The College Honors Program presented Matthew Richman Wednesday, March 4 in the New Library Auditorium as part of the Inaugural Young Alumni Lecture series.
Richman, a 2005 graduate of the College and history and women and gender studies major, talked to students about graduate school and his research on “Khrushchev’s Empire of Nations: Soviet Power and the Virgin Lands Campaign in Kazakhstan.”
Richman said the discussion was a way “to speak from experience of the ins and outs of graduate school.”
According to Richman, the rigor of the College history department left him prepared for the post-grad world.
He attributed much of his success to the professors in the history department and the independent studies he pursued throughout his tenure at the College. Richman encouraged students to get involved, whether by speaking in national and local conferences or focusing on independent research.
His first year of college was dedicated to U.S. history. However, he later felt compelled to go toward the route of Russian and Soviet history.
Richman concluded that there were two options, to “drop out or learn Russian,” and decided to learn Russian. He stressed to the students the importance of learning the language of their subject.
The lecture also focused on the structure of graduate school.
Upon entrance, students take courses in their field the first two to two-and-a-half-years. The third year deals with taking oral exams, reading books and starting dissertation research. The dissertation writing takes place between the fourth and fifth years.
Richman described the battle to get a doctorate as “(not a) sprint but a marathon.”
He wanted students to consider going to graduate school for the future of higher education and the fact that it is a full-time, 10-year track program where teacher and administration roles can be held while performing independent research.
Richman found difficulties in networking, knowing the right people and “fitting into the profession.”
He advised students about maintaining good grades and high academic achievement, getting to know the professors, getting recommendations and knowing “certain things you can prepare for, and certain things you can’t.”
He advised the intently listening students to not settle but to “be in the best place possible.”