Eileen Cheng and Kayla Paugas ’17

Learn Like a Scholar. Think Like a Historian.

While studying Thomas Jefferson in history faculty member Eileen Cheng’s class, Kayla Paugas ’17 found herself wondering what enabled Jefferson to claim that slavery is a moral evil in the Declaration of Independence while perpetuating it in his own life at his home, Monticello.

In her conference work and through conversations with Eileen, Kayla studied Monticello’s architecture and discovered that it was constructed to look from the outside like a one-story house. In reality, there were four floors inside that housed both Jefferson’s family and the free and enslaved workers who supported them.

Kayla explains, “There were democratic appearances to Monticello, but there were hierarchies buttressed from within.”

With Eileen’s support, Kayla’s work contributed to the ever-evolving narrative of our political origins. With your support, The Fund for Sarah Lawrence will continue to ensure rich academic experiences like this one for students and faculty now and in the future.

In the video above, watch Kayla and Eileen discuss the project and what Kayla learned from their collaboration.