American Studies Alumni Profiles

Elise Burmeier

Elise Burmeier '05

Librarian at George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia

When I was in high school, I had no real idea what I wanted to be when I grew up. I remember poring over academic bulletins to see which colleges had programs that I could envision myself taking courses in. I wanted something that could satisfy my enjoyment of history and English courses as well as allow me the flexibility to take courses in cultural studies, anthropology, sociology, foreign languages and religious studies. American Studies at Fisher offered all of that to me.

I currently work at George Mason University in the main library’s collection development department. I also attend the University of Tennessee's School of Information Sciences distance education program, in order to earn my Master of Information Science degree. I plan to become a high school library media specialist.

Earning a degree in American Studies gave me three things that are very important in my life now. First, the flexibility of the curriculum allowed me to tailor the program to fit my needs. Second, the faculty helped me develop confidence in myself. Finally, my degree gave me pride in my abilities. When I was a senior, I decided to put forth every effort into my capstone paper to make it a work I could really be proud of. I submitted it for a college award and, as it turns out, I won! I’m now committed to putting forth my best effort in all that I do in order to achieve similar pride in my personal and professional work.


Cindy Clynes

Cindy Clynes '07

Librarian at the College of Southern Maryland

Ever since I was in high school, I wanted to pursue a career in Archival Science, but I wasn’t sure how I was going to go about it. The American Studies major at St. John Fisher College helped make it possible for me. The flexibility of the American Studies curriculum gave me the ability and the responsibility to choose my own path as I pursued my degree.

The research skills that I developed as an undergraduate were critical to my success in graduate school and in my career. After graduating from Fisher, I earned a M.S. in Library and Information Science at Long Island University, graduating in May 2009. Currently I am working at the College of Southern Maryland as a Reference Librarian where I’m responsible for implementing their first strategic plan for the College Archives.


Ann Logan

Ann Logan '06

Editor in Santa Cruz, California

I attended Fisher because it offers a major in American Studies, something that few other colleges in upstate New York offer. I liked that American Studies combines a number of disciplines like Literature, History, Politics, and Cultural Studies and explores the connections between them. The American Studies major has provided me a lifetime of material to continue thinking about.

Upon graduating, I was awarded the Rotary Club’s prestigious and competitive Ambassadorial Scholarship, which allowed me to live and study abroad for one year in the United Kingdom while acting as a student ambassador from the U.S. I was later told that my background in American Studies and the complex understanding of American society and culture it had afforded me were integral to my being awarded the scholarship. While in England, I earned my master’s degree in American Studies at the University of Nottingham, and I returned home with a top-notch education from both inside and outside the classroom.

Because of my American Studies degrees, I have a core set of skills that can easily be transferred to a variety of career paths. I’m currently in my first professional job, working as a copy editor for a company based in Santa Cruz. I’m also active in my community as president of the local Rotaract Club, which is a junior Rotary Club for 18-35 year-olds.


Ryan Lown

Ryan Lown '03

Attorney at Phillips Lytle LLP, Rochester

I entered Fisher planning on attending law school afterward. Like many law-school hopefuls, I initially chose the Political Science major. However, when I enrolled in an American Studies class that studied the Vietnam War through literature and film, as well as through history and politics, I began to see the benefits of approaching a topic through multiple perspectives. As a result, I decided to become a dual major in American Studies and Political Science, which helped me better understand the social, economic, cultural and political dimensions of American society.

After graduating summa cum laude in 2003, I attended the University of Buffalo School of Law, earning my J.D. in 2007. The skills that I learned in American Studies were essential to my success as a law student. I developed key writing skills to effectively communicate clear and concise ideas, and I developed critical thinking skills to have creative and practical solutions to issues.

I’m now a homeowner living in Rochester and working as an attorney at Phillips Lytle LLP, a firm founded over 175 years ago. My practice focuses in the area of commercial real estate, including lending and development, leasing, secured financing and workouts, condominium and planned unit development matters and general project development. The skill sets that I learned through the American Studies program have translated into my everyday life and have been vital to my success so far as an attorney.


Andy Maxwell

Andy Maxwell '05

Director of Planning and Sustainability for the City of Syracuse

I chose American Studies at Fisher, because I wanted an area of study that didn't just take a traditional, history-centric approach to the study of the United States. I wanted a curriculum that included art, film, news media, literature, music, as well as historical and contemporary pop-culture as avenues toward a more comprehensive understanding of the American experience.

My degree in American Studies helped me understand the multi-disciplinary nature of government and public service. It also gave me an added appreciation for the many diverse perspectives and opinions that make up the collage that is the American cultural landscape. My degree has been invaluable in helping me build a career as a culturally competent public servant.


Laura O’Brien

Laura O’Brien '08

Global Stock Analyst/Graduate Student

I entered my freshman year at Fisher as an undecided major and soon after, declared a major in American Studies and Secondary Education. At the time, I was interested in becoming a high school history teacher and an American Studies degree qualified me for social studies certification. In my junior year I decided that teaching might not be the best fit for me and decided to drop education, at which point I added two minors in Business Administration and International Studies. Despite this shift, I never questioned keeping my major in American Studies.

The American Studies professors are some of the most devoted faculty on campus, concerned with their students’ understanding, and sharing new and innovated ways to explore the material. Throughout my four years at Fisher, I took as many American Studies courses and electives as I could, drawn to the “all inclusive” class style which included great discussion, debates, and visuals – excellent for all learning styles.

Shortly after graduating from Fisher, I started my first job with Citigroup as a stock analyst in their Global Market Division. This opportunity allowed me to live in New York City for six months and train on Wall Street. It wasn’t long before I knew my heart truly belonged in education and I left Citigroup. In January 2010 I began graduate school fulltime to pursue a Master’s degree in Higher Education Administration at Northeastern University in Boston.


Peter Stoller

Peter Stoller '05

Communications Director for Greater Rochester Association of Realtors

I based my decision to go to Fisher because of its location, its size, and my desire to play on its football team. I spent my first two years taking classes that would fulfill my core requirements while providing me previews into different disciplines. I decided to double major in Political Science and American Studies. The Political Science courses that taught me about the structure and function of government were nice, but it was in the American Studies courses that I learned more about the people that make government decisions and why they make them.

Today I am the Director of Communications and Government Affairs for the Greater Rochester Association of REALTORS®. My role is to coordinate the internal communications for our 2,800+ members. I also serve as the primary lobbyist for the organization, interacting with elected officials on the local, state and federal levels advocating for the preservation and protection of private property rights along with ensuring the business rights of real estate professionals.

My degree in American Studies at St. John Fisher has allowed me to excel in my career at a young age. My background in American Studies curriculum helps me to evaluate our membership and to determine what message to send and how to send it to assure that it reaches our targeted audience. American Studies also taught me how to establish a position on a particular issue and convey a consistent message while addressing alternative perspectives.


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