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History students work for 13th win

Monday, March 10, 2008  
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By Lindsay Autry

Although history students are usually looking back into the times, figures and events in history, this weekend they will be looking forward into their professional futures.

Students and faculty from colleges and universities all across the state of Oklahoma will attend the annual Phi Alpha Theta Oklahoma Regional-Oklahoma Association of Professional Historians Conference, part of which will be held on Oklahoma Christian University's campus.

Phi Alpha Theta is a part of the National History Honor Society, and the President of the Oklahoma Christian chapter is junior Daniel McCormack.

The Conference will be March 7-8 and will start with a banquet in Guthrie, Okla., which is one of the most historical cities in Oklahoma's history, because it was the first state capital.  Then conferees will continue on to the Oklahoma Territorial Museum to go on a private tour. They will also see a living history presentation of Kate Barnard, "Oklahoma Progressive Angel."

Saturday will be spent on campus for paper sessions.  These sessions are what participating students prepare for and look forward to.  There will be five students from the Tau Sigma chapter of Phi Alpha Theta presenting scholarly papers at this Conference.

"It is a good opportunity to practice presenting, as this is a skill that, despite its importance, many people lack. Being able to speak confidently and clearly in front of a group of people is helpful no matter what profession one chooses to pursue," McCormack said.

The judging sessions for the papers are broken up into undergraduate and graduate sections and then further separated into three categories: Oklahoma History, American History and Non-American History.

Senior and Phi Alpha Theta member Elaine Ekpo is presenting her paper on "The Historical Significance of Art in Culture: A Closer Study of English Victorian Art."

"The paper I am submitting is one I had to write during my international studies program last semester, so my preparation for this paper consisted of researching for many hours in and out of the various libraries around Oxford. Also, since I was studying an artist from Oxford, I was able to see the original artwork in the museum and colleges in Oxford," Ekpo said.

Ekpo is eager to see the fruits of her labor as well as take away even more skills and historical knowledge.

"I'm excited to present at this conference because I worked so hard to perfect my paper, and it's not your typical history paper since it deals with plenty of art and other unique elements," Ekpo said.  "I hope to further improve my public speaking skills from presenting my paper and expand my knowledge concerning the various facets of history from listening to others' presentations."

Department Chair of History and Political Science and Distinguished Professor John Maple is excited for another year's conference.

"This is an excellent opportunity for students to their research and writing and have it judged by faculty from many different universities.  It's a chance to not only to hear oral comments, but to review the written evaluations as well," Maple said.

Phi Alpha Theta member Ryan Kendall is presenting his paper entitled "Last Gasp of Socialism: Jack Walton and the Betrayal of the Farmer-Labor Reconstruction League." Kendall attended last year's regional conference and is excited to see what he learned there reflected in this year's work.

"I spent the fall semester writing a 25-page paper for my Senior History Seminar Class.  It included countless hours of research, revision and consultation with my professor, Dr. Thompson.  When I learned I had the opportunity to present at the conference this year, I chose this paper because I believe it is the best one I have written while at OC," Kendall said.

There will also be a luncheon on Saturday with Bob Blackburn, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Historical Society.  He will be speaking on what historians can learn from Ken Burns, the most famous maker of historical documents in America today.

"This conference affords student the chance to meet and speak with professors at schools where they might be looking to do graduate work.  This is a great place to share scholarship and stay up to date on the latest research being done in any given field," McCormack said.

After the luncheon, there will be an award presentation to the students who have presented the best papers in the state.

"Of course, there is the opportunity to be recognized at a regional level for outstanding research," McCormack said.

Dr. Maple proudly displays the Division I Best Chapter Awards the Tau Sigma chapter has won 12 years in a row.

"We have excellent scholars in this chapter, and I wouldn't be surprised if we win again.  Last year two of our students brought back awards for their papers.  We took four students to the National Conference in January and their work was among the best there," Maple said.

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