Photo of Eric Melgren receiving the department's 2009 Distinguished History Alumni Awared from Dr. John Dreifort.

Eric Melgren, left, receives the department's 2009 Distinguished History Alumni Award from Dr. John Dreifort




Scholarship and Award Winners


 Covid-19’s appearance has disrupted normal practices and routines at the global, national, and local levels as well as here at the University.  One of the many small tragedies is that the closure of the University forced the cancellation of our annual scholarship and awards banquet that the History Department holds to recognize this year’s outstanding history students.  While not a replacement for the fine food and fellowship of the luncheon, the following brief testimonials of our scholarship and award winners by the faculty are offered to highlight the accomplishments of this year’s excellent students.  Also included is a brief description of the inspirations behind the award-winning papers as described by the students themselves.  Please join us in congratulating our scholarship-and-award-winning students for 2019-2020.  


Graduate Selections


John Rydjord Graduate Award-Logan Daugherty

            Testimonial by Professor Jay Price

A thoughtful and reflective student with a wide range of interests, from the counterculture to Japanese philosophy, Logan has a gift for seeing the lessons that seemingly ordinary practices can teach us.  His recently-defended thesis about the rise and fall of beard culture and what facial hair says about society is thought provoking and worth reading. You’ll never think about the iconic John Brown “Tragic Prelude” painting the same way again.

 Anthony and Dana Gythiel Endowed Scholarship/Fellowship in History-Joshua Mackey

            Testimonial by Professor Jay Price

Josh Mackey is one of those energetic students who is always open to learning more skills and seeking out new opportunities.  Although his research focus is on the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921, he has also been open to broadening his experiences to include a museum exhibit in Valley Center, the Somos de Wichita project that looks at Latinos in Wichita, and serving as a docent for the Pizza Hut Museum.  Last year, as president of the Society of Public Historians, Josh coordinated a downtown walking tour of Delano for over 50 members of the community.   A native of Oklahoma, Josh has become quite the tour guide for Wichita.

  Undergraduate Selections

 Bill and Donna Ard Endowed Scholarship-Brett Fearer

            Testimonial by Professor Jeff Hayton

Brett Fearer has been a standout student of history for the past several years and in recognition of his hard work, the History Department is pleased to award him the Donna & Bill Ard Endowed Scholarship. Brett is an exceptional student whose attention to detail and industrious work ethic have led him to considerable success. Having the pleasure of teaching Brett in numerous classes over the past few semesters, I have seen up close how much effort he puts into his schoolwork. Whether we are talking about his papers, his tests, or his participation in group discussions, Brett always ensures that his contributions are rigorous and challenging. Furthermore, his expansive thinking helps direct the class towards the significance of topics under study and his good humor is always appreciated as well. With his outstanding work, Brett has more than demonstrated the qualities necessary to advance in the history profession. Congratulations!

Dr. Henry & Minnie Onsgard Scholarship-Damon Penner

            Testimonial by Professor Robin Henry

Damon Penner is this year’s recipient of the Henry Onsgard Scholarship for undergraduate academic achievement. Damon is a second-semester junior, is majoring in History with a minor in Anthropology, and is planning on graduating in December 2020. Damon was born and raised in Newton and is a proud graduate of Berean Academy in Elbing, Kansas, about twenty minutes east of Newton. Currently, he lives in North Newton with his parents, Corey and Staci Penner, his sister Laniese, and his dogs, Daisy, Sam, and Chewbacca. Damon is also active in the WSU community as a member of Phi Alpha Theta (history honors society), Society of Public Historians, Student Alumni Board, Sports Club Executive Board, Mortarboard Honor Society, WSU Navigators (Christian Ministry), and the WSU Quidditch Team.

At Wichita State, Damon has continued to develop his interests in history. While he has taken a number of courses, he finds that his internship at the Kansas Cosmosphere during the summer of 2019 and course work in US military, legal history, and research and writing are among his favorites. Through these experiences, he has learned important content, but also the need to look at problems from different perspectives, and to constantly be working on his research and writing skills. Damon also believes that his professors in the history department have had an immeasurable influence on his love of history and on his development as a student and a person. So, what’s next for Damon Penner? Though he realizes that it will be tough, Damon would like to continue his studies in history at the doctoral level and to teach history at the university level.  

 John Edward "Jed" Hurley, Jr. Scholarship-Christian Alvarez

            Testimonial by Professor George Dehner

I first met Christian when he was enrolled in the History 300 “Introduction to Research Methods” course I taught in the fall of 2019.  Christian and I met several times after class and in my office to discuss his research project.  What I found most commendable was that Christian was not meeting to see how he could ensure he got an A in the class, although of course he would not have turned that down, but instead wanted to understand how historians go about organizing and conducting their research so he could produce a richer, more comprehensive research project.  This is precisely the value of the 300 course where the value is in the doing.  Clearly, however, Christian’s drive to deepen his research is resulting in recognition as testified by his receiving the Jed Hurley Scholarship.  Congratulations Christian and keep up the good work!

 Suellentrop Family Scholarship in History-Darbee Chard

            Testimonial by Professor Laila Ballout

Darbee Chard has distinguished herself as an emerging historian through her eagerness to draw from a variety of archives and bring humanity to her subjects of study. These qualities were especially evident in her recent work in History 300, wherein she richly drew from historical scholarship, government reports, court documents, and scientific scholarship to craft a thoughtful synthesis that gives a broad view of the research on Vietnam veterans’ pursuit of research and acknowledgement of the impact of Agent Orange on themselves and their children.

 Constance Louise Routh Decker/Kansas Daughters of the American Revolution Scholarship-Evan Silliman

             Testimonial by Professor Jeff Hayton

Over the past several years, Evan Silliman has demonstrated considerable aptitude for studying the past. Evan is a keen history student who works hard to produce high quality writing and thoughtful exams. A quiet and diligent student, Evan asks challenging questions during our discussions which requires considerable thought to answer. This past semester, Evan has been an important part of our collective learning experience; even the switch online did not interfere with his studies. As Evan nears the end of his WSU tenure, receiving the Decker-Kansas Daughters of the American Revolution Award is a nice recognition for all the hard work he’s put into his college career. Congratulations!

Russell "Jiggs" Nelson Endowed Scholarship-Kay Doubrava

            Testimonial by Professor Rannfrid Thelle

Kay Doubrava brings thoughtful and unique perspectives to the classroom discussion, often voiced with wit and always thoroughly expressed. Her enthusiasm and drive to research the topics that interest her give her the necessary independence critical for producing good work and provide that always-needed fuel to complete long-haul projects and assignments. Together with those qualities, Kay’s eye for specific details, numbers, and chronology add to her skill-set and abilities. Congratulations!

 Marie Graham Memorial Scholarship-Christen Brouillette

            Testimonial by Professor Robert Owens

 Working with students can be really enjoyable, particularly when they are bright, engaged, and make an effort to learn. Lively classrooms depend upon active students.  Having Christen Brouillette in class is a lot of fun.

 Lee and Helen Kamen Scholarship in History-Claire Kelly

            Testimonial by Professor Jeff Hayton

Claire Kelly has shown considerable promise already in her short WSU career. During lecture, she is a studious notetaker while in discussions, she offers sharp and incisive observations about the subjects under consideration. This past year, she has written numerous excellent essays for me on Voltaire, All Quiet on the Western Front, the rise of Nazism, the Holocaust, and more. It is always a pleasure to teach students who take their studies seriously and who work hard to improve; Claire is precisely this kind of student. With an outstanding first year behind her, Claire is a worthy recipient of the Lee & Helen Kamen Scholarship in History. Congratulations!

 Paper Awards


Fiske Hall Non-Seminar Paper Award-Joshua Mackey for “Woodrow Wilson’s Western Tour and the League of Nations Debate.”

My paper, "Woodrow Wilson’s Western Tour and the League of Nations Debate," was put together for Dr. Ballout's American Diplomatic History course. I needed to construct something related to American foreign relations, but I also wanted to dive into the historical backdrop of my thesis, which focuses on the Tulsa Race Massacre in the rural press. That led me to look at the progressive press, Woodrow Wilson's ideological motivations in the peace settlement, and the loss of momentum during his Western Tour that contributed to the post-war collapse of the Progressive movement. While the topic is tangential to the Tulsa Race Massacre, it gave me enough set dressing to understand the broader historical moment and the ideological tug-of-war in the press in the postwar years.

 Fiske Hall Seminar Paper-Rhenee Clark Swink for “The Tien Tus Hui: An Englishwoman’s Endeavor to End Footbinding in China.”

My research on the Tien Tus Hui stemmed from an interest in material culture, particularly clothing. Originally I sought to find connections between the practice of foot binding in China and the wearing of corsets in England. The practice of foot binding and wearing of corsets altered the physical shape of women’s bodies, impacting freedom of physical movement, and symbolized the reduced role of women in society at the time. My exploration led me to the work of Alicia Little with the Tien Tus Hui. The Tien Tus Hui helped mobilize diverse elements of Chinese society that sought to end foot binding, leading to the demise of the practice.

 Phi Alpha Theta

Kind Shepherd Award-Brooke Talbott for “American Military Use of Dogs During World War II.”

When brainstorming about my potential paper topic, I knew that I wanted to choose something related to World War II, given my love for American Military history. Soon after I was assigned this paper, I talked to a coworker about how I was overwhelmed with the amount of WWII-related topics to choose from. She suggested that I do something related to animals, given how much I love (and frequently talked about) cats. At first, I laughed at this suggestion. When I got home that night and started Googling the animals of World War II, however, I was hooked. I soon discovered the incredible roles that dogs played throughout the war, and as a result, I decided to research the American Military's use of dogs during World War II.


            John Rydjord Jr.-Noah Blanco for “A Brief Overview of Culturally Intrinsic

Racism: Causes and Effects.”

There was an article in a sports journal about the perception of black males referencing back to the Goya painting Que viene el coco.  It also discussed the Germans and other Europeans having reference to a dark ominous boogeyman figure (prior to intermingling with darker skinned peoples) which later is worked into the rhetoric and thinking about black people.  Got me thinking about the perceptions of people and how perception acts on the concept of justice and how we as a nation justified intense horrors through legal means. This is around the same time the Free Albert Wilson campaign is getting some coverage on social media and news sources.  It was a perfect storm of happenings presenting an interesting situation/idea which I hope to develop further in the future. 

 Douglas Bendell Award in Undergraduate Research and Writing-Damon Penner for “Project Gemini: Turning ‘When into Now.’”

I was led to write “Project Gemini: Turning When into Now” because of a personal passion for Space Race-era history I have had since childhood. Of all the areas of historic study, the Space Race was the first that introduced me to the study of the past. It all started when I was around 5 years old. I woke up from a Sunday afternoon nap, and went to find my dad who was folding laundry in the basement. On the TV, instead of an NFL game, NASCAR race, or a golf tournament, he was watching this documentary about the Space Race. I was fascinated by watching pilots strap themselves to a rocket and going to another place. Ever since then I have been fascinated about all of the behind the scenes goings on of NASA and the whys and hows of the NASA space programs of the 1950s to the present day. I was ultimately compelled to write the paper, not only because of this passion, but because there was going to be a conference hosted by the WSU Space Initiative, run by the Departments of Philosophy and the School of Engineering, in October of last year. So I decided to do the paper both to fulfill the class requirements, but also provide the basis for an academic presentation. During the process of writing it, I not only learned how to work with some materials that came or were published directly by NASA, but also how to bring my childhood passion to the academic community.



The department offers several awards and scholarships. Please include your name and the award you are submitting to on a cover sheet. For more information, contact:

Contact George Dehner (978-7734)

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Graduate teaching assistantships are available on a competitive basis to qualified students. The application deadline is March 1 for the following academic year. Satisfactory performance ensures support for up to two years. A number of scholarships and awards are available for both undergraduate and graduate students.

Scholarships for undergraduates include the Henry Onsgard Scholarship for academic achievement, the Marie Graham Scholarship for academic achievement, the Constance Louise Routh Decker-Kansas Daughters of the American Revolution Endowed Scholarship, the Lee and Helen Kamen Scholarship and the Bill and Donna Ard Endowed Scholarship. Papers are eligible for the Douglas Bendell Award for outstanding paper in History 300 and the John Rydjord Jr. Award for outstanding paper in an upper division history course.

In addition to Graduate teaching assistantships, graduates students are eligible for the John L Rydjord Award for academic achievement. Graduate papers may be submitted for the Fiske Hall Award for outstanding paper in a non-seminar history course and the Fiske Hall Seminar Award for outstanding paper in a history seminar course.

Both undergraduate and graduate students are eligible for the Anthony and Dana Gythiel Scholarship for academic achievement.

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