Honors College gives “taste of what grad school would be like”

Honors Sarah Epplin ’17 has completed her Master of Arts in Classical Languages at the University of Georgia (UGA) and is beginning a doctoral program in classics with full funding at Cornell University this Fall semester. Epplin shared that she, “decided to pursue my Ph.D. because I love the academic world and hope to become a professor. Getting paid to do research on my favorite ancient authors and teach students about the Greek and Roman world is my dream job!” She completed her B.A. in history with university Honors at Appalachian in May 2017. For her thesis entitled, "The Godless and the God-fearing: Atheism and Superstition in the Early Roman Empire," she worked with Dr. Craig Caldwell, associate professor in the Department of History, and Dr. Stephen Young, adjunct faculty in religious studies. She reflects,

“Looking back, one of the best things about the Honors College was that it gave me a taste of what grad school would be like while I was still an undergrad. The small, discussion-based classes, the high expectations of the Honors faculty, and the process of working with a mentor on a lengthy research project were all excellent preparation for grad school. It was a big challenge at times, especially as a freshman who was used to multiple-choice tests and one page essays in high school, but living in the Honors community with the support of other students and faculty close at hand made it easier. I can't imagine how much harder the transition to grad school would have been if I hadn't done Honors!” 

After graduating from Honors at Appalachian in the fall of 2017, Epplin entered the master's program in classical languages at the University of Georgia. There she gained the language proficiency required to pursue her doctorate . She reported, “I knew that I wanted to pursue a PhD and eventually become a professor... I chose UGA because they were one of only a few schools that offered a terminal M.A. in classics and their program was known for its intensive language training. Their program also offered me the opportunity to work as a teaching assistant…, which was a wonderful experience since I hope to teach at a university someday.” Epplin defended her master's thesis titled "Tertullian and the Eucharist" this past spring. For that, she worked with Dr. Erika Hermanowicz, associate professor in the Department of Classics, who specializes in Late Antiquity.

Epplin has received funding for six years of graduate work at Cornell; this includes two years of Sage Fellowships and four years of assistantships. There she intends to work with Dr. Eric Rebillard, Avalon Foundation Professor in the Humanities in the Department of Classics; his expertise is in Early Christianity and Late Antiquity. For her own research, she plans to continue the work she started at UGA on Christian sacraments and the language used by early Christian authors to discuss their practices and beliefs. 

To current Honors student, Epplin offers the following advice, especially those who plan to pursue graduate work. She stated,  

“develop good relationships with professors and Honors mentors. My own thesis mentor, Dr. Caldwell, was an invaluable source of advice and support when I was trying to decide on my career goals and going through the process of grad school applications. App State has so many wonderful, friendly faculty members who have been through the stress and pressure of grad school, so take advantage of their expertise! Don't try to figure everything out by yourself.”

Top photo features Sarah Epplin at her graduation this past May from the University of Geogia master's program in classics. Photo submitted.


Published: Aug 13, 2019 1:23pm