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Erica Rhodes Hayden, '07


I graduated from Juniata in May 2007 and began my graduate studies at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee in the fall of 2007.  I received my M.A. n History from Vanderbilt in May 2009 and am currently a PhD candidate, working on a dissertation on female criminality and punishment in Pennsylvania from 1820 to 1860.  This dissertation will explore women's motivations for committing crime, how the public perceived these offenders, and how these female offenders were treated in the penitentiary and county prison systems of Pennsylvania.  It will look at crime and punishment in numerous locations across the state to compare rural and urban treatment of female crime.  My dissertation stemmed out of my Juniata senior history thesis topic, which explored society's reaction to capital punishment in Pennsylvania in roughly the same time period.  

My education at Juniata certainly prepared me for my graduate work.  The challenging classes, readings, and writing assignments helped me to adjust quickly to the workload expected of a graduate student in history.  The history department's seminar style classes for upper level history courses also made the adjustment to graduate school easier, since all of my graduate classes at Vanderbilt were of that format.  Being required to lead discussion in some of these seminars at Juniata was helpful in preparing me to lead discussion in my graduate seminars and to facilitate undergraduate discussion sections as a teaching assistant for Vanderbilt's United States history survey courses.  Writing a year long senior thesis at Juniata provided great preparation for my graduate work as well.  In addition to helping me understand the process of developing and organizing a large writing project, the research required to complete the thesis really helped me in graduate school.  Using sources from archives in Philadelphia and elsewhere for my thesis provided me with the early opportunity to learn how to use archives and how to efficiently conduct research, which gave me an advantage in my graduate research when I started my coursework and research at Vanderbilt.  Finally, I had several internships and a summer fellowship to conduct research for my thesis during my time at Juniata really helped to prepare me for graduate school.  The professors were incredibly helpful and supportive in finding opportunities that might be of use to me and encouraging me to take advantage of them.