Terrance Jefferson wins second place in the Harris and Zelma Freedman Essay Contest

Terrance Jefferson wins second place in the Harris and Zelma Freedman Essay Contest

Congratulations to Penn State student Terrance Jefferson for his second place award in the Harris and Zelma Freedman Essay Contest! Terrance’s winning paper is titled “Winning the war of support at home: The evolution of printed propaganda during the Nazi Regime.”

Terrance is majoring in Secondary Social Studies Education with minors in History, Political Science, and Social Justice in Education. During his time at Penn State, Terrance has also been involved with the College of Education Undergraduate Student Council and the DiscipleMakers Christian Fellowship.

Learn more about Terrance below!

Tell us about your award-winning essay! Why you decided to write on this topic and give us some insight into your research experience.

My paper focused on how picture and printed Nazi propaganda changed as the tides of the  World War II changed. I’ve always grappled with how an entire people could be misled, or in many cases forcibly misled, into stereotypes and become participants in oppression. It became clear to me that when the Nazi Regime created the Ministry of Propaganda and Popular Enlightenment, they knew exactly how to target the minds of the citizens in Nazi Germany. It was a cold and calculated effort to convince people to become a part of this system (by force or free will), or face dire consequences.

Why did you decide to take this individual Jewish Studies course?

I am not in the Jewish Studies program, but I chose to take HIST 426 (Holocaust) because I knew that to be an effective teacher of the Holocaust I needed to broaden my knowledge. Dr. Tobias Brinkmann really helped me understand what happened over the course of the Holocaust and how the legacy of the survivors has persisted over time. It also showed me how the end of World War II impacted the world we live in today. The world has developed this “never again” mindset with genocide, and it clearly has impacts today especially with what has happened in the late 90s to this very year.

What has been your favorite part of the program?

I have really enjoyed the dedication of everyone I’ve met in the program to study Jewish history and culture. The faculty here clearly care about what they do, and the students show great investment in their work and studies. I only joined this group this semester, but this is a stellar program with academic talent everywhere.

What is your favorite Penn State memory?

My favorite Penn State memory has to be whenever I have a chance to hang out with my friends and just grow together in our studies and our lives. The bonds we build between each other are so important for our survival, and there’s such a great opportunity to do that here.

Which JSP class has been your favorite and why?

I’ve only taken HIST 426, but I enjoyed it thoroughly. I learned so much and was free to explore ideas and reasoning, even if it meant I got it wrong at first and learned the answer.

Do you have any advice for students who are interested in becoming Jewish Studies students?

It doesn’t matter how much you know, just jump in. I did not know a whole lot about Jewish culture or history before taking the Holocaust course, and I walked out of it with way more than I could have imagined. Don’t feel like you cannot succeed because others around you know more than you right now. You will learn what you need, and it will be way more than you could have imagined.

What accomplishment at Penn State are you most proud of?

My favorite accomplishment is joining the DC Social Justice Fellowship in the College of Education. Learning how to advocate for people, how to deconstruct and reconstruct my thinking to account for biases, how to build equity into my curriculum, and growing together with other fellows in the work of social justice. 

Where is your favorite place in State College (on and off campus)?

Off campus, you can catch me at Northland Bowl throwing strikes and spares (no gutter balls in this house)! On campus, it definitely has to be Beaver Stadium. Nothing brings me joy quite like football!