Clarksville, TN – Austin Peay State University’s Phi Alpha Theta (PAT) history honors society has long been among the best in the country, recently winning Best Chapter of the Year Division IV for the seventh consecutive year.
Two members of the University’s chapter were chosen to join members of 77 other PAT chapters in presenting their historical research at the society’s biennial national conference, held January 6th-10th in Orlando, FL at the Walt Disney World resort.APSU has had students present at the national conference in the last five gatherings (2008, 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016).
Jennifer Keller, a history major in APSU’s masters program and PAT chapter president, returned after having presented at the organization’s 2014 national conference. Keller’s presentation this year focused on women in Germany during the Nazi regime titled, “The War on Women: Nazi Ideology and Women in Germany.”
Keller’s work caught the eye of the panel’s chair, professor at the University of South Florida and PAT Executive Director, Dr. Jack Tunstall.
“I was encouraged by Dr. Tunstall to continue my research for a possible dissertation, or for separate publishing,” Keller said. “Aside from Dr. Tunstall, I met some wonderful fellow PAT members from (as far away as) the University of Hawaii.”
An undergraduate history major, Sara Alexander presented her research during a panel on the Vietnam War. For a first visit to any conference, let alone a national meeting, Alexander said she gained a great deal of knowledge and confidence in her research.
“I was very nervous initially, but it really was a wonderful experience,” Alexander said. “Robert Kodosky of West Chester University presided over the panel, and he was very uplifting in his critique of my paper.”
The conference is not just an opportunity to present findings, as academic gatherings provide vital opportunities and experiences for college students wishing to continue on with either graduate study or professional academic careers.
“I made a lot of connections and met with a variety of professors and students from other universities who were very motivational,” Alexander said. “The professors were helpful advising people like me who are apprehensive about the difficulty in pursuing a career as a professor in history.
“Also, (presenting at an academic conference) looks great on a CV and will benefit me when I apply to graduate school,” Alexander added.
Keller, who is on track to graduate from APSU in May, emphasized the invaluable networking potential of a meeting of the national conference’s scale.
Austin Peay State University’s chapter, Theta-Delta, was established in 1961 and is the third oldest chapter in the state of Tennessee. Phi Alpha Theta holds national and regional meetings, sponsors eight national scholarships annually, and publishes a quarterly journal, “The Historian.”