Over the course of this semester I have had the privilege of being taught by a professor who genuinely cares about her students. Coming all the way from New York, adjusting to college was an even larger transformation than the average student undergoes. Being over 1,000 miles away from home and leaving the comfortable relationships that have been built with your high school teachers can be rough. Yet from the moment I walked into Melissa Soldani-Lemon’s classroom I felt not only at home, but I felt welcomed and a direct sense of pride via the orchestration of the class. From the start of the semester to now, I have been instilled with useful ways to elaborate my learning not only in her class, but in all of my classes. The research projects I completed this semester have highlighted a new base of knowledge, and the better understanding I now have on American history.
Over the course of this past semester, I have researched several “casefiles” and had the opportunity to dig deeper into what was on the surface of these documents. Professor Soldani classifies a casefile as documents in history that can have more meaning then the words blatantly written on them. These casefile investigations allowed me to make connections I
didn’t think I could do prior to these projects. I was able to turn class lectures into narratives, as the lessons were not “cookie cut outs” of what a textbook claims history is. Professor Soldani displayed a genuine love for the material she taught and was able to garner the interests of the
class by making the course material relatable to the students. The lessons taught, and the research shown through this course was far more effective than a grade could ever prove.
The casefile investigations were a vital part of this class, as it captured a part of
American history that lectures simply couldn’t. For examples, when given a document like a State Prison file on a random man from the early 20th century, it can seem pointless or hopeless as to anything productive coming out of it. Yet, that statement could not be falser. I was able to take a record of conviction on one man, and figure out his whole family, where he’s from, his conviction, and why he carried out the crime. By researching through ancestry.com and other trustworthy resources, I composed a detailed explanation as to what was lying under the documents I investigated with no prior information other than the initial document given.
Over the course of this semester, the lectures were brought to life by the passion of Professor Soldani and allowed me to leave every session of class knowing that I have a teacher who cares and implements fundamentals of life into history and our school work. When peer reviewing classmate’s casefile investigation’s, I was able to see the thought process of others and how they made connections during their own investigations. Feedback is a vital aspect of mental growth, so being able to give and receive feedback from a variety of students implemented the opportunity to seek more opinions than just the one that a singular professor would provide. Every time I would start my research with a task of turning virtually nothing into something, I always would finish with thorough research, and a sense of pride on the connections I did not even know I could make.
The research that this course consisted of allowed me to develop my connection making skills, which is a critical learning strength throughout school, and life in general. The rather
cliché (and true) quote, “History repeats itself,” is supported by the fundamentals I have gained in my research, and in this class. To put my thought into simpler terms, historical education is built on making connections, and so is life. As the course progressed I noticed a pattern that everything taught or researched in the class, would somehow makes its way back into historical context sooner or later in the class.
Professor Soldani managed to make this course loaded with detail, yet manageable and intriguing for the students. I have gained valuable analytical skills needed for research in this day and age of the 21st century, thanks to this course. In a rapidly growing society, being able to break things down and apply your knowledge to a task is an invaluable skill that can’t be bought. After taking this course, I can easily say this course – but more importantly this teacher
– is more than I could have asked for in my first semester in college, and I am forever grateful for that. Professor Melissa Soldani-Lemon has shown me the future standard of what a productive college course should look like, and I am a more confident student thanks to the skills that she has helped me garner.