Michael Hattem, a fourth-year student in CUNY Baccalaureate for Unique and Interdisciplinary Studies, had his junior honors research paper “‘As Serves our Interest best’: A Reinterpretation of the Popular Political Response in New York City to the Imperial Crisis, 1765-1776″ selected for publication in the Columbia Undergraduate Journal of History. Over fifty students from across the country were nominated by their professors and Hattem’s paper was one of only four that were selected. Hattem was nominated by Prof. Darren Staloff, History, City College. His paper is to be published in the Fall 2010 issue (Vol. 3, no. 2). The Journal can be seen at http://cujh.columbia.edu/.
Michael Hattem is studying eighteenth-century American History; the title of his self-designed area of concentration is History of Colonial and Revolutionary America. His faculty mentor is the award-winning Distinguished Professor of History at Brooklyn College, Edwin G. Burrows, with whom he has served as a research assistant. Hattem has two young sons and, with the help of his wife and family, he returned to school at the age of thirty-one to fulfill his life-long dream of becoming a historian. He plans to pursue eighteenth-century American history in graduate school with the eventual goal of teaching and writing. Hattem feels that his maturity is his biggest strength and gives him a “determination and level of focus that seems to be common among CUNY Baccalaureate students.”
Hattem says his entire life “has been devoted to self-education.” Not only did he earn his high school diploma independently, by examination only, but he taught himself subjects like Greek philosophy and tragedy, and Marxist theory and history. He is a self-taught musician who plays six instruments; he taught himself audio engineering so he could record his own albums. As a teenager, he taught himself to read Hebrew; last year, he began his own study of Greek in the hopes of one day reading the original texts of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Plato, and Homer.
In the spring of 2008, Phi Theta Kappa, the National Honor Society for Two-Year Schools, extended Hattem an invitation to become a member (he started his college education at CUNY’s Borough of Manhattan Community College). In May 2009, Hattem, who is regularly on the Dean’s List, was awarded a Thomas W. Smith Academic Fellowship in recognition of his academic achievement. Thanks to the Thomas W. Smith Fellowship, which awards the full cost of tuition until graduation, he was able to spend an entire year researching and writing his junior honors paper.
His CUNY Baccalaureate area of concentration focuses on the formation of the American Republic and “those strands of thought which helped shape it.” These include Enlightenment philosophy, English Constitutional and radical history, and classical political philosophy and history. To fulfill his area of concentration requirements, he takes classes in philosophy and classics, in addition to history. Taking full advantage of CUNY Baccalaureate, Hattem has taken his courses at City, Hunter, Baruch, Queens, and Staten Island Colleges, as well as at the CUNY Graduate Center – commuting from his home on Staten Island. He says it is worth it because “it allows me to take advantage of the courses I need that are spread throughout CUNY and, more importantly, to develop rewarding and enriching relationships with the best professors in my field that CUNY has to offer.”
He has done research for both Prof. Burrows’ and Prof. Staloff’s most recent projects on NYC in the 19th century and the Enlightenment, respectively, and next semester will be doing the same for Prof. Carol Berkin of Baruch College and The Graduate Center. He is also a student mentor in the City College History Department Mentoring Program and a student representative on the University Committee on the CUNY Baccalaureate. Hattem’s anticipated graduation date is June 2011.
CUNY Baccalaureate for Unique and Interdisciplinary Studies is an individualized, university-wide degree for highly motivated students; see www.cunyba.cuny.edu