American Studies Alums – In their Own Words (Mike Casiano)


“I have the best advisors in the world.”

Mike Casiano
Major(s): American studies and English
Graduation Date: Spring 2012
Honors Thesis: “What’s Beef: Gender & Sexulaity in Hip-Hop’s Verbal Battlegrounds”


Mike decided to major in American Studies because an advisor in the Department of Arts & Humanities (ARHU) told him it would be feasible to complete the program in three semesters. Initially shocked, Mike soon found out that the American Studies Department, in championing interdisciplinary, allows students (in fact, requires students) to take courses in other fields. His U.S. Latino/a Studies credits counted toward the major as did his courses in Women’s Studies and English. He now only had to complete a few upper-level American Studies courses and the AMST340/AMST450 courses that walk students through the process of conducting a sustained and comprehensive research project (i.e. the Capstone Project). AMST340, taught by Dr. Mary Corbin Sies, remains one of Mike’s favorite courses he’s ever taken at the University level. The course introduced him to “original research.” This meant he would have to uncover primary materials and construct an original argument—tools that American Studies helped him fashion and that could be translated into the realm of multiple professions and career paths. With the unwavering encouragement of his advisors Dr. Mary Corbin Sies and Dr. Sheri Parks, Mike was able to turn his Capstone Project into a Departmental Honors Thesis. This thesis became his writing sample for graduate school. He is now an American Studies Ph.D. student. What began as a vague recommendation from an advisor in ARHU about the possibility of finishing an American Studies degree in three semesters became a lifelong dedication to the Department of American Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park.