A student led group for students

About the 2022-2023 Peer Mentors

The CUNY Graduate Center History Department’s Peer Mentor Program was founded during the 2014-2015 academic year. A handful of students saw the opportunity for increased constructive communication between students and sought to create an environment where information could be shared and guidance could be provided in a supportive, open, candid manner. Over the course of that year, students took initiative to build a series of workshops dedicated to the First Year Experience, prepping for exams, and teaching undergraduates.

In the years since, the program has grown to include workshops focusing on writing, publishing, conferences, and grants. We have also partnered with a student-led initiative known as Teaching Conversations, which became an official part of our offerings for 2016–2017.

The program as a whole can be contacted at gchistorymentors@gmail.com. Do not hesitate to send us your questions or say hello when you see us in the history lounge!

We’re looking forward to working with you this year!

Meet the mentors


Carli Snyder

I’m a PhD candidate in the History program researching feminist scholars and activists’ roles in the development of American Holocaust consciousness during the 1970s, 80s, and 90s. I have taught world and American history classes at Brooklyn College and Baruch College. Currently, I work at the American Social History Project as a researcher and writer. I am happy to discuss teaching, exam preparation, work-life balance, and anything else that comes up! You can reach me at csnyder1@gradcenter.cuny.edu

Orals Committee: Prof. Gunja SenGupta (Early U.S.), Prof. Anne Valk (Post-Reconstruction U.S.), Prof. Julia Sneeringer (Modern Europe), Prof. Dagmar Herzog (Dissertation Field)


Madeline Lafuse
I’m a fifth-year Americanist who researches enslaved women and poison in 19th century New Orleans and who teaches Foundations of US History at Lehman College. I can speak from experience about coming to the history program with little undergraduate preparation in the discipline, embracing the joys and sorrows of cultural history, and I am also always up for a Zoom. Feel free to contact me at mlafuse@gradcenter.cuny.edu.


Madeline DeDe-Panken
I’m a seventh year Americanist with a focus on women and gender and interests in public history. My work explores the gendered dimensions of mycological science as part of an American food fad at the turn of the twentieth century, which is why you may hear me referred to as “Mushroom Mady.” I teach at Lehman College and have twice served as co-coordinator of the Peer Mentor Program. I am happy to chat about teaching, public history, organization strategies for life and research, managing grad student anxieties, contending with the two body problem, or anything else on your mind. Reach out anytime – mdedepanken@gradcenter.cuny.edu


Adam Kocurek
I am a fifth-year American History PhD student who focuses on 20th century social movements, LGBT history, and history of labor, sexuality and gender. In addition to the American History PhD, I am pursuing the certificate in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies offered at The Graduate Center. I currently am a Teaching Assistant at Hunter College for Modern American History. I can be reached at akocurek@gradcenter.cuny.edu and am happy to answer any and all questions regarding my experience at The Graduate Center, living in NYC, etc.


Cathy Cabrera-Figueroa 
I am a fifth-year Latin American History Ph.D. student interested in Puerto Rican migration to, and communities in, the United States. My research focuses on the policies and interventions implemented in Puerto Rico that created opportunities and/or the need for migration of Puerto Ricans, particularly women, in the early to mid 20th century. I am also the Administrative Director for the Center for Latin American, Caribbean, and Latino Studies. Before graduate school, I worked in Higher Education Administration so History was a big career shift. Finally, I am a lifetime New Yorker with two children, one in college and the other a teenager getting ready to graduate from high school In the Spring. Ask me about raising teenagers in the city, or anything else. I am happy to chat about anything, email me at ccabrerafi@gradcenter.cuny.edu  


Oscar Aponte I’m a fourth-year student in Latin American and Carribean history focusing on Colombia and the Amazon rainforest. My research revolves around agrarian history, rural colonization, indigenous peoples and the state, infrastructure projects, and extractive economies. I’m also interested in environmental history, history of the press, labor history, Latinx studies, and critical theory. I’m a Graduate Teaching Fellow at City College and was a Fellow at the Center for Latin American, Caribbean, and Latino Studies. Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions you have about the program or living in New York as an international student, I’ll be more than happy to help. Email: oaponte@gradcenter.cuny.edu

Orals Committee: Prof. Herman Bennett (Colonial LatAm history), Prof. Laird Bergad (Modern LatAm history), Prof. Eduardo Contreras (Latinx history), Prof. Mary Roldan (Dissertation Field)

Maayan Brodsky I’m a fifth-year modern Americanist interested in secrecy in government, with a focus on the 60s and 70s. My current project is on Richard Nixon’s interest in secrecy, intelligence operations, and control of information. I’ve been teaching modern American history at Baruch College for the past two years. I’ll be happy to discuss any GC and non-GC issues you might be facing. Also, I have lots of advice on the somewhat less-official aspects of the GC (that sentence will make sense when you get to know me). You can often find me at the history-lounge and you can always contact me at mbrodsky@gradcenter.cuny.edu

Orals Committee: Prof. KC Johnson (Dissertation), Prof. Herman Bennet (Minor Field: “War”), Prof. Marty Burke (Early U.S.), Prof. David Nasaw (Modern America)

2022-2023 Peer Mentor Coordinator

Amanda Westbrook – Co-Coordinator
I’m a seventh-year PhD candidate with a focus on US History.  My dissertation links cultural ideals about working mothers in American media from 1890-today and explores the racialized nature of their creation.  I have taught at Hunter College, as a teaching assistant for both halves of US History and then as instructor of my own section for the second half of US History.  I took a leave of absence between my second year and third year after the birth of my second child.  I am happy to talk about research, exams, teaching, taking a leave of absence, my change in career path from finance, and everything in between. You can reach me at abrennan@gradcenter.cuny.edu.

 Orals Committee: Prof. Robyn Spencer, Prof. Dagmar Herzog, Prof. Gerald Markowitz, Prof. David Waldstreicher. Major Field: U.S. Minor Field: Gender

Robert Cleary
I’m a second-year student studying U.S. history, and have just begun to teach modern U.S. history at Queens College. My research is around queer community and activist movements in the twentieth century. I’m happy to chat with anyone about the experience of the first year in the program, conducting research, and what to look forward to in the second year.

Marta Millar is a doctoral student in Modern European History at the CUNY Graduate Center and a Graduate Teaching Fellow at Baruch College. Her interests include modern Germany, southern Africa, colonialism, mass violence, and public history and memory in these contexts. Her research explores postcolonial relations between Germany and Namibia, with a specific focus on the role of universities and museums in shaping public memory of the colonial past. Millar is also the Program Manager of the University of Freiburg’s North American Liaison Office and a member of the German Center for Research and Innovation (DWIH) New York Advisory Board. 

Erin Cully
I’m a seventh year PhD student researching US banking and finance in the late 20th century. I moved here from Canada, so if you are coming from abroad I can answer your questions about dealing with the International Students Office. As a peer mentor I look forward to speaking to new students about teaching, first year exams, attending conferences, academic anxieties, student activism, living in New York, and anything else that comes up. You can reach me at ecully@gradcenter.cuny.edu


Phelim Dolan
I’m a seventh year PhD candidate who works on early modern Ireland and Europe. I have returned to grad school after a career in the film and television business. My undergraduate degree was in English Literature, and I continue to take an interdisciplinary approach to my research. As a mentor I think I have (hopefully) valuable experience with pursuing graduate studies after / while pursuing another career. pdolan@gradcenter.cuny.edu


Jiwon Han I’m a fifth year Europeanist at the Graduate Center who studies 18C Anglo-Dutch financial relations. As a Graduate Teaching Fellow, I’m teaching a microhistory course at John Jay. I’m happy to talk with my fellow students about first/second year experiences, archival research, living in New York, life as an international student, or any other issue. Reach me at any time at jhan1@gradcenter.cuny.edu!



 Kate Kelley
I am a sixth-year advanced doctoral candidate in Modern European History working with Dagmar Herzog. My research centers around arts and politics in the German Democratic Republic with a focus on ballet and modern dance – and I was a dancer myself before turning to academia. I am happy to discuss any and all concerns about the program from administrative woes to exam prep as well as adjusting to the joys and stresses of graduate school in general. I have served as a graduate student representative on several committees and working groups including the Executive Committee, the Anti-Racism Working Group, and the Caregivers Working Group. Feel free to reach out anytime to kkelley@gradcenter.cuny.edu.

Orals Committee: Ben Hett (Europe), Julia Sneeringer (Europe), Gary Wilder (Intellectual History), Dagmar Herzog (Dissertation Field)


Idan Liav I’m a fourth-year modern Europeanist with background in International Relations and Conflict Research. I’m interested in the history of memory and its manifestations in relation to the Holocaust and the 1948 Arab-Israeli War; I also teach early modern/modern European history at Queens College. I’m always happy to meet (via zoom this year I guess?) and discuss challenges, teaching, and how to navigate mental health issues with program requirements (hint: get a dog). Email me at iliav@gradcenter.cuny.edu or enjoy my twitter rants @idanliav!  

Orals Committee: Prof. Ben Hett (Europe), Prof. Simon Davis (ME), Prof. Sarah Covington (Memory), Prof. Dagmar Herzog (dissertation field)

Jessica Georges
I’m a PhD candidate in American history. I’m broadly interested in the history of New York and questions around race, gender, and nationalism. My research focuses on African American colonization in the early republic. I’m happy to answer questions on the first year exams and papers, language proficiency requirements and exams, provost enhancement fellowships, orals, and living in New York City. I’m also happy to answer general questions about my experience in the program. You can reach me at jgeorges1@gradcenter.cuny.edu.

Orals Committee: Prof. Ben Carp (Early US), Prof. Tanisha Ford (Post Civil War US), Prof. Gunja Sengupta (African Diaspora/Comparative Slavery), Prof. David Waldstreicher (Dissertation Field)

Danielle Bennett
 I’m a 3rd year student studying US history and public history. My research interests are at the intersections of LGBTQ+ history and the historic preservation movement. I am also teaching Shaping the Modern World this year at Brooklyn College. I’m happy to answer any questions you have about the first year, first year exams, remote classes, teaching for the first time or anything else you might be wondering.

Tamara Maatouk
Tamara Maatouk is a fifth-year history Ph.D. student with a focus on the modern Middle East. I am interested in both the interpenetration between Egyptian cinema and twentieth-century politics as well as the use of films as serious vehicles for understanding, conceptualizing, and reconstructing the past. I am happy to chat about first-year concerns, comprehensive exam, and teaching. I can be reached at tmaatouk@gradcenter.cuny.edu

Orals Committee: Prof. Samira Haj (ME), Prof. Craig Daigle (ME), Andreas Killen (Cultural History/Film), Beth Baron (Dissertation Field)

2022-2023 Peer Mentor Coordinator

 Stephanie Makowski – Co-Coordinator
I’m a seventh year modern Europeanist and my dissertation is on interracial relationships in Britain from the interwar to the postwar period. I’ve taught for three years and did my WAC fellowship at Brooklyn College. I have also taught at The Cooper Union as an adjunct, and have filled various student worker positions at the GC. Come talk to me about anything from getting through your first year exams to adjusting to a grad student schedule or about teaching, working, or overseas research. If you have any health-insurance related questions, I have some experience navigating those waters as well. Reach me any time at smakowski@gradcenter.cuny.edu.


I’m a fifth-year modern Europeanist focusing on the history of twentieth-century Germany, specifically on the politics of reproduction and concepts of motherhood in the aftermath of National Socialism in both East and West. This year, I am also a doctoral fellow at the Berlin Program for Advanced German and European Studies at the Free University Berlin. I am happy to talk about Orals prep and proposal writing, about international student issues (visa, taxes, external fellowships, etc), asynchronous teaching, grad school anxieties and much more. Feel free to reach out to yschmacks@gradcenter.cuny.edu.

Orals Committee: Prof. Ben Hett (Europe), Prof. Julia Sneeringer (Europe), Prof. Gary Wilder (Intellectual History), Dagmar Herzog (Dissertation Field)

Miranda Brethour
I’m a third-year PhD student in the History Department who works on modern Europe, specifically Jewish-Gentile relations during the Holocaust in rural Poland. I’m an international student from Canada and an incoming teaching fellow at Brooklyn College. Please feel free to reach out to me about the program (especially the first-year exam and coursework), the shift to online courses, international student life, or with any other questions you may have. Email: mbrethour@gradcenter.cuny.edu.



Maggie Schreiner
I am a second year modern Americanist, and I am broadly interested in social and urban history, the history of gender and sexuality, and public history. My research focuses on housing discrimination and queer and trans organizing for affordable housing in 20th century NYC. I am currently a Teaching Assistant at Hunter College. I can answer questions about getting oriented to the GC and the history department, and the first year experience (such as the first year exams and coursework). I previously worked as an archivist, and am also happy to answer questions about primary source research and NYC archives. You can reach me at mschreiner@gradcenter.cuny.edu

Helena Yoo
I am a third-year History PhD student and focus on early America. I am particularly interested in questions about imperial connections, communication networks, and provincial identity. I am happy to talk about anything and everything about my experiences thus far at the GC and can answer questions about the first year experience (settling in, preparing for exams, etc) and about living in NYC! You can reach me at hyoo@gradcenter.cuny.edu.



Deena Ecker
I am a fourth year Americanist. I focus on social and urban history, and the history of gender and sexuality and have a strong interest in public history. My research looks at prostitutes, pop culture, and sexual culture in the early 20th century. I hope to turn my research into documentaries as well as traditional academic writing. I am a program assistant at The Gotham Center and teach American History at CCNY.

Oral Committee: Prof. Ben Carp (Early America), Prof. Thomas Kessner (Modern US), Professor Julia Sneeringer (Gender & Sexuality), Prof. Kathleen McCarthy (Dissertation field)


Daniela Traldi I am a fifth-year doctoral candidate working on Latin America and Women’s and Gender History. I have a broad range of interests: gender theory, women’s movements, sexuality studies, debates on race and race relations, among other topics. My research looks into gender, race and nationalism in modern Brazil. Some of my previous work explored the extent to which ideals and cultural conceptions about womanhood were politically manipulated and/ or fully embraced by the far-right. I’m also a mentor with the CUNY Pipeline Program, which provides educational and financial support to undergraduates from groups underrepresented in universities. Many of them end up choosing the academic path via doctoral programs! I’m happy to support fellow students and/ or anyone who may be interested in becoming one!

Chandni Tariq I am a fifth-year Americanist interested in the construction of alterity and racial categories across the Atlantic and Indian Ocean world. I teach United States History since 1865 at Queens College. My peers are often sending me articles that concern the slipperiness of race or when U.S. government officials are caught in blackface. Please feel free to contact me if you would like to chat about teaching or any research questions at ctariq@gradcenter.cuny.edu.  

Mentors Emeriti

Chris Rominger
I am a 2018 GC graduate and Assistant Professor at the University of North Florida. I study migration and political consciousness in the early 20th century Middle East and North Africa, with a focus on Tunisians during and following the First World War. I’m eager to help my fellow students with teaching, honing in on a dissertation topic, applying for grants, presenting at conferences, and overcoming the stresses and challenges of life as a graduate student. Feel free to email me at crominger@gradcenter.cuny.edu.

Katrina Wheeler
I am a sixth-year PhD Candidate in early modern European history. My dissertation is on French Protestant (Huguenot) religious experience during the French Revolution, particularly their use of the Psalms in liturgical and devotional practices. I am happy to offer advice using library resources, preparing for the oral exams, writing at different stages of the program, and the WAC experience. kwheeler@gradcenter.cuny.edu.

David Campmier

Davide Colasanto
I’m a sixth year History PhD student specializing in post-war European History. I have a strong interest in the history of sexuality in relation to war and violence. My research investigates how Fascism, and World War II influenced Italian masculinity from the late 1940s to the early 1970s. I have taught for the past four years at Queens College and at LaGuardia Community College. I was a Summer Peer Mentor for the GC Teaching and Learning Institute for the past two years. I’m happy to help with any question on student oriented pedagogy, first/second year requirements, orals’ preparation, and international students’ adjustment to US academic system and life. dcolasanto@gradcenter.cuny.edu.

Miriam Liebman
I am a History PhD candidate with a focus on early US History. My dissertation looks at the ways American women acted in diplomatic capacities abroad, specifically in London and Paris, during the Age of Revolutions. I teach US History at Queens College and was a Writing Across the Curriculum Fellow at the CUNY Law School. I am one of the co-founders, along with Davide, of the GC mentor initiative, “Teaching  Conversations.” I served as co-chair of EARS for the 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 academic years. I am happy to answer questions about teaching, grant applications, and exams. Feel free to email me at mliebman@gradcenter.cuny.edu.

Sophie Tunney
I am a 5th year history PhD student that focuses on early modern France and its colonies. I research international botanical networks, and I focus on the  intersections between slavery, colonization, science, and the state. I am interested in eighteenth century luxury debates and the emergence of Physiocracy. I am happy to discuss teaching (both online and in-person),  balancing academic and personal life, researching abroad, and how to live in this crazy-wonderful city. I can also recommend a few tips and tricks to staying relatively sane during the covid-19 quarantine

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