History teacher Lauren Meyer has made the decision to pursue a PhD at Yale University next year. Maroon Opinion Editor Larry Milstein sits down with Meyer as she looks forward to continuing her education and reflects on her time at SHS.
What inspired you to further pursue your education?
It was something that I had always wanted to do. I had thought about going to graduate school instead of becoming a high school teacher. I like doing research and being a scholar, but I wanted to get other students excited about history and learning and I wanted to engage with students and people. Academic life can be so isolated. So I decided to become a teacher, obviously. But that piece of wanting to do my own research and writing, that would both inform my teaching and my own intellectual development, never left.
And to get super cheesy, at Boston College they used
to talk about what a vocation means. Not only just a career, or a job, but kind of what your life calling would be. They would define vocation as where your talents meet the needs of the world. So I figured I really like teaching, I really like history, and then I realized there’s this kind of need for someone to talk about gender and sexuality in an academic, but accessible, way for high school students. So, that’s sort of what propelled me to go. Plus, I’m really excited to be a student again.
So, what are the details?
You have two years of coursework and then you write your dissertation and have exams. The coursework is supposed to be pretty focused on my disciplines—American history, African American history, women’s history, and sexuality.
What made you decide which graduate program to pursue?
When you apply to graduate school, for a doctorate, it really is about who you want to work with. It’s not like undergrad where the reputation of the school may play a larger role. It’s, “Is there that professor at this school? What have they written? Are they there and accessible?” But also, Yale has incredible scholars on women’s history, African American history, and just history in general. And there were a couple of people who I had read myself in college and I now get to be their student, which is pretty wild.
What will it be like to be the one to receive grades instead of giving them?
Having to write papers instead of grading and critiquing them is going to be interesting. Also, the student’s schedule is really different than the high school schedule. People stay up really late and do work, and that is not me. I’m more of a morning person. I’ll get to subsist on Easy Mac, bubble tea, and fratmusic.com, which will be pretty sweet. So overall, I think it will be a nice change.
Is there something sentimental about graduating with the class of which you were the class advisor?
Of course! Although I really don’t look at it as a graduation necessarily because I’m hoping that I’ll be back. They’re a talented class, they’re supportive, they’re generous, and they’re fun. Thinking about the play this past week, watching them perform, direct, and produce their own play—I was just so proud of them. You know, to be able to speak at their graduation and share this moment with them of moving forward is amazing.
So what is your dream goal?
I always like to give books as gifts to people and I feel like there are so many moments where—whether it’s for my cousins or my students—I want to give a book to a student about something about women’s history or of feminism or sexuality or something that tells that side of history and without fail every time I go through this: I go to the bookstore, I look around, and I never find something that would be engaging and appropriate for young adults. So my goal is writing something that may fill that void so that students would be excited to read about, and that would awaken high school students to think about gender in a way that they haven’t thought about.
We’ll see you at the book signing…that’s the next step! We’re rooting for you.