Dez Fifer

Dez Fifer

Classical Studies
Minor in Political Science & Communication


What was it about classical studies that appealed to you?

I would definitely say it was the blend of the historical past and modern-day politics that kind of got me interested in classical studies. A lot of our modern-day politics reflects what we see in the past, especially in Greek and Roman society. A cool thing about the classics department here is that it’s Greek, Roman, and Hebrew. I’m studying specifically literature and history, but yes, it’s a blend of all those cultures together, showing up in present-day politics and government.

Do you want to become a professor after you graduate? What is your career goal?

I have gotten that question tons of times, especially from family members. But I think for me, I want to pursue law. But I have definitely considered being a professor of classics. The only issue there is that when I came into the classics department, I was coming into the first semester of my junior year, so I missed a lot of the initial ancient language courses that I should have taken. I’m studying ancient Greek right now, but I feel like in order to be a professor, I would need to have at least three semesters under my belt for ancient Greek.

Would it be fair to call classical studies an old-school major?

I guess it would be, but I can see history playing out in the present. So we can call it an old-school major, but there’s still relevance in it, I believe strongly. Let’s say you went to school to be specifically a teacher. You know exactly what you’re going to be doing after graduation. You know your subject area and you can apply it. But with classical studies, and I think with any liberal arts major, it’s always looking to see how you can apply those skills that you’ve developed as a student in the real world.

What are you most looking forward to as a student at Purdue?

With classical studies, it requires a lot of deep and critical thinking, especially when you’re studying ancient languages or ancient text. It requires you to kind of step out of yourself and come in with a perspective of, ‘What were these people thinking?’ or ‘How did they function in society during this time?’ or ‘Why did they function in society in this way?’ So definitely critical thinking is something that I have picked up from classics, and I can definitely see that playing out in the real world, whatever field I end up in. Preferably law, but if I decided to do something else like business, you would still have to have critical-thinking skills.

For a high school junior or senior who is considering classical studies as a major, what do they need to know?

I think first have an understanding of what classical studies is, what that means, before choosing that major. So ask as many questions as you can while you’re in your senior year, if that’s something that piques your interest. Or if you come in undecided, during that process, really hammer in those questions and be diligent with talking to professors and even other students who are in the classics department. That would be one thing.

The second thing is let’s say you’re not a senior. Maybe you’re a junior in high school and you have language requirements. Now, I love Spanish. Spanish is one of my favorite languages, but I think we have to branch out. I know that some schools offer Latin courses or Greek. My high school didn’t offer those kind of courses because it’s an ancient language, but I’ve talked with several students here who are engineering majors who had studied Latin in high school. So if you have the opportunity or that availability to do it, I would say go ahead and even start in high school so that when you’re jumping into college, you can be more prepared.

What has been your favorite class within classical studies?

I want to say it’s ancient Greek. It’s one of those that you love, but you hate at the same time because it’s challenging, but it’s rewarding. So yeah, I would say ancient Greek, but if that were not in the picture, I’d choose the comparative literature class that I’m taking. It is a required English class, but also a classics requirement. It’s with Professor (Charles) Ross. We’re focusing a lot on Greek text and we also focus on ancient Hebrew, like the Torah, and on ancient Indian text. For me, because I’m a literature and culture track, I love seeing that blend of the culture coming into the literature.

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