Monday, July 21, 2014

Daemen Students Explore Multicultural Galicia

Daemen students taking part in the study abroad program in Poland travelled from Warsaw to
Przemyśl on July 11. The next day, they travelled to Lviv (Ukraine), where they spent two days learning about the multicultural heritage of the city. This was evident everywhere as students (Elaina Murray, Leigh Alexander, and Daniella Milanese) explored the Old Town with Dr. Andrew Kier Wise (Chair, Department of History & Political Science; Director of the Polish Studies Program), and Dr. Tomasz Pudłocki (Institute of History, Jagiellonian University).

For example, a monument dedicated to the great Ukrainian poet and artist, Taras Shevchenko (1814-1861), is located at the city center along Prospekt Svobody (Freedom Avenue). The statue was erected in 1992, one year after Ukraine gained independence with the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Dr. Pudłocki with students near the Shevchenko monument

Not far away, on Mickiewicz Square, a monument to the Polish national poet (Adam Mickiewicz, 1798-1855) has stood there since 1904. At that time, Lviv was the capital of the province of Galicia (which included part of today's Ukraine and Poland) in the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Dr. Pudłocki with students in front of the Mickiewicz monument
The architecture in Lviv reveals the layers of its long history. Below, students stand in front of a remnant of the medieval defensive wall.

L-R: Daniella, Dr. Wise, Leigh, and Elaina
Beneath the city, students toured cellars that have been used for a variety of purposes over the centuries -- as retreats for ascetic monks, for example -- and which today are open to the public.

L-R: Elaina, Daniella, and Leigh

Many of the buildings in the city center exemplify the important role that Lviv played during the years (1772-1918) when it was ruled by the Habsburg monarchy, with different architectural styles evident in government buildings and business centers from that era.

Street scene in Lviv

One of the architectural gems is the Lviv Opera House (below), built in the Neo-Renaissance style. It opened in 1901.
L-R: Leigh, Dr. Wise, Elaina, and Daniella

Also located in the Old Town, the Armenian Cathedral (see below) provides an example of architecture from an earlier period. The original structure was built in the 14th century.
Outside the Armenian Cathedral

Before returning to Poland, students stocked up on Ukrainian candies at the border (below).
L-R: Elaina, Daniella, and Leigh

Back in Przemyśl, students began fieldwork for their Service Learning course. This involves a mapping project to provide the precise location of graves in the Jewish Cemetery. This marks the second year that Dr. John Hartman has travelled to Poland to oversee Daemen students' work in the cemetery that his foundation (Remembrance and Reconciliation, Inc.) has restored and preserved over the past two decades.

L-R: Leigh, Elaina, Daniella, Heather, and Dr. John Hartman

The multicultural history of Przemyśl is evident in the iconography and commemorations related to World War I. This year marks the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the war, and Przemyśl was the site of the third largest system of fortresses in Europe before the war. Consequently, the city was the site of a great deal of action along the eastern front.

One of the great literary works that deals with Galicia during World War I is the novel "The Good Soldier Svejk," written by the Czech author Jaroslav Hasek and published in 1923. Statues of Svejk can be found in several cities where the novel places him along the eastern front. Below, students are pictured with Svejk in Przemyśl .

L-R: Leigh, Heather, Svejk, Elaina, and Daniella

On July 18, students attended the opening of a new exhibit (see below) on World War I that opened in the National Museum in Przemyśl. The exhibit featured the role of Hungarians in the battles for the Przemyśl fortress during the war.

L-R: Daniella, Dr. Pudlocki, Leigh, Elaina, Dr. Hartman, and Dr. Wise

Friday, July 18, 2014

Daemen Students in Warsaw

After spending five days in Krakow, the study abroad group (Leigh Alexander, Daniella Milanese, Elaina Murray, and Heather Williams) travelled to Warsaw. During their four-day stay in the capital city, students attended lectures and toured important historical sites and museums: the Jewish ghetto established by the Germans during their occupation of the city in World War II; the Museum of the Warsaw Uprising; the Old Town that was rebuilt after World War II, and many other locations around the city.

Under the supervision of Dr. Andrew Kier Wise (Chair, Department of History & Political Science; Director of the Polish Studies Program), the students are engaged in a Think Tank project that is generously funded by the Office of Academic Affairs as approved by Dr. Michael Brogan, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College.

The Think Tank Project focuses on historical memory in Poland as it relates to the world wars. Students found that in Warsaw the public commemorations and monuments focus primarily on World War II, while there is comparatively little emphasis on World War I (despite the fact that this year marks the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the war that would make possible the creation of an independent Polish state).

Future blog reports will discuss student impressions from Przemyśl , Poland and Lviv, Ukraine. The final project report will compare the exhibitions and commemorations in various cities and analyze their implications for public memory in Poland -- and also Lviv, Ukraine -- as it relates to the world wars.

Lectures at the University of Warsaw were provided by Dr. Sławomir Józefowicz (pictured below with students at the University Gate and also in one of the lecture halls).

L-R: Heather, Daniella, Elaina, Leigh, & Dr. Józefowicz

Daemen students in lecture hall at the University

While at the University, students also enjoyed a tour of Kazimierzowski Palace, which was originally constructed in the 17th century. Over the centuries, the palace has undergone several reconstructions, most recently from 1945 to 1954 after it was bombed and burned during World War II.

The Golden Hall in Kazimierzowski Palace

The University continues to expand with new construction along the Vistula River. The rooftop garden at the new library offers a splendid view of the city.

Visiting the garden on the roof of the University library

On a warm summer day, students had an opportunity to visit the royal palace and gardens at Wilanów (see below).

L-R: Daniella, Leigh, Heather, and Elaina at Wilanów

Daniella feeding the ducks at Wilanów

Beautiful Łazienki Park in the heart of Warsaw (below) also provided a retreat from the heat.

L-R: Leigh, Elaina, Dr. Wise, Daniella, and Heather

The next blog report will focus on the student trip to Lviv, Ukraine, where students visited museums and enjoyed tours that focused on the extraordinarily rich multicultural history of Galicia.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Daemen Students Arrive in Poland

Four Daemen students arrived in Krakow on June 30 to take part in the second year of Daemen College's study abroad program in Poland, which is housed in the Department of History & Political Science.  Students will spend one week in Krakow, one week in Warsaw, and two weeks in Przemysl.

While in Krakow, students attended lectures at the Institute of History. Pictured below are Dr. hab. Slawomir Sprawski (Director of the Institute of History, Jagiellonian University), Elaina Murray, Leigh Alexander, Daniella Milanese, Heather Williams, Dr. Andrew Kier Wise (Chair, Department of History & Political Science; Director of the Polish Studies Program, Daemen College), and Dr. Tomasz Pudlocki (Institute of History, Jagiellonian University).

Lectures by faculty at Jagiellonian University were organized by Dr. Tomasz Pudlocki (pictured below with Daemen students in a classroom at Jagiellonian). The focus of the program once again is "Multicultural Poland," with a special focus on inter-cultural relations in Galicia during the period of the two world wars.

Daniella, Heather, Leigh, Dr. Pudlocki, and Elaina

The program incorporates visits to historic sites and museums into the curriculum. For example, students toured Collegium Maius (below), the oldest part of Jagiellonian University.

Dr. Pudlocki and students touring Collegium Maius

Students also toured Wawel Castle and Wawel Cathedral, even climbing the steep stairway to reach the bell tower (below).

L-R: Elaina, Daniella, and Leigh

And the view from Wawel overlooking the Vistula River was spectacular (below).

L-R: Elaina, Heather, Daniella, and Leigh

There was still free time to enjoy the charms of Krakow's Old Town. Below, students enjoy a ride in a horse-drawn carriage around Market Square en route to Wawel.

L-R: Leigh, Daniella, and Elaina


Monday, June 23, 2014

Guest Blog - McKenzie Higgins (2009, Political Science)

Sometimes in our college experience we learn as much or even more from the challenges that we face than we do the from the easy successes.  In this guest blog, McKenzie Higgins (2009, Political Science) reflects on her experience with the senior capstone project. As she writes in her essay, the thesis requirement presents a new level of challenge that can sometimes snare even the best of students. McKenzie does a beautiful job explaining how she initially viewed that one "low" grade on her transcript as "black mark" that she longed to erase. She knew the end product of the research project did not reflect her true ability; and so McKenzie chose to learn from the experience, to turn her disappointment into motivation to do better. Having worked hard to amass a stellar record in her four years at Daemen College, she went forth, armed with more than just a piece of paper declaring she had completed a college degree -- McKenzie left Daemen College with the knowledge she had gained through her coursework, including that less than perfect thesis experience. And she carried with her one more thing -- outstanding letters of reference, rich with details of her accomplishments, her abilities, and her potential not yet realized. For you see, students are so much more than any one entry on a transcript and confronting a challenge is a healthy and expected part of the learning experience. Academic growth occurs when we are challenged -- and when we learn to challenge ourselves. McKenzie was neither the first nor the last student to be disappointed by an undergraduate thesis grade. Whether thesis proves to be a relatively easy successes or a significant challenge, what really matters is the question McKenzie invites you to ask: what will you take from your experience? 

McKenzie Higgins (2009, Political Science) 

Opportunity Knocks Twice

     Capstone requirements… projects, papers, and the dreaded thesis. All of these things make a student’s skin crawl. The weight on a student’s future and the magnitude of research, writing, effort, and understanding required cannot be underestimated. It truly makes for a test of will and wit.
      I fancied myself a stellar writer as a student at Daemen. I sailed through Comp 101 and made easy work of my “writing intensive” classes – even Art History 285. I felt like I had a good handle on the technical aspect as well as the substantive research and time required. I was flying high until… thesis. It was a harsh reality check. I managed to make my way through the process with the lowest grade of my entire Daemen Career (I graduated Summa Cum Laude with a 3.74). I wasn’t proud of it. My product was awful, and at the end, I would have given anything for a do-over. But, as so often said, “opportunity knocks only once.” I lived with that black mark on my transcript and it definitely shaped my future decisions. Knowing I had that poor writing sample to my credit, PhD programs looked to be far out of reach. What could I do with my Political Science degree now that I cannot pursue my dream of being a college professor? I did what the other half does with a Political Science degree – I put my efforts into law school applications and made my way to Auburn Hills, Michigan to enroll at Thomas M. Cooley Law School.
      I then spent the next three years relearning everything I ever thought I knew about school, relearning everything I ever thought I knew about how to write. I spent hours upon hours writing about things that didn’t mean all that much to me intellectually… premises liability, Michigan’s open and obvious danger doctrine, the infamous law school hypothetical: “Jimmy Ate a Sandwich, So what?” This isn’t to say I didn’t gain anything from law school or that it wasn’t an amazing experience – because it was. But there was always this nagging inner-academic that longed for the ability to re-do a thesis, to conduct that independent research and have people listen to me – and to do it RIGHT.  At the end of three years learning about torts, contracts, property, criminal law, tax and trying my hand at litigation skills, I thought I was ready to leave school behind once and for all. But, I still couldn’t get past that nagging desire to write. And mere weeks before I was ready to walk across the stage with my Juris Doctor degree, I discovered that the Juris Doctor degree is not the end of the road. There’s another law degree – the LL.M. or “Masters of Laws.”
      The LL.M. is a highly specialized degree, focusing in a very narrowly tailored area of law – usually taxation or corporate business. Those fields meant nothing to me. But then, someone told me that you can create your own LL.M. That’s it! An LL.M. in Criminal Law. So, I took up the lengthy application process and finished out my final few weeks of law school. Everyone looked at me like I was absolutely nuts. Trust me, three years of law school takes its toll, so it is completely understandable why someone would question my sanity and my desire to continue.
      I was a long-shot to gain admission into this prestigious program. Only 2-7% of attorneys in America ever achieve an LL.M. But alas, I was offered a spot and here I sit at my desk almost two years later after that acceptance, after handing in my LL.M. thesis. Yes, I said it. Thesis. I got my second chance at perfection. For approximately 17-18 weeks, I fully engaged in the art and science of researching my topic. It became the first thing I thought of when I woke up in the morning and the last thing I thought about before I went to sleep. I kept notepads all over my apartment because prolific thoughts are not contained to when you’re sitting at your computer or in a library. I just handed that thesis in and I am truly proud of what I’ve accomplished. Having another degree to add to my resume is surely something to be proud of. But, what I’m more proud of is the ability to say that opportunity can knock twice and that just because the first time you may not have the most amazing result, it is not the end.   
      Tenacity is key. Winston Churchill put it so simply:  “Never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.'' The end of your Daemen journey is not your end of opportunity. If something hasn’t gone right in your Daemen academics, it isn’t the end of the world, and it isn’t the end of opportunity. Seek it out. Take a chance. Be bold. Be brave. And never, never miss the opportunity that might knock twice.

McKenzie M. Higgins, Esq.
Bachelor of Arts, Daemen College 2009
Juris Doctor, Thomas M. Cooley Law School 2012
Legum Magistra (Master of Laws), Thomas M. Cooley Law School 2014

*Admitted to Practice in New York State and in the Federal Courts for the Eastern District of Michigan.

McKenzie Higgins (2009, Political Science)
2014 Daemen Ride for Roswell Team Captain 

To date, McKenzie is the only graduate of the History & Political Science Department to earn both a J.D. and a graduate law degree (LL.M).  Her Master's thesis, which she successfully defended in March, 2014, is entitled, "Total Inclusion: Opening Therapeutic Justice Courts to Medical Marijuana Patients in Michigan."  In addition to working as a practicing attorney, McKenzie plans to continue her scholarly research and writing.  

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Alumni Updates

Graduates of the History & Political Science Department at Daemen are engaged in a wide variety of professional careers. 

James Felicita
 (2005, Political Science)
James Felicita (2005, Political Science, Pre Law and Criminal Justice Minor) spent several years working in law enforcement and as a deputy with the the Ontario County Sheriff's Office.  He is currently completing his Master's degree in Mental Health Care Counseling and works in Clifton Springs, New York as an acute care coordinator and care manager for individuals suffering from mental health issues, substance abuse problems, and/or chronic homelessness. As part of his responsibilities, James coordinates with a variety of health care providers, governmental agencies and legal services, to ensure that those in need receive proper treatment, care and services as they transition to outpatient services or are discharged.

Saladi Shebule (2012, Political Science) is now working as a Community Organizer for Citizen Action of New York, a non-profit political organization that fights for social, racial and economic justice. Saladi is also the President of the Somoli Bantu Community Organization of Buffalo, a group which "unites, educates, empowers, and advocates for the Somali Bantu refugees and immigrants in Buffalo, New York."

Tyler Threehouse (2010, Political Science) and Timothy S. Rentschler (2010, History and Government: Adolescent Education) are among the 2014 graduates of the the University at Buffalo School of Law.
Tim Rentschler
(2010, History & Government:
Adolescent Education)

Tyler Threehouse
(2011, Political Science)

Congratulations on your remarkable achievements!
For more information about the History and Political Science Department at Daemen College, please 
visit our website

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Alumni Updates

Check out what some of our recent graduates are up to these days! 

Sarah (2013, Political Science)
Sarah Rodman (2013, Political Science) is currently a J.D. candidate at the University at Buffalo School of Law.  While at Daemen, Sarah was active in multiple campus activities (including the Pre-Law Student Association and its Annual Moot Court experience) and organized "Raise Your Voice," a musical performance to raise awareness and fight bullying. Sarah also completed an internship with the American Bar Association through the Washington Internship Institute (in 2011) and wrote her senior thesis on the crises of judicial vacancies in the U.S. district courts. Sarah is now a Summer Associate at the Law Offices of William Matar, P.C. in Buffalo, NY. 

Victoria (2011, Political Science) 

Victoria Velazquez (2011, Political Science) is currently a J.D. candidate at the Charlotte School of Law and recently completed an externship at the 6th Circuit's Public Defenders Office. While at Daemen, Victoria served in the Army National Guard and wrote her thesis on the issues facing veterans returning from the Iraq War. 

Wade (2013, Political Science) at the 2013 Academic Festival.

Wade Pietrocarlo (2013, Political Science) is currently a J.D. Candidate at the University of Baltimore School of Law.

Wade writes that his experiences at Daemen helped to prepare him for the rigors of law school: 

"My classes in judicial process, criminal law and constitutional law were immensely beneficial in preparing me for law school...having that knowledge base and foundation put me slightly ahead of other 1L law students....Our senior thesis, although unappreciated and dreaded at first, came to be an invaluable learning exercise. As a lawyer...the preponderance of your time is spent writing...Moot Court was also vital for me as I will be on the Baltimore Law Moot Court team. This transition was greatly assisted by my 3 years serving as counsel on Daemen's Mock Trial team."

Wade offers the following advice for those considering law school:

"Become an avid reader and writer. 90% percent of my time is dedicated to reading and briefing cases, and to writing and forming arguments based on my reading and research. Attending law school is essentially a full time job, so do not apply unless you are ready to commit to it entirely. However, I do still have time on the weekends to go out, grab a drink, watch a sports game or hang out with friends." 

Wade's interests are primarly focused on healthcare law and tax law, with working as hospital in-house counsel or in medical risk-management among his possible long-term career goals. While at Daemen, Wade wrote a senior thesis on medical malpractice reform in New York State.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Awards for Student Leaders and Achievers in the History & Political Science Department

The 2014 Outstanding Senior Thesis Award was given to Fuad Abdul (Political Science) for completion of his thesis, Axis of Terror: The Impact of Policy Objectives on State Willingness to Proliferate Terrorism. Fuad was the 2012 recipient of the Ruth Stratton Memorial Scholarship, presented annually to the outstanding Sophomore/Junior student in the History & Political Science Department. 

Fuad Abdul, interning at the USAFMC
Fuad recently completed an internship with the US Association of Former Members of Congress (USAFMC), which connects members of Congress with their counterparts in other countries. 

He writes: "Being at the USFMC has been an invaluable experience that exposed me to the dynamics of global and national politics. I assisted my supervisor in organizing events, including overseas study tours for US Congressmen, ambassadors, and think-tank representatives. My other duties included conducting research for the organization’s various programs as well as attending/reporting on international conferences and events on Capitol Hill. While in Washington, I also realized how skills acquired in the classroom can be applied in practice. With the guidance of the Daemen faculty, I was able to explore the realm of politics by majoring in political science and minoring in global studies. As it turned out, knowledge of both American and International politics came in handy because USAFMC simultaneously works with the national and foreign legislators. Interning in D.C. has confirmed my interest in public diplomacy and I encourage all students to seek opportunities that provide them with a real life experience in the field of their interest."

Dr. Andrew K. Wise, Chair of the History and Political Science Department
presents Fuad Abdul (2014, Political Science) with awards for the Best Senior Thesis and highest
departmental G.P.A. of the graduating seniors at the 2014 Baccalaureate Awards on May 16, 2014.

Three other students were also recognized for their leadership at the May 1 awards luncheon, hosted by the Office of Student Affairs.  

   Outstanding Student Leadership Award (Career Services): Tyler Vanice (History)

   Outstanding Student Leadership Award (Global Programs): Amber Zielinski (Political Science)

   Outstanding Student Leadership Award (Lambda Chi Lota): Jessica Todd (History) 

Congratulations to each for their outstanding accomplishment!