Student Spotlight: Vincent Costa C’20

Vincent Costa C’20

What attracted you to Drew?

When I spoke with faculty members about the history program, I loved their emphasis on undergraduate research. I wanted to get immersed in the field right from the start, and they spoke about opportunities for research grants as well as funding for independent projects. This aspect, in addition to being a smaller school on a beautiful campus, made me realize this was the place for me!

Did you know what you wanted to major and minor in your first year? 

I knew that history would be my direction from the start, but I definitely dabbled with courses in other majors that seemed super interesting. That’s the beauty of a liberal arts school, you are encouraged to experiment and see what you may like, and I definitely took full advantage of that!

What is it about history that draws you to it?

I am drawn to history because understanding the past informs why our world is the way it is. History also provides lessons for the future. It is a fountain of knowledge which we all draw from daily.

Have you done any internships?

My freshman year I volunteered in the Children’s Gardening Program at the New York Botanical Garden, which was a continuation of work I had started in high school. That program was an amazing experience where I was paired with instructors and assisted them in teaching children how to grow and harvest their own garden plots, how to cook, and taught different lessons in plant and environmental science. My sophomore year I interned at the Museum of Early Trades and Crafts in Madison, New Jersey, which centered around children’s programming, but I also worked alongside the curator cataloging different items in the collection. Summers of 2018 and 2019, I worked at Fort Ticonderoga in upstate New York in their interpretation program. That experience was like no other. Each summer we brought to life a different year in Fort Ticonderoga’s history, presenting various programming depicting the soldier’s lives while wearing authentically constructed reproduction period garments. I have enough stories for a lifetime from those two summers alone! Outside of those experiences, I have also done per diem history programming at the New York Historical Society and at Fort Montgomery State Historic Site.

Have you done any NYC, short or longTRECs or other study abroad experiences?

All of my travel has been independent and for my thesis project – Drew-funded trips to different archives for my research. The most notable of which were two week-long trips to the William Clements Library in Ann Arbor, Michigan. My first trip to the William Clements Library was actually the first time I ever flew, so I have to thank Drew for getting me hooked on flying! Because of that funding I was able to handle original documents written by figures such as John Hancock, General Henry Clinton, Thomas Gage, Banastre Tarleton, and many others. It was absolutely awe inspiring to read and handle items written by those I grew up reading about, and this has been the high point in my history career so far. Anne Arbor is also a beautiful city full of super interesting museums, a plethora of bookstores, and great restaurants, I highly recommend it!

Did you have any mentors at Drew?

Dean Frank Merckx was the advisor to Student Government during my time as president and his lessons on life and leadership are something that will always follow me wherever I go. His dedication to the students of Drew and passion for higher education is absolutely inspiring. Likewise, my CRE Makana A. L. Agcaoili, who I have served under as a Resident Assistant for the past two years, has been a pillar of support and advice. I cannot thank him enough. Every faculty member I have interacted with has been a great mentor! From my academic advisors to Dr. Kavaloski, my German professor, all have been there to answer any questions or just talk about future goals. I consider this part of the magic at Drew.

What world issue(s) are you most passionate about?

After reading Professor Douglas W. Tallamy’s Bringing Nature Home recently I would say environmental issues are at the forefront of my mind. Tallamy’s work is basically a call to action to save plant and animal species Native to North America which are dying out due to encroachment by invasive species and a lack of habitat. I highly recommend it! We all can do our part in our own backyards to make a difference.

Would you like to share any hobbies, activities or fun facts?

I’ve been a reenactor of the American Revolution since the age of 10. You can trace almost every aspect of my life from that decision I made over a decade ago. From my studies to my career, it all stems from there.

What are some of your favorite memories of Drew over the last 4 years?

The 2019 Junior Senior Dance and 99 Nights rank up there in the top spots! On top of that there have been some great events throughout the years: Shakespeare’s First Folio being exhibited on campus, seeing the Lincoln Center Chamber Music Ensemble performing in the Arts Center, the Honors Program trips to Broadway, taking my hall to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and many more!

What are your career goals? Dream job? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

I would love to combine my love of history with my love of horticulture. Historical horticulture is something which I have been able to dabble in at Fort Montgomery and Fort Ticonderoga, and a dream job would be working in a program like the ones at Monticello or Colonial Williamsburg. Who knows, maybe one day I’ll be working in the gardens at Versailles!

What advice would you give first-year students?

Don’t be afraid to come out of your shell and try new things! I came to Drew from an all-male prep school, knew absolutely no-one, and only wanted to withdraw into myself. But my RA, my advisor, and others all pushed me into trying new things and jumping at opportunities that were available. I can safely say that I am a completely different person now than I was when I came to college, and I am eternally grateful to those that propelled me onto the path I am today.

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