Andrea Schwab, Alumnus, M.A. '16


by ARTS AND LETTERS | Thursday, Aug 09, 2018

At Florida Atlantic University
CURRENT STATUS:  I work as a high school teacher at Donna Klein Jewish Academy.  There, I will be teaching several history courses in addition to AP Environmental Science.
FIRST JOB: At fourteen years old, Cici's Pizza hired me to be a Guest Greeter.  I did everything from filling up salad bars to bussing tables: the job was demanding, but it was foundational for my current work ethic, and taught me the importance of teamwork.  I worked at CiCi's Pizza all throughout high school, and even some summers during college.
BIGGEST CHALLENGE: As I begin my teaching career, I have learned how adaptive one has to be in such a rapidly changing environment.  Both technology and curent politics constantly reconfigure how educators can approach their content, and how they can better engage their students.  One of the biggest challenges I have faced is just that: learning how to reach the various types of students I have, and how to best use technology to encourage my students to think more critically.
BEST FAU MEMORY:  It is difficult to pick joust one, the History Department at FAU gave me so many experiences an opportunities.  Working as a Teaching Assistant was my first experience in the classroom, and gave me the confidence to further pursue education after graduation.  In addition to the professional development being a TA offered, I also met wonderful colleagues, many I still keep in touch with (and work with) to this day. 
WHY DID YOU MAJOR IN HISTORY?:  Originally, I went to college to study Pharmacology.  I, however, always felt I gained more knowledge from my history electives.  Aside from my long-standing impassioned interest in History, I chose to major in History as it was one of the few fields that takes such an interdisciplinary approach to essentially all facets of our surroundings.  History is intriguing for its all-encompassing nature; one can study anything from the development of ancient aquifers to the shifting nature of virtual financing. 
WHAT DID YOU ENJOY ABOUT IT?  I enjoyed the endless possibilities of research that could be done.  History makes you appreciate just how much humanity does not know of its own existence, and the freedom I had to explore so many different avenues was pivotal.  The History Department at FAU offered a variety of courses in which I was able to research a range of subjects, everything from the politics of animal recreation to the changing Greco-Roman symbolism during the French Revolution.
WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER THE VALUE OF A HISTORY DEGREE?:  A degree in history will provide one with the research skills to approach a variety of fields, event those outside of history.  Even if I lack background knowledge on a particular subject, I understand how to navigate and analyze reputable sources, and how to organize the information in an effective manner.
HOW ARE YOU USING THE HISTORY DEGREE?  WHAT ROLE DID THE DEPARTMENT OF HISTORY PLAY IN YOUR CAREER?:  Today, I use my history degree not only to teach students foundational content, but also to educate them on making connections between historical developments and their other classes.  It is critical that students can think of their surroundings in a more analytical manner, and understand how their different subjects are connected.  I am able to use the research skills I garnered to assist students in a plethora of subjects, including Biology and Latin.  The Department of History gave me the research skills, professional networks, and leadership opportunities to be successful after graduation.  The colleagues and faculty I met at FAU assisted me in transitioning to the classroom, and eventually into Donna Klein Jewish Academy itself.  The Department of History also encouraged students to present at academic conferences, including:  The Florida Conference of Historians, The World History Association, The Southeast World History Association, and the Phi Alpha Regional Conferences.  The FAU History Department became a mainstay at the Florida Conference of Historians, and recently, they published articles from two FAU graduates (myself and Rhonda Cifone).  Not only did the Department pave the way for successful conference presentations, but they also gave me the opportunity to lead and organize our students in getting there.  With the assistance of my colleagues and Department, we were able to send students to give over 22 presentations at various conferences during my tenure there.  Truly, I am grateful for having been allowed to pursue so many different opportunities during my educaton.  With the encouragement of Dr. Lowe and Dr. Kanter, I learned more about the larger FAU community, and how the History Department could be more involved.  As a way to establish better communication between the History Department and Graduate College, Rhonda Cifone and I established the Graduate History Club@FAU, which gave leadership opportunities to graduate students within the department.  I also became President of Phi Alpha Theta, and pursued an aggressive fundraising plan to send more history students to conferences around the country.  The Department of History entrusted me to represent them as a student liaison for the FAU community, and allowed me to learn about academia from the bureaucratic side.  One of the most tangible impacts the History Department had was the establishment of #FAUStarvingGrads,an interdepartmental coalition of graduate students who worked towards achieving increased wages and health insurance for TAs.  With the support and encouragement of the Department, these efforts culminated in peaceful protests, several meetings with the President and the Provost of FAU, and a one-time bonus awarded to TAs in December of 2016.  None of these events would have been possible without the networks, research skills, and support I gained through the History Department, as the research gathered continues to inform students today.
FAVORITE BOOK:  The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck has a favorite of mine since senior year of high school.  The underlying message about the importance of education and independent thought is one that has stayed with me throughout my career.
PERSONAL:  I graduated from Florida State University with a B.A. in Classical Civilizations in May 2013.  Shortly before graduating, I solidified my choice to attend FAU and work as a TA.  I began at FAU in August 2013, unsure if I was capable to making it through the whole program  Graduate school was one of the most difficult challenges I faced, but it was the most rewarding.  My experiences at FAU helped to shape my ideals and how I perceived the world around me, and in some ways, it toppled my worldview entirely.  In October 2013, I defended my master's thesis, which examined the cinematic portrayal of ancient Roman women, and graduated with my M.A. in December 2016.  Since then, I have worked as both an administrator and an educator for private schools.  I spend much of my time training for marathons, reading Stephen King novels, and working on my art.