Graduate School

Adam Stoddard: Understanding the World Through History

Adam Stoddard

Hometown: Cary, NC

Age: 29

Major when you attended ECU: History, MA

After ECU: Taught in United Arab Emirates

Currently: Pursuing law degree at Wake Forest University

An interest in history has taken ECU Alumnus Adam Stoddard to many places on the globe. It started when he was a student, grew when he became a teacher in a foreign land, and has led him back to school to pursue a degree in law. A knowledge of history has helped him better understand the world around him, and his graduate studies at ECU prepared him to make the most of that knowledge, share it with others as an educator, and apply it on his continuing professional path. Stoddard is writing his own history of success.
Adam Stoddard Teaching in UAE

How did you choose your area of graduate study?

I chose to pursue a Master's degree in history because I believe a knowledge of history helps people understand the world around them.  My undergraduate degree is in History Education and I felt that furthering my education in history would make me a better teacher.

What do you find most challenging/rewarding about your graduate school experience?
Graduate studies in the history department at East Carolina University was a much more rigorous process than my experience in undergraduate school.  Learning to research and write as a historian is a tedious process that can be very challenging.  On the other hand, graduate school was very rewarding due to the intimate class sizes and personal interest of my fellow students.  I was able to get to know my professors on a personal level, which made the classroom experience very engaging and intellectually stimulating.

Tell us about your experiences teaching in the United Arab Emirates:
Teaching in the UAE was the most exhilarating and personally rewarding experience of my life.  I taught Grade 12 in the Abu Dhabi public school system and was one of only two Western teachers in the entire school.  All of my students were Middle Easterners who had never spoken to an American (or any other Westerner) before so the cultural exchange in my classroom was very high.  I loved the vibrancy of the UAE and met some amazing people (including my wife) while working abroad.  In addition the pay was high enough that I paid off my student loans from graduate school in 8 months and traveled to over 20 different countries in two years.

How did your graduate studies at ECU prepare you for the UAE teaching experience and any other work you've done?
I would not have landed the job teaching in the UAE without my graduate degree from East Carolina University.  Not only did my concentration in Middle Eastern history make me a strong candidate to teach in the UAE, but my final interview for the job consisted of a thorough discussion of my thesis on the outbreak of the 1967 Arab-Israeli June War.  My masters degree also made me a strong candidate during law school admissions.  The research and writing skills that I developed in graduate school were essential to succeeding in law school once I arrived.

When and why did you decide to pursue your law degree?
I decided to pursue a law degree during my time in graduate school at East Carolina.  While my education in history allowed me to better understand the world I lived in, I decided that pursuing a degree in law would allow me to develop the necessary tools to affect that world for the better.  But first I needed to pay off my loans and I craved some adventure, so I went to work in the United Arab Emirates.  Fortunately after working abroad for two years I was accepted to study law at Wake Forest University School of Law.

What is cool about your area of study and why should people care about it?
Studying Middle Eastern history opens a door to a world that not many Americans understand, but nevertheless have strong opinions about.  Most of the United States' foreign aid flows into the Middle East and our nation has had a military presence in the region for the majority of modern history.  People should care about what effect their tax dollars and military presence have overseas.  My generation was on the front lines of the United States' post-9/11 relationship with the Middle East.  I wanted to better understand this culture that seemed in many ways so different from my own, but from where three of the largest religions in the world were born.

Tell us about any academic awards/recognitions/publications you may have achieved:
While in law school at Wake Forest University I was awarded the Dean's Scholarship and the Britt Scholarship, which together pay for half of my tuition each semester.  After my first year my grades were high enough to place me on the Wake Forest Law Review, the flagship academic journal at Wake Forest University School of Law.  In addition, I advanced far enough in the school's oral argument competition to earn a spot on the Wake Forest Moot Court board.  While on the Moot Court board I represented Wake Forest School of Law in New York City at the American Bar Association National Appellate Advocacy Competition.

What recognition are you most proud of and why?
I am most proud of my academic scholarships at Wake Forest University School of Law because they make attending law school at an expensive private university a reality for someone like myself from the middle class.

How do you think your ECU graduate education has helped you?
My graduate education has greatly helped me to succeed in law school. My research, writing, and critical thinking skills are all the result of being constantly pushed, challenged, and encouraged by my professors in the history department at East Carolina University.  Obtaining a graduate degree from ECU required my to obtain a high level of self discipline, which I have since been able to apply to other challenges I have faced since graduation.

What would you say to someone considering ECU as a potential graduate school?
I would encourage anyone to consider East Carolina as a potential graduate school.  East Carolina has deep roots in North Carolina, diverse options to better oneself through education, a beautiful campus with a modern infrastructure, and a rich and successful alumni base across the state.

Hobbies: Travel, reading, soccer, history, politics, hiking, swimming, the law.
Wake up/Exercise
Eat breakfast/Shower
Prepare for class
Read for tomorrow's class/homework
Research for professor
Work on thesis
Check emails, complete homework, relax, bed
Adam Stoddard Egypt

Adam Stoddard India

Adam Stoddard Teaching in UAE

College & Dept.: Harriot College of Arts and Sciences, History

Class: 2009

Favorite class: History of the Middle East

Professor who influenced you the most: Professor Mona Russell

Dream job: Attorney

Reasons for choosing History: To help better understand the world around me.

Your words to live by: Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.

Significant life lesson you learned while at ECU: A significant life lesson that I learned while attending graduate school at East Carolina University is to open my mind to opportunities that seem outside of the box.  While walking through the halls of the graduate school one day I saw a flyer to study abroad in India.  My graduate studies were not related to India but it just looked like a fun opportunity.  Later that week I was speaking to a professor and mentioned the flyer.  The professor told me if I was interested in studying abroad I should look into a Cairo, Egypt program for undergraduates that one of her colleagues ran each summer, since studying in Egypt would relate to my graduate studies in Middle Eastern history.  I had never heard of the program but jumped at the opportunity.  After graduation, my first job was teaching in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.  My employer told me that my experience living in the Middle East during my study abroad is what set me apart from other candidates.