Mercyhurst Magazine Spring 2018

In August 2017, Mercyhurst announced that it had become an “Ofcial University Partner” of the U.S. Brig Niagara. Just months earlier, seven Hurst students enjoyed a journey of a lifetime, setting sail for two weeks on the reconstructed replica of the 19th century warship that sailed and fought during the 1813 Battle of Lake Erie. Nine students are already registered to make the trip this summer, and it’s expected to become an annual ofering.

The students will enroll in Professor Ben Scharf’s course on the history of the Great Lakes, which covers everything from the native peoples who inhabited the region to its pivotal role in the War of 1812 to its current post-industrial condition. But for students the highlight is living aboard the Niagara and learning traditional seafaring skills from professional crew members. home for retired veterans since her freshman year. Her flm covers the history of the home since its founding in 1836, and includes interviews with residents, employees and others with a personal connection to the home. Sydney was also the frst Mercyhurst student named a “Historical Scholar” by the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, one of just 15 in the nation chosen to enjoy a week in New York City attending seminars and lectures and touring historic sites. Dr. Averill Earls, the newest member of the Hagen History Department faculty, will shepherd the flmmaking program. Last spring, students in her Digital History: Storytelling class used the popular new medium of podcasts to tell historical stories. The frst series, titled “Hurstories,” covered topics like Mercyhurst and its assorted hauntings, shipbuilding in the Erie harbor, Erie County & the Civil War, building the Erie Canal, and smuggling around Lake Erie. (Check them out at .) Now a social studies teacher in Mooresville, North Carolina, he says the program prepared him well. “Being a history major allowed me to take a lot of high-level history courses with great professors, do in-depth research and writing, and generally learn to act as a historian in addition to being a teacher,” he explains. “I like to think of myself as a historian who teaches rather than a teacher who happens to know history.” Keven is currently teaching world history, AP U.S. Government & Politics, and AP European History, a course he redesigned for the school. He’s also the head cross country coach, assistant coach for the track & feld team, the world history team lead, and a senior project advisor.

Students in Mercyhurst’s Public History program are front and center in eforts to document Erie’s past and widely share the stories uncovered. Dr. Chris Magoc, who started the Public History program in 2003, says his students’ senior projects often live on long after they’ve graduated. Just a few examples: • “You Are Here, We Are Here: A Portrait of Erie’s Historic Eastside Multicultural Community.” Students

partnered with the Sisters of St. Joseph Neighborhood Network to help transform the image of Erie’s east side. Erie Insurance underwrote production of a booklet describing the cross-cultural diversity of the area, and other grants will allow students to expand the efort with oral history interviews, photos and more. A comprehensive inventory of 31,000 historic buildings in Erie County, begun by Steve Bukowski ’12, who photographed and documented 500 properties in the city. In 2014 Bukowski’s senior project became the basis for the production of the Erie County Cultural Heritage Plan (adopted in 2017), and four other public history students worked on parts of the inventory and plan. “African Americans in Erie County: A Heritage Trail.” Adriana Houseman ‘11 researched and produced a driving tour of 22 sites related to the rich history of African Americans in the Erie region. Now, thanks to a grant from Erie Arts and Culture, current students will work with a team of community historians to publish an illustrated brochure and create a website featuring oral histories and additional information about the sites.

Sydney Van Leeuwen knew she wanted to combine her love of history with documentary flmmaking. So she created her own contract minor by combining courses in history, communication, photography and art. It was so successful that it’s become the prototype for a regular documentary flmmaking concentration proposed for next fall. In the meantime, Sydney’s wrapping up her senior project: a documentary on Erie’s Soldiers’ & Sailors’ Home. The topic was a natural, since she’d been volunteering at the

Keven Gregg ’12 ‘13M was one of the frst students to complete Mercyhurst’s innovative 4 + 1 program, earning both an undergraduate degree in history and a master’s degree in secondary education in just fve years. “This program seemed like a no-brainer to me,” he says. “I could get my graduate degree at a discounted price before even starting my career, so once I started teaching I wouldn’t have to worry about ‘going back to school.’”


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