Scholarship and support: Arahshiel Silver’s experience with the MA in Liberal Studies

After finishing a bachelor’s degree in history “better late than never,” Arahshiel Silver knew she wanted to continue her education and began looking for a master’s program that fit her needs. She considered many factors when choosing a program, but most importantly, she was looking for the flexibility to pursue the research that motivated her. The Liberal Studies (MA) in American Culture program at UM-Flint proved to be the perfect opportunity for Arahshiel to explore her interests.

Arahshiel liked the fact that the program was offered through the University of Michigan Rackham School of Graduate Studies. She liked that, as a non-traditional student working full-time, she could take her courses online.  Most of all, she liked that she was encouraged to carve her own niche and add to our shared understanding of the world.

“I went to my professors at one point during my thesis process, and said that sometimes I don’t feel like my thesis is contributing anything,” Arahshiel explains. “They said that if I am generating new knowledge and putting something out there that hasn’t been done before, then that’s what matters.”

Professors like program director Dr. Jan Furman work with Liberal Studies students to ensure the program is meeting their needs and helping to achieve their goals.

 Arahshiel focused on the anxieties America felt in the 1960s as a result of the rapid technological and scientific progress that had been made in that time. Her approach and choice of topic were informed by the broad variety of courses the program allowed her to take. She points to a children’s literature course and another that explored American television as influences on what her research would become.

“I got to study an assortment of courses, and that interdisciplinarity is so important to me,” Arahshiel says. “The professors really care about their students, and it was so clear that they were very passionate about the content of every class.”

Even outside of standard coursework, a supportive community was there to help Arahshiel achieve her goals. With financial assistance from the CAS Opportunity Fund, she was able to travel to the National Library of Medicine to study the work of scientist John B. Calhoun.

Since earning her master’s degree from UM-Flint, Arahshiel has been working as a Student Records Specialist for Rackham in Ann Arbor, assisting other graduate students to have opportunities and experiences like those that helped her grow. “I love doing research, but I’m also passionate about helping others in their work and solving problems in education,” Arahshiel says.

If you’d like to learn more about where the MA in Liberal Sudies can take you, we are here to help. The program director, Dr. Jan Furman, can be reached at The application is also available online.