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    Photo Walker Goodemote

    March 28, 2023

    When Family Lore Ignites a Passion for History

    Walker Goodemote ’23 grew up in Mayfield, N.Y., along the shores of the Great Sacandaga Lake. The 29-mile-long body of water, a mecca for boating, swimming and fishing, was a constant presence in the naturally inquisitive Walker’s life. Not surprisingly, he learned a lot about it. For starters, he discovered, the Sacandaga is not actually a lake, but a reservoir. It was created in the 1920s and ’30s in order to regulate the flow of the Hudson River so that it wouldn’t flood cities like Albany, Troy and Schenectady. Previous flooding had already taken a heavy toll on life and property in the region. The Sacandaga also became part of Walker’s family’s lore. A farm belonging to his great-grandfather was purchased by the state and flooded as part of the creation of the reservoir.


    Walker learned all this, and more about, the Sacandaga. But it still was not enough to satisfy his curiosity. He wanted to uncover more, and to share with others. Now he is doing just that. Walker has made the Sacandaga the centerpiece of his thesis for the College’s Integral Honors Program (IHP). He is in the process of creating a website dedicated to sharing the story of the lake and the communities surrounding it. It has required him to spend months engaged in intense researching, writing and designing, including working closely with local historians. However, he could not imagine a better way to blend his passion for history and communications, which are his majors. This project has called on him to blend scholarship and creativity in ways that are sure to shape his professional life for years to come.


    Community and interdisciplinarity, he says, are the heart of the IHP. Not only has he “met some of his closest friends on campus” through the program, but he also uncovered his capacity to “imagine, build and reveal new things.” He has also grown his enthusiasm for telling other people’s stories. That shines through not just in his work on campus, but off. Walker serves as a fellow at the William H. Seward House Museum in Auburn, N.Y., which is dedicated to the former governor of New York and U.S. secretary of state. It has provided him with a greater appreciation of the ways in which history can serve as a guide for people living today. Following his graduation, he hopes one day to continue working in the museum field and helping people see history as an imperfect and dynamic world they can engage with, and help them make sense of their world. 


    “The part I appreciate most about studying history is finding moments of humanity in the figures I am studying,” he says. “It makes the past feel more real and alive. The ramifications of past events are still with us today, and it’s easier to wrap your head around that when the people in the past feel like people, not just words or legends.”


    Director of the Integral Honors Program Matthew Fee, Ph.D., said that he remembers being struck by Walker's passion for history from when they met while Walker was visiting Le Moyne as a high school senior. Fee credits his project about the Great Sacandaga Lake with helping people to understand and appreciate local history,


    “It's been incredible to witness [Walker’s} outstanding growth as a scholar,” he said. “He has always posed thought-provoking questions, but it's been even more fascinating--and inspiring--to watch him hone his exceptional skills in researching and communicating under-reported areas of vital local history.”



    Le Moyne’s Integral Honors Program is a community of students and faculty from across the campus who share a passion for deep, dynamic intellectual engagement and the challenges and rewards of scholarly inquiry. Students apply to the Program in the spring of their senior year of high school and enter Le Moyne as Integral Honors students in their first semester. There are sometimes a limited number of spots available for current students and transfer students to apply during the fall semester of their first year of study at Le Moyne. Students from all majors are welcome to become members of the Integral Honors community.


    Category: Student Voices