Madelaine Setiawan: Choosing Aggieland
Madelaine Setiawan is an international student from Indonesia with a passion for American Civil War history and an eagerness to join the Aggie family.
By Rachel Knight ‘18
Madelaine Setiawan’s journey to Aggieland began as an undergraduate international student from Indonesia at Lee University. She realized her true passion was studying history after taking her first undergraduate history class.
Before graduating from Lee in May, Setiawan announced her plans to pursue a Ph.D. in history at Texas A&M University. She is the first Lee history department student to gain acceptance to Texas A&M’s history graduate program.
“I remember handing my acceptance letter to my history professor who also went to Texas A&M for his Ph.D.,” Setiawan shared. “He immediately started teaching me all the Aggie yells, shared his stories living in Bryan-College Station, and gave me advice on graduate school. At the end of our conversation, he told me, ‘Thank you for making my day!’”
Setiawan applied to five graduate programs.
“Whenever someone asked me what I look for in a program, I always thought about community and relationships first,”she explained. “Considering the timeline to acquire a Ph.D., I realized I needed to focus not only on the quality of the program, but more importantly my relationship with the graduate students, professors, and my advisor that would make up a supportive community.”
A trip to Texas A&M provided the opportunity to meet Texas A&M history faculty and graduate students. Her brief time in Bryan-College Station inspired Setiawan to choose Aggieland.
“During my visit to Texas A&M, the professors and graduate students really welcomed us and made us feel like we were already a part of the department. I was able to get to know the history graduate students over dinner and drinks, and I witnessed a group of graduate students who respect each other as professionals and are great friends,” she said. “The highlight of my visit to Texas A&M was getting to meet Lorien Foote in person. We had a great conversation and I knew immediately that I wanted to work with her and attend Texas A&M.”
Setiawan began studying the American Civil War at Lee, and wrote her undergraduate thesis on the memory of Union General George Henry Thomas. She plans to continue studying the Civil War with a focus on Southern Unionists while pursuing her Ph.D. She said she looks forward to working with Foote, the Patricia & Bookman Peters Professor in History at Texas A&M, whose most recent book received the 2022 Organization of American Historians Civil War and Reconstruction Book Award.
“As a Civil War student, I have always admired Dr. Foote. I always enjoy reading her work and wanted to work with her at Texas A&M,” Setiawan explained. “She is an amazing scholar whom I highly admire and look up to, and being able to work with her and learn from her is an incredible opportunity.”
In addition to expressing excitement for her Ph.D. studies at Texas A&M, Setiawan said she is eager to join the Aggie family.
“I cannot wait to immerse myself in the Aggie culture and tradition — going to football games, learning the yells and chants, and saying ‘Howdy,’” she shared. “I also really look forward to getting to know the people in the history department better.”