Dr. Maria Lee provides a wealth of knowledge to the classroom as she brings history to life for her students through personal experience and research.
Born into a working class family in western Pennsylvania, Lee knew that a quality education was crucial for her success. She began her college experience as music major, but soon discovered a love for history and switched her major.
Her love of history was sparked by the job she held as an archival assistant for the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania, where she worked for several years as an undergraduate.
She began her higher education at a community college and then attended a small state university before going on to earn her Ph.D. She credits her faculty advisors at the two smaller institutions and Dr. Joe W. Trotter at Carnegie Mellon University for their guidance that led to her own success. And it was as a doctoral candidate that she
discovered her love of teaching while serving as an adjunct professor at various colleges and universities.
Having benefited from small college settings, Lee says that she was delighted to join the CCM faculty in 2003.
“I find my students’ growth to be the most exciting thing about teaching,” says Lee. “I love to see when students enter at one level and then graduate from CCM fully prepared to succeed in a four-year institution.”
Lee keeps her classroom lively by engaging students in conversations about topics ranging from American history to world history. Additionally, students benefit from her research. She has published several articles including “Pittsburgh Civic, Literary, and Mutual Aid Associations”in Organizing Black America: An Encyclopedia of African American Associations. She also has held a fellowship with the Center for African Americans in the Urban Economy at Carnegie Mellon University, and served as a Scholar in Residence at the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission. Currently, she is researching a book on the African American experience in Augusta County, Virginia, 1865-1900, along with writing a historical novel set in Pittsburgh in 1897.
On campus, she is an instrumental member of the Bridging Cultures Committee, which is part of a national initiative to better incorporate diversity, civic engagement and democratic thinking into teaching and learning.
Prior to earning her Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon University in 2006, Lee earned her M.A. in 1996 from Carnegie Mellon University and her B.A. summa cum laude in 1995 from California University of Pennsylvania.