History Ph.D. Student Spotlight: David Marchionni

Name: David Marchionni, Second year Ph.D. student, Asian Pacific American Studies Graduate Fellow for 2023-2024   

Hometown: Ridgewood, NJ 

Undergrad: McGill University (2018), Graduate Degree: Fordham University (2020). 

MSU Research Area: U.S. History; Medical History; Asian Pacific American Studies 

Share your background and experience with us: 

If you were to poll my colleagues, you’d probably hear that I’m an uptight Franco-American kid with an Italian name from New York and New Jersey. In truth, I’m someone who has been passionate about music, history, and current events from an early age. After high school, I left the United States to study political science and history at McGill University, where I discovered an enduring passion for medical history and histories of illicit sex. After graduating, I worked a series of small jobs until eventually moving to Little Italy in pursuit of a master’s degree in modern history at Fordham University. Completing an MA amid the nascent Covid-19 epidemic was brutal, but it helped make all of us a little bit more resilient, adaptable, and empathetic. 

Why grad school (again)? 

I’ve dreamt of being a history professor since my first year of high school when my teacher let me lecture the rest of my world history classmates on the causes and consequences of the First World War. While I have tried my hand at many jobs and roles over the years, the atmosphere and energy within academia is the only place that ever left me feeling truly fulfilled. Nowhere else can you find so many motivated, talented, and brilliant people all gathered working on some ground-breaking project or other. Once I stumbled across the kernels of what would become my current project, I knew a Ph.D. program was in the cards for me. 

When you do have free time, what do you do? 

Admittedly, free time is a bit of a luxury these days. That said, when a free moment presents itself, I try to take advantage of the Wharton Center’s (admittedly quite generous) student discounts! Meanwhile, whenever I find myself with a free Friday or Saturday night, I love subjecting my long-suffering friends to whatever new experimental new cocktail recipe I can get my hands on. 

Why did you choose MSU/what do you like about MSU? 

As the son of a sculptor, I’ve noticed that history Ph.D. programs are quite like the artisans’ trades. Much like how a young artist will apprentice under the watchful eye of a master, I am extraordinarily fortunate to study under the direction of some incredibly patient, supportive, and brilliant MSU faculty members. That said, what really drew me to Michigan State was the opportunity to work with Dr. Naoko Wake. Her work has been so influential for me for so many years now, and there is no better feeling than being here learning from her. 

MSU is also home to some fantastic degree specialization programs and supplemental training opportunities. The Asian Pacific American Studies Program has such an active and vibrant community of students, scholars, and mentors, all of whom have helped guide both my project and my overall academic and professional development in more ways than I can count. 

Beyond that, however, I genuinely love the culture here at MSU. No matter how busy or stressed we all may be, you can rely on your friends here to lend a hand, offer advice, or just hang out to help you stay sane in a field where egos and financial incentives can often leave students at each other’s throats. It’s so fulfilling to work within a space where you can trust your fellow grad students to have your back. 

A project Marchionni is proud of‘Our Community, Our Stories’ Project,’

As an ally, and as an academic, it is humbling to have the opportunity to work with the documents, oral histories, and other assorted materials soon to be featured on the site. That said, I must also acknowledge that I am but one of many who have contributed to this project’s success. This was a team effort, one that spans several directors, fellows, and contributors. I am simply proud to be able to help get it across the finish line.