Developing as a Historian at Southern Methodist University
During August 2016, Jonathan Angulo-moved from the Imperial Valley to Dallas, Texas to pursue-his master’s degree in history at Southern Methodist University. The institution is well regarded by historians of the Southwest and Borderlands because of David J. Weber’s contribution to the field with pathbreaking works such as The Spanish Frontier in North America and The Mexican Frontier, 1821-1846, as well as many others. Sadly, the acclaimed historian passed away in 2010, but his presence and care for the institution is felt throughout the campus especially through The William P. Clements Center for Southwest Studies. The center awards yearly fellowships to historians who research the Southwest as well as research grants to professional scholars and SMU students. Recently, SMU’s learning community has expanded to include the Center for Presidential History which awards fellowships to historians who research the American presidency (widely defined). When Jonathan arrived at the campus, he did not know of the many opportunities that such institutions could provide to him. Through the help of the SMU history community, he was able to learn and enjoy his graduate experience so much so that he will now continue his studies as a Ph.D. student at the university.
The two years of graduate coursework were demanding. Every semester Jonathan enrolled in three courses that normally required a major research or historiographical paper between twenty to thirty pages in length. Professors usually assigned a book per week in seminar courses. Classes discussed the assigned books for two hours debating whether the books’ arguments were thorough, successful or weak as well as examine the work’s organization. The history department also hosted between four through six book/research talks through the Clements Center and Center for Presidential History. At such events, students often received the opportunity to engage with historians by asking questions about their research processes.
During the fall semester of 2018 Jonathan was accepted to SMU’s Ph.D. program with the help of the SMU and SDSU-IV faculty. As his research continues to develop, he will research the Bracero Program (a bi-national guest labor program between Mexico and the U.S. from 1942-1964) in two borderland communities, the Imperial Valley and the Lower Rio Grande Valley (Texas.) The investigation will study the informal activities and economic ventures braceros as well as borderland workers participated in to bring about modest forms of progress in their lives and communities. Jonathan’s development and success at SMU became a reality through the foundational skills he learned at the SDSU-Imperial Valley Campus, such as book review formats, primary research experience, and transcription projects. Through the guidance and assistance of the faculty at SDSU, he was prepared for graduate school as well as the graduate school application process. With perseverance and dedication, Jonathan hopes to continue to represent the Imperial Valley community as well as publish history of the location he continues to call his home.