Sometimes you find out a lot more about someone, and reveal a lot more about yourself, as a graduate student when you look for recommendations. For anyone who has applied to graduate school, and often even undergraduate programs, there was almost certainly a requirement for recommendations. When one wishes to progress in the great chain of academia, it is necessary at each gateway to show that one has excellent study and research habits from the previous level, so that they can better ensure that you are able to handle the rigors of the next level up.
As it happens, I am applying for admission into a History Ph.D program, and seeking recommendations from my M.A. program, among those who would best be able to appreciate my background and research aptitude. One of the people I asked to provide a recommendation was a Norwich professor who had a special interest in German military and scientific history. When I submitted my capstone topic in the M.A. program, on the Prussianization of the Chilean Army, the fact that it related to Germany meant that I had him as my capstone professor.
It was, I believe, the quirkiness of my capstone topic and the erudition the paper demonstrated that led the Norwich program to think that I was ready for the political and academic rigors of a Ph.D in history (and, I must admit, I have a particular inclination to study and get involved in political issues). In asking my capstone professor to write me a recommendation, though, I was unaware that he was an alumnus of the department I was applying to, or that he was working on developing a course for that university, or that he and I were both from Western Pennsylvania. I happened to be able to enjoy a very fruitful conversation on the phone with him, which is definitely a good thing. He happened to be very flattering of the university as well as its focus on providing its Ph.D students with teaching experience and its numerous and excellent research interests and its community of professors and students enjoying plenty of camaraderie outside of class. In short, it looks like a wonderful program and an excellent fit for my ambitions.
Now, if only getting those other two recommendations was so straightforward. More on that later, perhaps.