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Derek Winslow

Derek Winslow, History

“Study abroad was a powerful experience for me…Every second of the trip was valuable.”
Long fascinated by ancient Greece, history major Derek Winslow yearned to visit the places he has read about and studied. He wanted to examine the storied columns of the Parthenon up close and stand on the land where the historic Battle of Marathon unfolded. So when Ethan Spanier, former director of UMass Lowell’s Center for Hellenic Studies, announced he was leading a two-week summer study abroad program in Greece, Winslow signed up.

“This was something I had to do,” says Winslow. “I’ve read, and studied and written papers about Greek history and I love it, but there is something about the power of experience.”

Held at the American College of Greece in Athens, the experiential learning program combined readings by Greek and Roman historians with visits to the places described in the texts. Spanier led Winslow and eight other students on trips to the Parthenon, the Temple of Poseidon, Delphi and other significant historic sites. They toured museums, explored ancient ruins and visited an archaeological dig.

“Study abroad was a powerful experience for me,” says Winslow. “Seeing the magnitude of the monuments, I got a sense that they were constructed for future generations to see, that their purpose was a kind of immortality.”

Deeply interested in the Battle of Marathon, a pivotal event in European history, Winslow debated theories about the clash with Spanier on the battlefield site. As the group walked on the beach where Persian troops came ashore, Winslow could visualize the invasion.

“It’s something I’ll never forget,” he says. “Every second of the trip was valuable.”

Although he had never visited Europe before, Winslow was surprised at how comfortable he felt traveling around the country.

“Everyone was really friendly,” he says. “I felt completely at home.”

A transfer student from UMass Amherst, Winslow had considered a career in sports journalism when he first started college. But after taking some time off from school and working, he realized he wanted to study history, something in which he’d always been keenly interested. He transferred to UMass Lowell in 2010 and rediscovered his passion for learning.

“UMass Lowell reinvigorated me,” he says.

A recipient of the History Department’s Zamanakos Scholarship, Winslow hopes to return to Greece and see more of the country. Two weeks, he says, was not nearly enough time to see and do all the things he wanted.