Recap: The celebratory isolation after passing Qualifying Exams (9/18/2019)

This was me the day that I passed qualifying exams(9/18/19). The event was preceded by 12 months of reading 250 books on the history of the United States in the nineteenth century with a special emphasis on slavery and capitalism(hence my close association with supporters Ed Baptist and Calvin Schermerhorn both brilliant historians who have written field-reshaping works on the topic).

And from those 250 books, three faculty members assign 1 or 2 questions that range in theme from any of those 250 books. You are not in any way aware of what books/themes your questioners may draw from.

You wait for the question and you have 3 days to answer in 2250-2500 words per question. This all takes place in a 9 day period. Questioner 1: 3 days, Questioner 2: next 3 days, Questioner 3: next 3 days

Many people quit their program before taking qualifying exams because it is so anxiety inducing. But I passed, and this was me after that process.


I walked from Oldfather Hall, alone, to the Haymarket and got myself a beer and a salad. I sat in silence, texted a close friend (Madeleine) with the news that I passed. I paid for my food and drink and walked downtown a bit more and then drove home.


I will never forget the kindness that historian Calvin Schermerhorn(another supporter from afar) gave me when I notified him via email that I passed qualifying exams.

I did not ask him to do a twitter shout-out but he was so proud of me that he did so.

Original tweet:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s