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Liberal Arts

A Family History at AU

By Josh Halpren

Talia Rosen

For Talia Rosen, history comes alive in the stories of people, their journeys, and the decisions they made both large and small. The Long Grove, Illinois, freshman, who intends to major in history, comes to American University from a legacy of AU students. Her mother, Judy Millman Rosen, graduated from AU with a degree in Jewish studies as one of the first students of Pamela Nadell, now chair of the Department of History and director of the AU Jewish Studies Program. “My mom always spoke so highly of her time at AU,” says Rosen. “It was definitely on my radar when I began looking for colleges.” Rosen says she loved AU’s historical location in DC and its calm and close-knit campus. “I feel like I have all of the benefits of the city,” says Rosen. “But there is also a campus and such a great community.” Rosen first developed her interest in history while taking history courses in high school. “My [history] teachers were so passionate about what they taught. They really loved what they were doing,” she says. “It didn’t feel like I was just learning to pass a test or get a grade. I really felt like what I was learning was important.” The passion she developed for history grew even stronger as Rosen began to look beneath the surface of historical events to understand the motivations of the figures she spent so much time reading about.

“I started looking into psychology and the factors that motivated people to act the way they did,” says Rosen. “I think people are fascinating, and looking at the decisions they made and how they made them can help us understand history in a completely different way.” The short time Rosen has spent at AU has taught her a great deal about the different types of people who come to the university. “I’ve met people from all over the world,” she says. “We all come here to do different things, but everyone is so driven and passionate about what they do that it makes a really great community.” Nadell, who has kept in touch with the Rosen family since Judy Millman Rosen’s graduation, believes the size of the AU Jewish Studies Program and the Department of History plays a large role in these units’ strengths. “The Jewish Studies Program has always had a small number of majors,” says Nadell. “That gives our faculty the opportunity to really get to know our students.” Judy Millman Rosen now serves as Midwest regional director for ORT America, an organization dedicated to promoting Jewish education around the world. Talia Rosen would eventually like to become a professor of American history, writing books like those of her role models, Walter Isaacson and David McCullough. “I want to make history come alive for people,” says Rosen. “Sometimes history books can be confusing or hard to follow, but then you pick one up from an author who truly loves history and you remember why you love it too.”