Two recent history majors have turned their interest and degrees in history into a successful ebook and a position as assistant museum cataloguer.

Two recent history majors, Matthew Saccaro ’11 and Melanie Derschowitz ’10, have turned their interest and degrees in history into a successful ebook and a position as assistant museum cataloguer, respectively. Each is tied to a tragic historical event—Mr. Saccaro to the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, through his 2011 e-book Acquiescing to Infamy, and Ms. Derschowitz to the 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center, via her job at the 9/11 Memorial in Manhattan.

Besides writing the e-book Acquiescing to Infamy: How Cordell Hull Brought the United States to War with Japan 1937-1941, Mr. Saccaro has expanded his stint as a blogger for Adelphi’s Honors College into writing for various digital content providers.

Mr. Saccaro self-published his book via Amazon’s Kindle self-publishing program. Priced at $1.99, the e-book has intermittently been among the top 50 bestsellers in the Kindle Store’s international diplomacy category.

Acquiescing to Infamy, Book by Transfer Alumnis
Cover art for Acquiescing to Infamy, an e-book by Matthew Saccaro ‘11

That book was actually inspired by his Honors College thesis. According to the blurb, that “day of infamy” should be remembered for “what it really was: the culmination of four years of failed negotiations, trade restrictions, sanctions and diplomatic disputes between the United States and Japan” under Secretary of State Cordell Hull.

“Professor Nicholas Rizopoulos and I ultimately decided on the causes of the Second World War in the Pacific as the topic for my thesis since it was something we were both mutually interested in and something that he, as a historian of U.S. diplomacy, had a great deal of knowledge on,” Mr. Saccaro explained. “Quite a bit of research went into it. Lots of books read, lots of solitude, note-taking, etc.”

Mr. Saccaro’s Adelphi blogging experience was fun, he said, “but what really got me thinking about Internet writing was winning a writing contest on a popular mixed martial arts (MMA) website, where the prize was a yearlong subscription to Fighters Only magazine. [That] planted the MMA-writing seed in my head” and ultimately led him to Bleacher Report.

Mr. Saccaro, a Nassau Community College transfer, started writing for that digital magazine shortly before graduation in May 2011 and became its MMA programming coordinator in December 2011.

He has since expanded his writing beyond MMA. “I’ve written some pieces for Thought Catalog [another digital magazine] and I make lots of lists on BuzzFeed,” he said.

Earlier, Mr. Saccaro worked at Break Media, where he was YouTube channel curator, working on such themed channels as Spotter Pranks. “Originally, I was hired to curate for Spotter’s action sports channel,” which he said never materialized.

His goals have changed considerably since his 2011 newsletter interview. He no longer hopes to become a professor. Nor does he see himself going to graduate school.

“I still love history, but the academic world is likely going to change soon,” he said. “Look at the student loan bubble. The resolution to that crisis won’t be pretty for college professors who are already overworked and underpaid.”

Mr. Saccaro, now working on a second e-book, said, “My dream now is actually to work for BuzzFeed. They’re a viral news website that, in my mind, has the greatest mission statement and provides the smartest content on the Internet.”

Ms. Derschowitz, who also majored in anthropology at Adelphi, became assistant cataloguer at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum—or 9/11 Memorial, for short—in September 2012.

Ms. Derschowitz, whose longtime goal was to work in a museum, moved closer to achieving that objective through three internships while at Adelphi (twice at the American Museum of Natural History). She had transferred from Ithaca College.

She worked with museum artifacts from the past (sometimes distant past) as an intern. But now she deals with modern artifacts from the aftermath of the 2001 terrorist attacks on the iconic Twin Towers.

In that capacity, she said in the Center for Career Development’s Spring 2013 Career Compass newsletter, “Most of my time is spent cataloguing the museum’s vast collection on their online database. But I have also had the opportunity to handle, measure and photograph objects as well,” she said.

Ms. Derschowitz earned an M.S. in Museum Studies at the University of Toronto in 2012.

“It never occurred to me how many people from my town were victims of 9/11 until after I started working at the memorial,” she said. “It just shows that you’re connected to it in more ways than you think.”

This piece appeared in the Fall 2013 Issue of the Transfer Student Newsletter.

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