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A Classical Metamorphosis: From Psychology to Classical Studies

By Curtis Whitacre –

It seems like every high school tells its seniors to decide on a major before graduating - before they’ve even started considering which colleges to attend, if any at all. My high school was no exception. Looking to my future and exploring my options with loved ones, I eventually stumbled onto the idea of a Psychology major. I always liked psychology and the idea of helping people so it seemed like the perfect fit. Senior year came and went and with my high school diploma in hand I was off to attend Trinity University in the fall of 2014.

I spent the next two years at Trinity working towards that coveted Psychology degree. However, I managed to sneak in a lower division Latin course during my first semester. I had always been interested in the language as a hobby, so I jumped at the first opportunity to learn it in an academic setting.

As time passed, I found myself filling up my schedule with more and more Classics courses. Statistics and heavy textbooks were replaced with Ancient Greek and Latin poetry and prose. I had fallen by the wayside of my original path, but much to my surprise, I had transformed from a budding Psychologist into a flourishing Classicist.

I dropped the Psychology major and declared a Classical Languages major in the same breath. A whole new world had been opened and welcomed me with open arms. I became the Vice President of the HOMER society, a club dedicated to working with ancient manuscripts. I composed an english translation for a section of an untranslated 12th century Latin manuscript as a final project under Andrew Kraebel, professor in the English department. I enrolled in so many amazing courses that explored the beauty of ancient language and the persisting effect of the classical world on today’s pop culture. I was even able to publish my work in the San Antonio Current, with the help and encouragement of Thomas Jenkins, professor in the Classics department.

Tim O'Sullivan, Ruben Dupertuis, Caroline Kerley, Curtis Whitacre, Andrew Tao, Roman World Lab, Classics, Humanities, Undergraduate Research
The Roman World Lab, curtesy of Dr. Dupertuis.
Back left to right: Tim O'Sullivan, Ph.D., Ruben Dupertuis. Ph.D. Front left to right: Caroline Kerley, Curtis Whitacre, Andrew Tao.
It only took one year for my entire perspective to shift, my identify to metamorphose. I’m now working with Tim O’Sullivan, professor of Classics and Ruben Dupertuis, professor in the Religion department in the Roman World Lab, a product of the Mellon Initiative’s Undergraduate Humanities Research program. For ten weeks, we’ll be working on the unique intersection of early Christianity and the Ancient narrative, as well as exploring the exceptional works of the Gospel of Peter and Book 11 of Apuleius’ The Golden Ass.

Andrew Kraebel, Curtis Whitacre, Latin, Translation,
Professor Kraebel and Curtis Whitacre looking over their translation work.
As the summer moves forward, I hope to continue working hard at my newfound passion. Working in the Roman Word Lab has exposed me to new areas of study that I otherwise wouldn’t have considered a necessary part of my education. Not only am I strengthening my Latin and Ancient Greek abilities, I’m also fostering an appreciation for Early Christian literature and the Ancient Greek novel. I cannot imagine what my future has in store for me, but I know that Trinity has so many more surprises just beyond that rosy fingered dawn, and I can’t wait to fly headfirst beyond the horizon.

About Curtis
Curtis Whitacre is a rising Senior and Classical Languages major from Costa Mesa, California and hopes to attend graduate school in Classics after graduation. He is the Vice President of the HOMER society here at Trinity, has been published in the San Antonio Current on classical reception in modern day comics, and works in the Roman World lab with his professors and fellow peers this summer. In his time off he enjoys playing Dungeons & Dragons, creating art, writing, and learning new languages.

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