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Ramapo Success Story

“I feel very fortunate to have spent my academic career at Ramapo, primarily because the intimate classroom setting allows me to know and to work closely with my students. I also enjoy the relaxed atmosphere that encourages individual mentoring; students feel comfortable dropping by my office, sometimes to talk about ideas we’ve discussed in class, but also to map out their academic coursework, internships they’re interested in, or career paths they’d like to explore. It’s also a special privilege to work with such talented colleagues, all of whom are deeply committed scholars and teachers who love what they do. They’ve always been a great inspiration to me.

It’s difficult to separate my Ramapo ‘experience’ from my interaction with students as a teacher and mentor. They’re one and the same for me, and they bring me the greatest sense of fulfillment. The best way to explain this is to focus on a specific class, History Seminar, which is a capstone course required of all senior History majors. My particular class focuses on topics in American Indian history. Most students enter the class knowing very little about American Indian history, but over the course of the semester they become much more knowledgeable, and their research projects develop accordingly. I push them, individually, to visit major archives to locate relevant primary sources, and I insist that they contextualize their topics within broader trends in historiography. It’s never easy, but through several drafts, and a lot of individual meetings, the students often produce impressive original work–work they never expected they could produce at the start of the semester. I’m proud to say that a number of them have gone on to present their research at academic conferences, and some have won awards. On the basis of their projects, I have sometimes encouraged them to apply for fellowships that they might not have even considered previously. One student this year wrote such an impressive paper that I suggested he apply for a prestigious, highly competitive Summer Scholar award given by the Gilder Lehrman Institute for American History in New York City. The student had never even heard of it, but he applied at my urging and became one of only 15 students from across the nation to be chosen for this honor. It enabled him to spend a week in New York City with prize-winning historians, engaging with rare historical documents, learning about the field of history, and touring major research institutions that support historians’ work. I just received an e-mail from him with an update on his experience. He said the speakers were all “incredible,” but perhaps most important, he wrote, “Thank you so much for recommending I apply for this–it’s been an amazing experience.” This is what teaching and mentoring look like at Ramapo. Students discover talents and experiences they never imagined before, and these open up new, exciting career opportunities and paths for life-long learning. This particular student may well pursue a Ph.D in history, thanks in part to his Gilder Lehrman award, and to the mentoring that made it possible. I might add that Ramapo has enjoyed great success in having its students accepted into this program. In the past 10 years, four History majors have won the award, thanks to the excellent education and mentoring they received at Ramapo.

Other students have found their calling through internships. A student of mine several years ago thought she wanted to pursue a Ph.D. in history, but in the last semester of her senior year she fell in love with archaeology, thanks to an internship at the Mahwah Museum, where she engaged in cataloging American Indian artifacts recently excavated in the area. She applied to a graduate program in anthropology and historical archaeology, earned a master’s degree, and is now an active archaeologist working in Virginia. Her experiences led us to develop a Summer Archaeological Field School Scholarship, supported by a donor to Ramapo. Over the past two years, recipients of the scholarship have participated in archaeological field schools at James Monroe’s Montpelier (Virginia), Fort Caswell (North Carolina), and Crow Canyon (Colorado). Their experiences have confirmed for them that archaeology is a career they’d like to pursue. None of this would have been possible without the support of faculty and the Summer Archaeological Field School Scholarship. As a side note, my former student has been active in her support of current students, and has from time to time returned to campus to talk about her experiences as an archaeologist. Thus, mentoring is not just between faculty and students, but between alumni and students as well.”

– Carter Jones Meyer is a Professor of History and first joined Ramapo in 1991. For more information, please visit Carter’s Faculty Page.

School:
Salameno School of Humanities and Global Studies

Recent Publications

Book chapter: “Art, Authenticity, and Identity at Santa Fe Indian Market” in American Indians and Popular Culture, ed. Elizabeth Delaney Hoffman (Santa Barbara: Praeger, 2012).

Carter Jones Meyer, and Diana Royer. Selling the Indian: Commercializing & Appropriating American Indian Cultures. Tucson: U of Arizona, 2001.

Book reviews and essays in Journal of American History, Journal of American Studies, Great Plains Quarterly, New Mexico Historical Review, Western Historical Quarterly, American Indian Quarterly, H-Net.

Awards and Accomplishments

Bischoff Award for Excellence in Teaching, Ramapo College, 2009
Convener of History, Ramapo College, 2004-2012
Chair, Scholars’ Day, Ramapo College, 2015-present
Editor, H-New Mexico (H-Net), 2014-present

Education

B.A. Skidmore College, 1979 (American Studies) – Phi Beta Kappa
M.A. Brown University, 1981 (American Studies)
Ph.D. Brown University, 1991 (American Studies)

Classes Known For

Introduction to U.S. History II
Historiography
America in the Gilded Age and Progressive Era
Native Americans
The American West
America Between the Wars 1919-1941
History Seminar