UCL Institute of the Americas


Max Traeger

BA History and Politics of the Americas, 2018-2021

Photograph of Max Traeger
At the Institute of the Americas I felt that I had my own village community within UCL to belong to. I decided to swap from a different degree to BA History and Politics of the Americas after a call with the ever-supportive Nick Witham, and I never regretted my choice. I found the breadth and depth of the modules offered, and the expertise of the academic staff to be enticingly challenging and intellectually influential. The relatively small size of the course meant that I built close relationships with my tutors and peers, making the Institute feel like a true community.

The responsibility and freedom given to me as a student has left me with much gratitude for the course. I felt supported enough to be able to turn around in my final year and propose a rather unusual dissertation on the Voyager Golden Record*. I loved writing it and I am grateful beyond belief to my supervisors Nadia Hilliard and Gareth Davies. It is an immense credit to my peers on the course and the staff of the Institute that a worldwide plague striking halfway through my degree did not stop me feeling nurtured, inspired, and among friends. You only experience being an undergraduate once, and I am so thankful that my experience was as a student at the Institute of the Americas. 

* What the ever so modest Max fails to mention is that his dissertation was awarded the departmental prize to the best undergraduate dissertation in 2021. And also that he was a member of Team UCL in the first round of the 2021 edition of University Challenge!