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Dizard Winner Pairs American Studies with Elementary Education

Adriana DeLuca ’17
Adriana DeLuca ’17

The winner of this year’s Robin Dizard American Studies Award, given to a junior or senior American studies major with a grade point average of 3.5 or more, found American studies to be the perfect match for her other major, elementary education.

“There’s a great overlap with education,” says Adriana DeLuca ’17, who just finished up student teaching a third-grade class at Wheelock School in Keene. Education majors at Keene State are required to have a second liberal arts major. DeLuca had selected English, but she took an American studies course and liked it, and when her professor suggested she switch, she agreed.

Studying the American experience through history, literature, philosophy, social science, and more not only gives her a broad background in subject matter that she’ll teaching in an elementary school setting, it will also give her insight into her young students, she says. Two of her most memorable American studies courses dealt with racial diversity and divisions. One looked at African American lives and the other at the lives of Native Americans, both of which were illuminated through literature.

“It’s good to know what kids might experience in their culture, and how to deal with a diverse classroom,” Deluca says. During her student teacher days, she adds, when she taught about Native Americans or African Americans, she had a better grasp of the subject matter.

Dr. Michael Antonucci, American studies chair and, incidentally, the professor who convinced DeLuca to major in American studies, notes that American studies majors engage with a diversified curriculum. “Adriana, and other students graduating with her, have read, written, and analyzed works produced by scholars, artists, and cultural practitioners that explore the wide range of perspectives and experiences we recognize as being distinctly ‘American.’”

DeLuca will be back at Keene State next year, preparing for a future as an elementary school teacher. She is enrolling in the Education Department’s master’s program in curriculum and instruction. As a first-year student, she remembers, she didn’t really know what direction her studies or her career would take. “I’m really glad that I found education and American studies,” she says.