Daniel Gorman Jr. '14, an undergraduate at the University of Rochester, was recently named a 2013 Beinecke Scholar. The prestigious award provides students with funding for the pursuit of advanced degrees in the arts, humanities, or social sciences and is sponsored by the Sperry and Hutchinson Company. Gorman is one of just 20 recipients chosen from a national pool of applicants; a select group of 110 institutions are invited to nominate only one junior for the scholarship each year.
Gorman, a resident of Pearl River, N.Y., is a double major in history and religion. The sixth Beinecke Scholar from Rochester, he is the first student to receive this award since 2010. Previous Rochester Beinecke Scholars have pursued graduate study at institutions such as University of California Berkeley, New York University, and Harvard. According to the program's Web site, Beinecke Scholars have "demonstrated superior standards of intellectual ability, scholastic achievement and personal promise." The scholarship, which is awarded on the basis of both merit and financial need, provides $34,000 in funding that will help offset the cost of Gorman's work toward a doctoral degree in American history.
Besides being one of the only distinguished national student fellowships for the humanities, Belinda Redden, director of fellowships at Rochester, said the Beinecke Scholarship is special because it is awarded to students as juniors. "It increases their freedom to aim for the top graduate programs that fit their academic interests and aspirations, without overwhelming concern about how to pay for their studies," she explained.
"The Beinecke scholarship will be very helpful as I begin graduate work," said Gorman, who credits his success to several professors at the University, including Celia Applegate (now at Vanderbilt), Dahpon Ho, Michael Jarvis, and Anne Meredith, who encouraged and assisted him during the application process.
Gorman's interest in history lies in the ability to look back and interpret who we are and how we arrived in the present. "The study of history can be applied to draw moral lessons about how we act in the future," he said, noting that the lessons learned from our history can be instrumental to good citizenship and how we choose to act in daily life.
Once he earns his doctorate, Gorman hopes to teach at the college level, but he is also open to a career with the Library of Congress or a museum. "You can teach many more people through a public exhibit than in a classroom," he said. Through a summer 2012 internship with the University's Rare Books and Special Collections department, Gorman acquired first-hand archival experience, transcribing documents from the Post Family Papers for online publication. He has also contributed essays and photographs to several other Rare Books exhibits, which have been displayed in Rush Rhees Library.
It's working with primary documents, like the Post Papers, that inspires much of Gorman's studies. In spring 2013, he traveled to the National Conference on Undergraduate Research to present work on pulp fiction in the 1800s. His research focused on the influence these dime novels had on the work of Mark Twain. "Looking at primary documents, like the dime novels, instead of just recycling your textbooks makes homework a lot more interesting," Gorman said. He also presented a paper at NCUR in 2012 about the speechwriting of Franklin Roosevelt.
Next year, Gorman will begin work on his senior thesis, which will explore Upstate New York's religious history. Noting Mormons, Spiritualists, and Quakers all have strong ties in the region, he plans to look for connections between the religious culture of the area and political and social movements, like abolitionism.
Currently ranked in the top 3 percent of his class, the perennial Dean's List student was among 17 sophomores awarded Rochester's Iota Book Award in fall 2011 for outstanding academic work, as well as demonstration of humanistic values and leadership potential in extra-curricular pursuits throughout the freshman year. Gorman also has been inducted into the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, the Golden Key International Honour Society, and the national history society, Phi Alpha Theta.
In addition to his studies, Gorman is a senior staff writer for the Campus Times and a member of the Protestant Chapel Community and Undergraduate Religion and Classics Council. He takes cello lessons at the Eastman School of Music and performs with the River Campus student organization, No Jackets Required. Beyond campus, he is a contributing writer for The Daily Pulp.
"What sets Dan apart is that behind the impressive academic and extra-curricular records is a young man with a fierce, deeply curious intellect who continuously seeks to learn more, challenge himself, and be challenged by others with different perspectives," said Redden. "In the University nominating letter, we observed that Dan could be the Rochester poster boy for undergraduate research, for he simply loves everything about the process and is so generous in sharing not only the fruits of his intellectual labor but also his great enthusiasm for the endeavor."
The Beinecke Scholarship was created in honor of Edwin, Frederick, and Walter Beinecke, who all served in leadership capacities at the Sperry and Hutchinson Company. More than 500 students have been chosen for the scholarship since its inception in 1971.