The Chairman of NEH Gets to Know Harry

16 Jul 2015

Posted by elijah

On June 24, 2015, Dr. William Adams, Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), visited LaGuardia Community College, where I shared my experience of working with the Harry Watkins Diary project. His visit began with a discussion with President Dr. Gail Mellow, faculty, and students about the thriving humanities research programs at LaGuardia, and to tour the campus. I was one of the students who discussed the value of humanities research, and shared details of scholarly projects undertaken at LaGuardia.

As an assistant researcher under Dr. Naomi Stubbs, I was given the opportunity to represent and showcase the Harry Watkins Diary project to Chairman Adams. I presented how my internship has helped develop skills that are useful to my pursuit of a bachelor's degree. Through collecting data on the many play titles Watkins mentions in his diary, I have gained experience in conducting archival research, thinking critically about online search results, assessing the reliability of sources, and sharing my finding in a variety of formats, all of which are important skills in the pursuit of my academic goals. I also expressed how working on the first-hand account of a pre-Civil War American actor has influenced my decision to major in Sociology. It was by working on the Harry Watkins Diary project that I gained insight into the race tensions of nineteenth-century America, a topic that still resonates today. It was somewhat surprising to me that looking at the history of American theatre through journal entries could reshape my academic path.

The Harry Watkins Diary project is one example of the many unique ways LaGuardia exposes their students to innovative and exciting research in the humanities. The meeting gave recognition to the project and its importance to academic research and student learning. I am happy to add that the President of LaGuardia Community College and the Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities were very impressed by my presentation and interested in work being done on the Harry Watkins Diary project.

Photos the NEH tour are available in the link here.