By Elizabeth Oakes
For the tenth consecutive year, Union’s History Honor Society received the Phi Alpha Theta Best Chapter Award under the leadership of university professor and department chairman Stephen Carls and former 2012 chapter president and Union alumna Caitlin Roach.
In addition to the Delta-Psi recognition, Carls, who is also faculty adviser, will be national vice president of Phi Alpha Theta until January 2014. The following two years he will transition into the position of national president of Phi Alpha Theta, which consists of 250,000 members and 870 chapters nationwide.
“The Delta-Psi chapter has gained national recognition in the society as a result of its success during the past decade, and received considerable attention in the society’s regularly published newsletter,” Carls said. “All members of our chapter play a role in winning the award each year since they are the people who participate in the many activities that the chapter sponsors.”
Although Phi Alpha Theta welcomes freshman through seniors with a variety of majors to join once they have completed 12 semester hours of college-level history, most members are history majors.
“Being in a community of history majors who are passionate about the same things as me motivates me to learn more,” Gracie Wise, junior history and English major said. “In addition to it being a lot of fun it has been a great way to interact with other history students and participate in historical events together.”
Last year, several Delta-Psi chapter members presented research at the bi-annual national convention in Orlando, Fla., the regional conference at Middle Tennessee State University and in Union’s Scholarship Symposium.
Throughout the year, history department members support the students research and writing by attending their paper sessions and by serving as commentators at the society’s conventions.
“My time in PAT provided me with a significant portion of the details on my resume, but more than that, PAT gave me a place to build and nurture relationships that are thriving since graduation,” Roach said.
In a typical Delta-Psi meeting, the students share announcements and learn from each other’s experience at conferences.
“We also tried to do some new things [last year] in keeping with our interest in history, such as serving as hostesses at the Old-Time Art, Music, and Quilt Festival at Casey Jones Village, attending the Kirkin’ of the Tartans event at First Presbyterian Church for a look at some church history, and traveling to Shiloh for the 150th anniversary battle reenactment,” Roach said.
“Dr.Carls is the reason why [Phi Alpha Theta] has been as successful and as fun as it has been,” Wise said. “We have cookouts at his house, and his wife makes excellent French food. I would definitely encourage people to join the chapter.”
Current students and alumna agree that Union’s faculty contribute to the success of the Delta Psi chapter and encourage their interests in history.
“The history faculty truly is a credit to Union’s mission in so many ways, and their influence on me reached far beyond the classroom. I’m blessed to be able to count them among my mentors,” Roach said. “I joined Phi Alpha Theta thinking that a membership might prove useful in the future, and while that is true, the relationships and experiences that I gained from my time in PAT are where the real blessings can be found.”
In addition to honoring a society that helps students fulfill their love of history, the awards have allowed the Delta-Psi chapter to contribute $2,500 to Emma Waters Summar Library for the purchase of history books throughout the last decade.