Derek Taylor, PhD Class of 2021

Derek Taylor.

Derek Taylor, PhD Candidate

What drew you to graduate work at UB?

Dr. Claire Schen was the biggest single factor that attracted me to UB. Her background in the study of the religious history of Britain caught my eye when I was looking at prospective programs, but more importantly she took time to communicate with me before I applied and after I was accepted in regards to the specifics of the program, her research, and my interests. After I was accepted, she provided me with a reading list to prepare for my research three months before I started classes here. 

There were, naturally, other factors. The fact that PhD students are funded with a scholarship and a stipend for serving as a Teaching Assistant were the clinchers. 

What have been your favorite experiences as a UB History student thus far?

I hesitate to name a single moment, although each time there is a breakthrough or personal epiphany regarding my own research interests seems like the best day ever. On the whole, I would say my favorite experience about being a student here is the ongoing process of being part of the GHA while also getting to know faculty and staff in the department better as people throughout the course of my work here. Having decided to pursue my PhD after 20 years as a full-time journalist, it is impressive and gratifying to see how much of a community the department (from the most tenured faculty members to first-year students) actually is. 

What would you say to a prospective History graduate student?

I moved here from a seven-hour drive away. I was surprised to find that the cost of living in Buffalo is as manageable as it is. The combination of big-city convenience and generally a suburban feel in most areas is still attractive. If you're thinking about attending UB, search the faculty directory online and find who would best suit your interests and reach out to them. Dr. Schen isn't the only helpful faculty member, they are by and large helpful, and as I've found, willing to work to help their students succeed. For that matter, reach out to the list of current PhD students listed on the GHA website. Ask me or my peers anything specific about the school, your program, the city and region, and I'm sure we'll be happy to help.