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Graduate Student Profile: Ashley Serpa, History

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Thursday, January 24, 2019 (All day)

Meet UC Davis Graduate Student Ashley Serpa

  • Department
  • Program and year of study
    Ph.D., 3rd year 
  • Previous degrees and colleges
    BA History, University of California, Santa Cruz
    MA History, San Jose State University
  • Where did you grow up?
    The Bay Area
  • Where do you live now?
    Davis, CA
  • What's your favorite spot in Davis?
    My couch
  • How do you relax?
    I read science fiction and urban fantasy, which is as far away from history as possible.
  • What was the last book you read for pleasure?
    Abhorsen, the first book in Garth Nix’s Old Kingdom series  
  • What TV show are you currently binge-watching?
    The Good Place, which everyone should watch because it’s hilariously dark
  • Research interests
    Cold War U.S. and Portugal, foreign policy, decolonization and authoritarianism
  • Dissertation title or topic
    My dissertation will be on the Cold War-era tensions in the diplomatic relationship between the U.S. and Portugal that arise because of Portugal’s colonial conflict in Africa. Portugal will be used as a case study for understanding the U.S.’s conflicting stances on decolonization and authoritarian regimes
  • Please share a surprising or noteworthy fact or finding from your research
    Portugal had a rather robust propaganda apparatus operating in the U.S. during the Kennedy years which was so egregious it caught the eye of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and became an example of foreign interference in American policymaking during a series of Senate hearings.
  • Which professor or class inspired you to pursue graduate studies?
    My MA adviser
  • Which scholarly text do you wish you had written? Why?
    William Cronon’s Nature’s Metropolis. It’s probably the most beautiful academic book I’ve ever read. 
  • What's the best thing about being a grad student?
    Doing what I love every single day—it’s easier to get through the grind and moments of stress when you love what you do. 
  • What's the worst?
    Lack of sleep
  • If you weren't a grad student, what would you be doing?
    Teaching high-school history
  • Finally, please ask yourself a question - "Do you have any predictions for the near future?"
    I will be ABD and (hopefully) getting more sleep!

Graduate student profile courtesy of the UC Davis College of Letters and Science.

About Graduate Studies

Graduate Studies at UC Davis includes over 100 dynamic degree programs and a diverse and interactive student body from around the world. Known for our state-of-the-art research facilities, productive laboratories and progressive spirit – UC Davis offers collaborative and interdisciplinary curricula through graduate groups and designated emphasis options, bringing students and faculty of different academic disciplines together to address real-world challenges.

UC Davis graduate students and postdoctoral scholars become leaders in their fields: researchers, teachers, politicians, mentors and entrepreneurs. They go on to guide, define and impact change within our global community.

For information on Graduate Studies’ current strategic initiatives, visit the Graduate Studies strategic plan page.