Student Views on American Studies

Check out successful students and their thoughts about American Studies at Stetson University

Student Standouts

Dian Christensen (February 2, 1968, April 4, 1991) graduated from Stetson University in 1990 as an American Studies major. She was completing her Master's degree in Counseling and applying to graduate programs in American Studies at the time of her death in the spring of 1991. The faculty of the American Studies Department has established this award to honor her memory and to extend her influence to the generations of students whom she had hoped to teach.

In her application for graduate school, Dian gave a wonderful expression of a twenty-something's dreams and plans: "The wealth of knowledge is limitless and I believe that no one can ever learn all that there is to know, but I do want to know more, to learn more, and to have the chance to share this knowledge." Dian's entire life, including her intellectual life, was characterized by a spirit of generosity. Every new fact that she learned, every new idea that she grasped, became a gift that she shared joyfully with everyone around her. Her special love was for the broad and expansive questions that arise from the interdisciplinary method. For Dian, every lesson in history and culture was also a lesson in humanity and the ultimate truth. She learned and she taught with her heart as well as her head. Dian was an excellent student, and she was committed to these ideals.

This award is for students who carry on the tradition of enthusiastic learning and joyful sharing that Dian exemplified and that she would have nurtured in her own students. As the recipient of this award, Dian's legacy lives on.

Past Recipients:

  • 1995: Ricardo A. Whitted
  • 1996: Sharon Perkins
  • 1997: Elizabeth Scovil
  • 1998: Karen Winkle
  • 1999: Sara Cotner
  • 2000: Krista L. Brindle and Shauna White
  • 2001: Michael H. McCombs
  • 2003: Jacqueline M. Moore
  • 2005: Crystal Smith
  • 2006: Traci Blake
  • 2007: Brendan Kingsley

These students have gone above and beyond the regular requirements to do outstanding work in the evaluation and understanding of American culture.

Past Recipients:

  • 1998: Karen Winkle
  • 1999: Sara Cotner
  • 2001: Krista L. Brindle and Shauna White
  • 2002: Michael H. McCombs
  • 2003: Jacqueline M. Moore
  • 2005: Crystal Smith
  • 2006: Traci Blake
  • 2007: Kenny Lane

Outstanding Students who have served as Teaching Apprentices in introductory courses:

Fall 2005

  • Brendan Kingsley, AS151: American Popular Culture

Spring 2002: 

  • Michael Chronister, AS153: Gender in American Culture
  • Jackie Moore, AS153: Gender in American Culture

Fall 2001: 

  • Michael McCombs, AS152: The American 1950s and 1960s

Fall 2000: 

  • Michael Chronister, AS159: Campaign Watching 2000
  • Michael McCombs, AS151: American Popular Culture

Spring 1999: 

  • Marie Newberry, AS153: Gender in American Culture
  • Shauna White, AS153: Gender in American Culture
  • Diana Thompson, AS495: public school teaching

Spring 1998: 

  • Karen Winkle, AS152: The American 1950s and 1960s
  • Sara Cotner, AS259: Video Culture: A History of American Film and Television
  • Suzanne Hartley, AS259: Video Culture: A History of American Film and Television

Fall 1998: 

  • Krista Brindle, AS151: American Popular Culture

Spring 1995: 

  • Melanie Halsey, AS152: The American 1950s and 1960s

Student Testimonials

From Diane Marian, an Education Major who was an exchange student from Freiburg, Germany

I am a student of the University of Education in Freiburg, Germany. In Paul Croce's class, The 1950's and 1960's, I learned about American culture, history and politics. I learned about topics which were mostly already familiar to me, but in this class I understood how things were related and I gained detailed knowledge which led to a deeper understanding. That helped me to create a picture of America during this period and to understand American culture even better. The regular assignments we had to hand in improved my writings skills, and they helped me to revise what we did in class. Expressing a topic in my own words was an important factor of developing a deeper understanding. I found it great that this class had a balance between politics, history and culture. The projects, like playing games of the 1950's and 1960's, listening to music of that time or attending a discussion (growing up black and white in DeLand) made this class vivid and even more interesting and were a good contrast to the reading. I really liked this class because it was interesting, the learning atmosphere was very positive, and I learned a lot. Thus I would recommend it to anybody who is interested in American culture.

Liberal Arts Exposure to the Great Questions of Humankind, Which Have Been Pondered by Countless Generations of Americans.

David Keith (sophomore American Studies major) in AS 359E-03/PY 395E: Lives in Context: William James and the Cultures of Unbelief had this to say:

When I signed up for this class, I had no clue as to who William James was... I consider myself fairly intelligent but not very academic, but why had I not heard of him before? I think a person like William James, full of all his quirks and shortcomings, is an American hero... I think he knew the phrase 'all things happen for a reason.' I think he was more than a scientist and philosopher. There was a Godly essence about him. I am not sure if he even knew of his blessings. He helped so many people. For me to take this class, James continues to help others because, as corny as this might sound, I had doubts if I had any more roles in serving mankind. I felt I did what I could in my twenties and thirties. I am glad to have known a little something about William James, and even though I was only given a hint of the whole picture, he gave me a new Will to Believe.

Courses in American studies offer a setting for questioning your values in a non-judgmental atmosphere, and taking a course here might help you understand the American culture where you'll live, work and breathe... Lindsey Dixon (first-year discovery student) in AS 154E: American Environmental Issues had this to say:

All my life I have agreed with what my family's perspectives are: we are Republicans and we are proud. I believe that the government should have less control over jobs; I believe in personally owned private property; and that low taxes are a good thing. I never thought of the environment. However, since this class I have learned a great deal about what the environment has gone through and what it continues to face. I appreciate Paul Croce's clear sober and non-biased way of presenting this material, and I find myself questioning where I stand on these issues... moral needs, national security and the economy are very important but what is all of that without some place we can live and breathe?

Choosing an elective based on the topic that's right for you might enrich your career-no matter what your major is. Josh Reaser (senior communication and media studies major) in AS 370E: War and Peace in American Culture had this to say:

I can honestly say that this class ranks number three in the top three classes that have affected me most throughout my Stetson University career. As I embark in the Marine Corps, I will use everything we have talked about and the information that I got to read. I am not selling back any of the books for this class because I will be finishing them up to ensure a military career with a strong mental awareness of our past. Thank you again for your work and your class.

Study in the liberal arts, exposure to the great questions of humankind, will not only help your career; it can also enrich your life.

From Howard DeBerry, a dual-enrolled student at Daytona Beach Community College, an International Relations major

I attended the international forum on US-foreign relations as part of my AS370 course, War and Peace in American Culture.I would have to say that this was one of the best academic ventures I have experienced yet in my college career.

Student views of "Segregated DeLand" (September 2005), a presentation at the nearby Cultural Arts Center by venerable DeLand gentlemen Bo Davenport and Bill Dreggors on their memories of their hometown when it was segregated into black and white communities

Kelly Gay, a senior psychology major and music and French minor

I think that one of the main reasons for learning history is to apply what is learned from it to the present and future. If the children were able to learn such tolerance on their own at an early age, which may have helped break the back of segregation, it gives me hope that teaching tolerance to today's children could help reduce the number of hate crimes, which are unfortunately common occurrences for some minorities, in the future.

Shayna Hintze, a second-year music major

Friday's class featuring the talk about segregated DeLand with Bill Dreggers and Bo Davenport definitely had an impact on me. As Stetson students, we come to this small town and usually only learn the history of the school itself. Having these two men who have lived in this town for their whole lives and sharing their stories really shone a light on how this town has changed since the 1940s.

Kaylee Rodriguez, a second-year political science major

I thoroughly enjoyed listening to Mr. Davenport and Mr. Dreggors talk about their lives in Segregated DeLand. Having grown up in DeLand and only knowing what I have seen, it was very interesting to learn what my little town used to be like and how it has progressed. The relationship between Mr. Davenport and Mr. Dreggors is absolutely amazing. It is great that they were able to grow up together as friends and equals, despite their surroundings and cultural expectations during that era. I will never look at Stetson's campus the same again.

Colleen Allen

I am so glad that I found American Studies. I was struggling to find where I belonged, and when I found this major, my whole attitude changed overnight. I was not taking my studies very seriously before, and now I enjoy researching and talking about it with others. Sometimes all it takes is one class, and that can help you choose a major and change your whole direction. The professors in American Studies are so interested in their subject that it rubs off on you, and they always have time for students. There is never something else in the way if one of their students wants to learn.