Students Document Histories of Area Residents

ccel  By Molly Scott '17

  Students enrolled in Dr. Sally Dwyer-McNulty’s U.S Women’s
  History class during the Fall 2015 semester not only read
  about women’s history but actively participated in documenting
  it as well. The students conducted oral histories of individuals
  living in the Hudson River Valley area. Nine groups interviewed
  eight women and one man from a multitude of backgrounds
  including local business, health, education, and politics. Pictured
  at left are students Jeraldo Vasquez '18 and Miranda Perez '18
  with Mr. Thomas Wade, who served as Marist's Dean of Students
  in 1968, the first year that the College became fully co-educational.

Although Dr. Dwyer-McNulty has taught this course in the past, this was the first time she included a community engagement component. She redesigned the course as part of her work as a Faculty Fellow for Marist’s Center for Civic Engagement and Leadership (CCEL). The primary goal of this Community Based Learning class was to combine the in-class academic
experience with an active, reflective component. This encourages students not only to make connections between lived
experience and historical texts, but also to give something back to the community. Altogether, twelve faculty fellows will
offer courses in different disciplines throughout the 2015-2016 school year that have been redesigned to include Community
Based Learning. Dr. Melissa Gaeke, Director of the CCEL, noted that this form of learning “deepens what students learn in an interactive and personal way and makes the experience much more exciting.” Dr. Dwyer-McNulty agrees that adding the
community component created unique learning opportunities for students to hone their communications skills, conduct research-based interviews, handle technical issues on location, and meet new people.

ccel  In order to prepare students to effectively conduct these oral
  histories, Dr. Dwyer-McNulty held classes on troubleshooting
  the kinds of issues that one can face with oral history, learning
  about the different technological tools and apps that could be
  used to conduct the interviews, and writing good interview
  questions. The class has been revised to contain this oral history
  component as well as, Dr. Dwyer-McNulty notes, having students
  “write a final paper called a ‘Connection Reflection paper’ which
  connects themes and issues that we have talked about, with regard
  to women’s history, to the experiences of contemporary women.”
  Students and Dr. Dwyer-McNulty agree that their efforts were well
worthwhile. Dr. McNulty’s favorite part of the project was seeing the excitement on her student’s faces and in their e-mails when talking about the success of their interviews. Jillian Lentinello '19,
who interviewed Ms.Tina Robie, Vice-President of Organizational Development at Dutchess County Planned Parenthood,
explains that “talking with someone who has helped the growth of gender equality and female choice” ultimately “changed
the way I viewed feminism and female empowerment.” Alyssa Overton '19, who interviewed Prof. Rose Marie Castano, Marist Legacy Society founding member and life coach, really enjoyed learning-by-doing: “This oral history made the class interesting because it allowed me to make a real connection with what we learned in class to a woman who did so many positive things
in her life.” Ms. Overton is pictured above, left, with Prof. Castano and classmate Victoria Lyman '18.

The students’ work will serve a valuable purpose in the larger community as well. As Dr. Dwyer-McNulty explains, “There is
so much history that hasn’t been written and these [interviews] are going to be primary sources.” The interviews will be
logged and included in the Marist Archives and Special Collections, eventually creating a repository of primary sources for
future researchers to have access to and use. This repository will preserve the stories of Hudson Valley women that have
not necessarily been told before and that might not show up in other types of historical accounts. As such, the project is an
important contribution to women’s history, giving women the chance to speak about what they believe to be noteworthy in
their unique social and historical contexts