History student earns prestigious fellowship

Mitchell TopfMitchell Topf, a graduate student in Youngstown State University’s History program, has been selected to receive the Arlen Specter Center Research Fellowship Award from Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia.

Topf, who earned a bachelor’s degree in History from YSU in May 2020 and is on track for his master’s degree in 2022, is one of only two recipients of the prestigious award, which usually goes to doctoral degree candidates or faculty members. The fellowship includes a $5,000 stipend.

As a fellow, Topf, who is from Cranberry Township, Pa., will be researching in the archives of the late Pennsylvania U.S. Sen. Arlen Specter, a member of the U.S. Senate from 1981 to 2011. As a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Specter travelled to Syria on an almost yearly basis and met with the Assad regime. Topf’s specific research, which will also be his master's thesis, will focus on Specter’s diplomatic mission and on modern Syria and the Assad regime, as well as how Specter's trips can help to understand the issues that plague Syria and the Middle East today.

After completing his master's degree, Topf tentatively plans on entering the workforce to get some practicable work experience, then return to school in a few years to obtain a PhD degree in History.