A Rogers State University recent graduate will be the first in school’s history to attend graduate school in England to study European Medieval History. This transitional time period, also known as the Middle Ages, defined the future of England. Its poignant history is captivating for Dustin Cagle (’19), who fell in love with the Middle Ages as a child.
It was the era of Kings and knights, the Catholic Church and the great Roman Empire, beautiful cathedrals and gothic style architecture, and the soul of beloved literature like Beowulf and the Canterbury Tales.
“Europe fascinates me as it has gone through the most exciting transformations in history. From deep, untamed forests populated by disparate tribes, to the heart of the Roman Empire,” Cagle said. “From the height of the classical age, to the unmitigated brutalism of the dark ages. Europe has been home to the highest of highs to the lowest of lows.”
His passion for this time period was reignited after taking RSU’s World Civilization course.
“This period is the foundation for the world we live in now. Grudges that are now ancient began in this time and nation states that have stood for centuries were merely in their infancy. We see governments shift from the de-centralized monarchies, to absolutism, to the beginning of republican governments by the end of the period.”
Professor Dr. David Bath was impressed with Cagle’s passion for history.
“Dustin is a phenomenal student. He is passionate about history and spent hours studying the history of medieval Europe,” Bath said. “He is extremely well read, especially on the Crusades. Dustin has excelled in his academic studies and we expect nothing less from his graduate studies.”
Though some say a history degree is irrelevant, Cagle disagrees.
“A degree in history is about the pursuit of knowledge that is far broader than merely history. This is a degree that teaches proper research techniques, source analysis, argumentation, and effective persuasion,” Cagle said.
Cagle, a Big Cabin native, and his family have long ties to RSU. Several members of his family have attended and graduated from the institution.
“It was only natural for me come here. I heard excellent things about professors such as Dr. Hatley, Dr. McPherson and Dr. Elwell. After hearing my family discuss how excellent these teachers were, I wanted to learn from the best as well,” Cagle said.
The journey to England will not be easy, especially during a pandemic, but Cagle is excited to see historical landmarks he has only read about in books.
“I am thrilled to not only live somewhere entirely unique from where I have ever lived, but to be somewhere so ancient. I love being here in Oklahoma, and I often stand in awe of buildings at RSU that were built during the 1940s, and I cannot imagine seeing artifacts and buildings that are older than I can fathom,” Cagle said.
In 2019 Cagle earned the History Department's Roosevelt Prize, recognizing the top military history student, and won the Colonel Robert R. McCormick Prize for the best undergraduate military history paper at the Missouri Valley History Conference. When he graduated, he was unanimously selected as the Outstanding Senior in Military History by his professors.
Dr. Bath is confidant Dustin’s passion for history and work ethic will ensure his success in his graduate studies.
“Dustin's continued success makes all of us extremely proud. We know that he will do amazing things in England and then come back to teach the next generation of students,” Bath said.