For two recent History Department graduates, Cambridge and Oxford are the next stops on their educational journeys
The stately facade of O’Boyle Hall has looked down upon Catholic University’s lower campus from its hilltop eminence since 1900. But in the autumn of 2021 two recent products of the Department of History’s offices and classrooms in O’Boyle will begin the next stages of their academic careers in institutions that are older by quite a few centuries. Clare Whitton (B.A. 2018, M.A. 2019) will become a student at Oxford University’s Blackfriars Hall (founded 1221, re-founded 1921) to begin study for an M.St. degree in medieval history. Joslyn Felicijan (B.A. 2020) will join Clare College, Cambridge (founded 1326), for an M.Phil. degree in modern European history with a concentration in Holocaust Studies.
For Joslyn (pictured above, left), Cambridge will fulfill a dream deferred by covid-19. Her last semester at Catholic University was the first semester forced online by the pandemic. Cambridge had accepted her to begin her degree in the autumn of 2020, but the prospect of graduate study by Zoom led her to reapply for the following year, and now she is eager to experience Cambridge in person.
Joslyn says: “I was motivated to study in the U.K. after studying abroad at Oxford. I loved my experience living in England and learning the Oxbridge tutorial system, so I knew I wanted to return there for my graduate studies. I am most looking forward to evolving my approach as a historian by working with the renowned resources, supervisors, and opportunities Cambridge has to offer.
“What I hope to accomplish by studying at Cambridge is to best prepare for Ph.D. programmes while learning how to transition my undergraduate studies into future career paths as a historian and academic. I never would have imagined attending Catholic University would lead to graduate studies at the University of Cambridge. I owe it entirely to the phenomenal mentors I am blessed to have CUA, specifically Dr. Lawrence Poos, Dr. Laura Mayhall, Dr. David Rich, and Dr. David Clark.”
Clare (pictured above, right) completed the B.A./M.A. five-year program in History at Catholic University. One of her passions is academic administration and advising: as an M.A. student she served as Honors Graduate Fellow, and more recently she has worked as an academic and career advisor in the Center for Academic and Career Success.
“I was drawn to the length of the programs offered in the U.K.; one-year masters programs are far more common abroad than in the U.S. and I knew that was the timeline I needed for this degree.
“While at Oxford, I'll be spending the bulk of my time on a master’s thesis. Having spent the last two years taking a break from history, I am thrilled to dive back into serious research. On top of that, I am so excited to be a part of Oxford's community and more particularly in the Blackfriars community! More personally, I'm just looking to push myself outside of my comfort zone while moving to a place where I have not spent much time, where I don’t know too many people. I am especially looking forward to this new adventure having spent so much time isolated and indoors this past year!”
Another thing that Clare and Joslyn share: both won the John Zeender prize for best thesis in their respective senior years, Clare for “The evolution of devotion to the Holy House of Loreto: How the papacy influenced the cult of the Holy House” and Joslyn for “‘Back then we were heroes, today we’re murderers’: Anglo-Polish historical memory in World War II cinema.” The Department’s emphasis upon putting research and analytical writing skills at the heart of its B.A. program should serve them well as they undertake the challenge of postgraduate study in the United Kingdom.
Professor Michael Kimmage, Chair of the Department of History, commented “We are proud to have two already distinguished recent alumnae of our department en route to graduate study at Cambridge and Oxford, and will be delighted to follow their progress as they make their way as historians.”