts on History at Southern Miss
Why did I choose the University of Southern Mississippi? Well, as any graduate student looking at programs and professors at several different institutions can tell you, it was a complex and very personal decision. In the end USM's history department won my heart for a variety of reasons.
The University of Southern Mississippi is a wonderful university full of opportunities for students. That being said, I based my decision on the type of career the faculty of the history department can help me launch and the personal interest they take in each graduate student's success. Our faculty includes . . . leaders in their fields. In addition to offering students the important opportunity to study under some of the brightest historians writing today, our department also embraces graduate students and encourages them to think creatively about their research. My research interest centers on the uses of food during wartime. Although no one faculty member has the same exact focus, I am constantly humbled by the steady support the faculty as a whole have offered to me during my studies. They are constantly sending out emails to graduate students advertising calls for paper from the historical organizations they are a part of and are eager to help students get papers accepted at conferences or published in journals. Inside the classroom, the faculty challenges graduate students to gain a broader understanding of history and their place as future historians within the historiography.
Apart from the history department's stellar academic standing and the wonderful learning environment the faculty foster, the university as a whole has a very collegial feeling. The university boasts both a library and an archive, with a team of librarians and archivists that are always willing to dig through the shelves to help find exactly what you need for your research. The university also holds a substantial number of oral histories, and graduate students from the history department receive fellowships and training in oral history. The history department also hosts the War and Society Lecture Series that brings some of the most prolific writers in that field to the university. The graduate students are given the chance to meet and socialize with these people during their stay in Hattiesburg.
The graduate student community is also one of the reasons I choose USM's history program. We are a very friendly group, always open to sharing ideas, giving constructive critiques, and generally working to help each other achieve our goals.
Overall I feel as though USM's history department fit my idea of graduate education. The faculty is the best, they expect the best, and they cheer on their students through the difficult process of becoming historians. The University of Southern Mississippi's history department truly provides an environment where I feel comfortable expressing my ideas and confident in the education I am receiving.
Kelly Cantrell, PhD Candidate