You can take a graduate out of Missouri State, but you can’t take the Missouri State spirit out of a graduate. Take, for example, Dr. Claire McGraw, who graduated from MSU in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in Classical Antiquities and Latin, and a minor in Ancient Greek.
For McGraw, the choice to attend MSU was an easy one. Her deciding factor? The people. McGraw says, “I liked the program on paper because of the variety of classes I could take to earn a Classics degree, but the campus visit was where I made my decision. My mom and I met with Dr. Hughes in his office (back when Classics was in Craig Hall). The faculty we met were friendly, welcoming, and eager to help me explore my interests. We talked for a long time and when my mom and I left to wander through the rest of campus, we both knew that I would fit in well.”
McGraw has always been fascinated with with the culture and languages of the ancient Mediterranean. “I initially planned to only study Latin, but Hughes advised me that “every good Roman knows her Greek” so I started that, too,” she explains.
The languages helped me become a better writer and speaker, and learn how to solve problems, but the Classical Humanities requirement helped me to understand the world in which these people lived.
The biggest lesson McGraw says she learned was that these authors and characters were three-dimensional figures who were more than just the nouns, verbs, and adjectives that describe them on a page. “Bridging the gap between their languages and culture and ours today helped me understand and work to embody in my daily and professional life the key components of ethical leadership, cultural competence, and community engagement,” McGraw says.
McGraw focuses her research on the divinity of the first Roman emperor, Augustus—how the Roman people understood and represented the emperor as god. Currently, she’s revising an article on Cassius Dio’s (a Roman senator and historian who wrote in his native Greek) narrative about the 80 silver statues of Augustus. Her next project? An examination of how the Roman poet Ovid uses the word for incense (tus, turis) in his works to cue his reader to the status of Augustus.
Currently McGraw is an instructor of classics at Louisiana State University, but she looks back fondly on her time at Missouri State. McGraw recalls, “I will always remember Dr. Nugent breezing into class with a cheerful “Hello, friends!” and learning Homeric Greek as we read the “Iliad” together. Also, Dr. Hughes’ “‘The Heroic Quest’ as Katabasis,” during which we examined classical and modern examples of the katabasis (journey to the underworld); we watched the 80’s movie “Cherry 2000.” Look it up, it’s totally a katabasis!”
I made friends for life studying Classics at MSU. We would meet in Meyer Library to study Latin or practice our Greek in IHOP late into the night. I learned how to work with others and how to solve a problem.
When asked what she misses most about Missouri State, McGraw answered: “I miss hearing Dr. Hughes play Pink Floyd during his office hours, and Dr. Carawan giving us a cheerful wave as we sat behind the PSU. I also miss Dr. Nugent asking us if we’d slept or had eaten fruit on exam days (no other professor has asked me that since).”