Michelle Valletta

Although I am only in the first year of the graduate degree program in history, Rhode Island College has offered me vital opportunities as a student and graduate assistant. As a student, while working with faculty and peers in intimate and highly conversational seminars, I am developing the skills needed to master complex historical themes and perspectives. The courses and assignments are thought provoking and engaging. The professors are extremely accessible and knowledgeable and they continuously encourage students to be creative and innovative in their research and writing.

Working as a graduate assistant compares to 'on the job training' for anyone pursuing the craft of teaching. As a graduate assistant, I work closely with undergraduates as a liaison, coach, and tutor. I provided group and individual coaching sessions to help undergraduates develop their reading and writing skills. I have designed class presentations that explain the process of historical research, as well as data organization and interpretation. Each time I met with students presented new challenges and opportunities to shape my teaching techniques and style.

I have also had the opportunity to shadow professors; sitting in on history courses and observing the various teaching methods used by Rhode Island College history professors. This past semester, I observed three sections of History 200 taught by different professors. I have learned how the professors build curriculums that offer students context, themes, and perspectives on a particular historical topic. The experience also revealed how to present the same skill sets in different ways. I also learn from observing other classes; Dr. Oppenheim's Western Civilization taught me how to make connections between the topic and contemporary issues and everyday life and, in this case, keep students interested in classical history.

Overall, I could not be more pleased with my journey towards obtaining my master's degree in history. Because I hope to teach someday in a college setting, these experiences are instrumental for the future. I feel I am receiving a multi-faceted education that is not only increasing my historical knowledge and skills, but also building the foundation for my teaching methods. This program has enriched my personal and professional character, intellect, and passion to achieve my career goals.