The Department of History appreciates ts majors for what they contribute to the discipline. We wish we had the room to profile all of them. Honors students, however, have to meet the requirement of undertaking a special research project. With their fewer numbers and focused work, we are more easily able to present profiles that offer some sense of what all history majors learn and do. Here are two (thanks to Dr. Harland-Jacobs and the profilees for generating them). We promise more to come.


Christopher VanDemark

Christopher’s project explores the intersections between fashion, femininity, and the revolutionary body in mid-nineteenth-century Hungary. He began his study of Hungarian history in Dr. Freifeld’s class on Habsburg History during his sophomore year. Fascinated by the unique political composition of the hodgepodge Austro-Hungarian Empire, and its role in World War I, he soon began focusing on powerful Hungarian women, and their largely symbolic place in the Hungarian body politic.
Through grant funding from the Center for European Studies and the University Scholars Program, Chris studied in Budapest over the summer. While there, he met with scholars pursuing similar topics, and found primary source material at the National Széchényi Library. These sources included women’s journals published before the 1848 Revolution. Such journals became a means for radical academics and politicians to disseminate their views, and have proven critical to Christopher’s research. 
Christopher chose to participate in the honors program because he would eventually like to get his PhD in history. He believes that an undergraduate thesis will prepare him for the challenges of writing a dissertation and also allow him to hone his language skills, which are often critical to successful projects of historical research.
In addition to his academic work, Christopher is a CLAS (College of Liberal Arts and Sciences) ambassador, and was, until this semester, thepresident of The Staff, UF’s All-Male A Cappella Group.
Derick Gomez
Derick’s project is concerns the Chilean University Reform Movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s, which was a nationwide effort to democratize the administrative structure of higher education and make it more responsive to the needs of underserved communities. This movement became stalled when it began to parallel the concurrent political situation in the country and was repressed violently after Pinochet’s coup.
Derick credits his study abroad experience with aiding the development of his thesis project. He arrived at this topic after considering the historical antecedents of the current Chilean student movement, which he experienced first-hand while attending the University of Chile from March to July of 2014. As an observer-participant in the current student movement in the country, Derick had direct contact with students who were passionate in their efforts to change their society and make it more just. This personal connection provided Derick with a more nuanced understanding of the country and his research topic.
Although primarily using documents from the University of Florida Latin American Collection, which has extensive resources relating to the movement, Derick is also drawing from information gained through oral histories and personal conversations collected while in Chile.
Derick’s participation in the History Honors Program resulted from his desire to take on a rigorous academic challenge requiring sustained dedication and effort. He attributes his development as a stronger student of history to the process of writing an honors thesis. Moreover, he notes that he has also become closer to his thesis advisor and mentor, Dr. Paul Ortiz.
When not working on his thesis, Derick is a staff member at the Samuel Proctor Oral History Project, an ambassador at the Institute of Hispanic-Latino Cultures, and a mentor for the Libros de Familia program.