“If I weren’t doing this, I would probably be a truck driver, driving across the country, talking to people on C.B.,” visiting Assistant Professor of History Steven Bachelor said. However, luckily for his students, Bachelor chose to become a history professor.
Bachelor’s journey began at UCLA, where he received his B.A. in history. He then took a two-year sabbatical from school and worked as an eighth grade school teacher in eastern Los Angeles.
“I did that knowing I wanted to go off to graduate school,” Bachelor said. “I wanted some experience out in the real world before going off to the ivory tower.”
He returned to academia to attend graduate school at Yale, obtaining Master’s degrees in Art and Philosophy, as well as a doctorate in history.
He then traveled to Mexico as a Fulbright Fellow, where he conducted research for his doctoral thesis. Recently, Bachelor has been working on converting that thesis into a manuscript, which he hopes to finish by the end of the school year and send it to a publisher for consideration. The book is titled Miracle on Ice: Mexico in the American Century.
“In it, I try to understand the nature of U.S.-fueled capitalism in Mexico,” Bachelor said. “It’s an attempt to understand what the U.S. has done in Mexico since the Mexican revolution in 1910 and how these actions have shaped Mexico today. It’s the first history that brings together politics, culture and class in the context of U.S. global economic agenda looking at Mexico.”
Bachelor found on-site research in Mexico City to be truly amazing.
“Mexico City is the most ridiculous and insane city,” he said. “I can’t believe that a place as chaotic, yet beautiful can exist in the world. It’s the type of place where the moment you arrive there, you know that you’re in this unique place.”
Bachelor has found the transition from large cities to a small town such as Hamilton to be a surprisingly easy one.
“Before coming to Colgate, I only lived in big cities,” he said. “I didn’t know what to expect coming here, but I’ve really fallen in love with Hamilton. I think because I’ve lived in large cities, I like that I don’t have to lock my doors and I know all my neighbors.”
Bachelor has also thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the Colgate students, whom he finds hard working and responsive.
“The students here are phenomenal,” he said. “I think that they like to be motivated, and that makes for a really positive learning experience and environment.”
Bachelor said that his own experience in college was highly influential in determining his career path.
“I was very influenced by my professors in college,” Bachelor said. “When I started getting to know the professors, the passion they had for the subject rubbed off on me.”
Brad Burns, a professor of Latin American history at UCLA for about 30 years, was particularly influential in bringing the subject to life for Bachelor.
“I aspire to what he offered,” he said. “I’m not there yet. To this day he is an inspiration.”
Bachelor hopes to be a source of motivation for his students.
“History, or the way I teach it, provides learners with the tools to make sense of the world so they can eventually change it,” Bachelor said. “Even though I’m a historian and I study the past, I do so because the past is what shapes today. If you really want to understand how to change the world, which is why I do this, then this is the only way I know how.”
Bachelor has been attempting to change the Colgate community as well, insisting that Colgate faculty get out and actually meet people in the town and get to know what goes on in Hamilton.
“I’ve intentionally lived outside the village just so I could get to know the people here,” he said. “I invite my neighbors to attend my classes, and to me, it’s sort of an open door. Colgate is here and there are a lot of interesting things going on.”
Bachelor himself has taken part in a number of the activities offered at Colgate, including giving a brown bag talk, attending the Vagina Monologues and listening to WRCU. He has also become involved with Africana and Latin American studies and will be cooking a Latin American dish on ALST Day. He has, however, found some impediments in joining clubs since his is a visiting professor with only temporary status.
“It is kind of tough being a visitor,” he said. “On the one hand, I’ve wanted to be involved, but you don’t want to step on toes.”
Bachelor hopes to change his position of temporary professor to a more permanent one.
“I would love to stay here and get a tenure track job,” he said. “I’m expecting my first child in the summer. This is the kind of place where I’d love to raise kids. It’s the most friendly and beautiful part of the country I’ve ever lived in.”