History has been a big part of Daylyn Paul’s life. Growing up with a historian father meant a daily serving of newspapers – close contact with politics, the economy, and global news. Oftentimes The History Channel could be heard playing in the background at home.
The study of history became her passion after watching the film “National Treasure,” starring Nicolas Cage. The film, with its cinematic representations of the past and its treatment of national documents and events, made history fun and relatable. Two AP History classes in high school - her favorite classes - further solidified a desire to continue studying the subject at university.
Paul shares an equal passion for film production, and as a double major in Film and History, she aims to combine the two disciplines for a career in writing and directing historical features. She hadn’t always planned to double major, but after enrolling in numerous history courses, the Department of History worked with Paul so she could satisfy the requirements for a second degree.
“As a historian, I really try to fact-check the stories I tell. I owe it to the people who are watching to craft a powerful yet truthful message. Which is why I decided to take more history classes. Knowing how to do research and to write something that’s accurate is essential to me,” Paul said.
While a majority of liberal arts colleges continue to see a decrease in student enrollment and degrees awarded, Cal State Long Beach’s History Department was singled out as the only four-year public university in the top 10 national producers of history degrees that have seen an increase between 2010-11 to 2017-18, based on a recent article by The Chronicle of Higher Education.
CSULB expanded its history degree production by 15.7% in the eight-year period between 2010-11 and 2017-18, while maintaining one of the highest number of majors awarded in the country, ranking third nationally.
UCLA and University of Texas at Austin, the No.1 and No.2 history degree producers, saw a 41.5% and 39.9% decrease in degree output, respectively. The remaining universities in the top 10 also saw similar drops in degree production.
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Dr. David Schafer, chair of the History Department at CSULB, shares his views on the department’s success.
Part of that success comes from the Department of History finding the right place for students such as Paul, who are interested in studying the subject yet might carry doubts as to the potential value of the degree, particularly if they don’t intend to go into teaching.
Dr. David Shafer, Chair of the Department of History, said the department's curriculum is designed to enable students to succeed in any walk of life.
While the natural path of most history majors is to go into teaching, Shafer said the department understands many students are interested in history without the intention of going into teaching.
"We've been steadily increasing over the last five years the number of our degrees awarded, and we've been doing that by being very proactive in terms of telling students what they can get from a history degree. The skills that we provide for our students prepare them to go into any field, whether its law, media, public relations, private sector, management, the arts, or teaching," said Shafer.
Above, the 15.9% increase in History B.A. degrees awarded per academic year, including new data from '18-'19. Data courtesy of Institutional Research & Analytics
The Department of History’s vision to appeal to a larger student population shows results in the data, and in students such as Daylyn Paul.
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Paul's senior year film, “A House Divided,” was one of 10 finalists to receive a grant from the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. The short film takes place in present day, but it is Paul’s knowledge of American economics, particularly since the Cold War, that influences what she thinks about, studies and writes.
“I want to bring diversity to the screen, while simultaneously commenting on how much we all have in common, and how we all struggle with the same economic and social pressures,” said Paul.
“A House Divided” tells the tale of two sisters who bring their families together on the first Christmas after their mother passes away. The sisters are on distant rungs of the economic ladder; the older sister drops out of high school after getting pregnant, while the younger sister goes off to college and marries into a wealthy family. Economic and social tensions ensue. Paul plans to have her film ready for viewing by the time she graduates.
"If you want to succeed and are willing to put in the work, the professors here will go above and beyond helping you to succeed," said Paul.
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