Clarksville, TN – A Gov is going to Poland’s prestigious Jagiellonian University in Krakow at the end of September. Nicholas Herrud, a recent Austin Peay State University (APSU) history graduate and Spring Hill, Tennessee, native, will begin his Master of Arts focusing on Polish studies.
Herrud applied for the Kosciuszko Foundation scholarship. Dedicated to cultural exchange through education between the United States and Poland, this scholarship was founded in 1925; this was the 150th anniversary of Thaddeus Kosciuszko’s enlistment in the American Revolution.
“I wrote a statement of interest that emphasized my desire to research and write about the Polish perspective during the Holocaust and World War II,” Herrud said. “That’s the thesis I’d like to write for my M.A.”
It was a short road to history for Herrud. He received his associate degree at Columbia State University on the Tennessee Promise Scholarship in biology.
“I was only studying it to have a decent career,” Herrud said.
Unsatisfied, he enrolled at Austin Peay State University in 2017. Herrud joined the APSU history club and met Dr. John Steinberg.
“I considered the possibility of doing something I enjoyed rather than something that would make more money. I was convinced by Dr. Steinberg that history was right for me. He gave me a contact at Jagiellonian University. He has been both a reliable supporter of me as well as an honest critic of my academic work,” Herrud said.
Herrud sees history as “the chemistry of the humanities” combining a sundry of topics to understand the world.
Herrud’s first experience with Poland was in the Summer of 2019. Joining Steinberg’s study abroad trip in Krakow, Herrud was enamored.
“I saw a city steeped in history, genocide and good food. I visited Auschwitz and Oskar Schindler’s factory,” Herrud said. His love for the nation and its history only grew.
Steinberg told Herrud that language was the key to researching Central and Eastern European history. Herrud developed an affinity for the Polish language. Steinberg mentioned in one of his classes Herrud attended that there were Holocaust sources in Krakow that were largely neglected because they were in Polish.
“Other people may shy away from seeing the limits of what they know,” Herrud said. “But this often just makes me want to study it even more. It’s all about your attitude when it comes to studying a subject that requires a lot of background knowledge like history.”
The scholarship covers tuition and a monthly stipend for a year of Polish language courses at Jagiellonian University. The courses cater to beginners. The courses Herrud takes will count toward his M.A.
“The whole purpose of going to Krakow is to master Polish and open the door to new research possibilities. I have already spent a whole semester abroad studying German in Austria, so I am ready for something more challenging,” Herrud said.
Herrud is trepidatious but believes in the importance Poland’s role in modern world history.
About 5,000 miles separate Spring Hill and Krakow. Herrud can bridge the gap, putting a little of his own culture on display. Mark Twain was right: Charitable views of men cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the Earth.
For more about the Austin Peay State University Department of History and Philosophy, visit https://www.apsu.edu/history-and-philosophy/.