Michael Theriault on his time as a history major at Eastern

The following thoughts were written by Michael Theriault, 2019 graduating history major and Eastern senior class president.

Entering Eastern as a history major was one of the best decisions I have made in my undergraduate career. Many of the courses I enrolled in really made me stop and realize why I entered this field in the first place. The faculty went out of their way to treat all of their cohort like family and really wanted their students to succeed.

As president of the senior class I was able to give a speech at this past commencement. In it, I reminisced on the university’s many resources that helped us succeed in our academic journey. I could not help but think about the history department and how much of an effort they put in to make everyone feel proud to be in that field.

This past semester I was honored to receive the Victoria Soto Award at the Phi Alpha Theta induction ceremony. Obtaining this had me remember why I wanted to be a teacher in the first place and the tremendous sacrifices we will all make for our students. My goal is to end up as a history teacher and give students the opportunity I was fortunate enough to have.

The senior class committee and I presented Dr. Nunez with a scholarship in with the intention of passing our journey on to a new eastern student. As I said in my speech, we shouldn’t be sad that our time at eastern is over, but instead be glad that it made us into the people we are today.


On May 8, the History department celebrated its graduating seniors.  Faculty and alumni joined in the festivities.

The following students received awards:


Dana Meyer – Outstanding History major


Cassie Epes – Outstanding History/Social Science Major and winner of the Dr. Thomas Anderson Memorial Prize


Katelyn Stokes – Outstanding History major with a Concentration in American Studies

Gerry Denardi – Outstanding Service to the Department


Jacob Avery – Tucker Scholarship Award


Jessica Sullivan – Roth Scholarship Award


Ron Robbilard – Best HIS 400 Seminar Paper in Fall 2018


Martha Ennis – Best HIS 407 Seminar Paper in Fall 2018

Congratulations to our New Honors Students

The History department once again recognized our outstanding majors by awarding them membership in a select group: Phi Alpha Theta, class of 2018. This History Honors society only welcomes the best junior and senior history majors, and our Eastern chapter hosted a dinner in their honor on April 5th. The event, which included a solemn candle-lighting ritual that probably dates back to the Freemasons, is a celebration of all the hard work and effort that these students have put into their studies. We expect big things of them in the future!

Honors inductees (left to right): Kenneth (Matt) Pulk, Taryn McCabe, Michael Theriault, Theresa Johnson, Christopher Ladd, banner with Ouroboros, Chelsea Dahmer, Cameron Noel, Erik Rosati, Gerry Denardi, Erica Davidson. Not pictured: Ryan Bridges, Sarah Brihan, Harrison Brooks, Michael Byne, Katerina Mazzacane.

At the same ceremony, this year’s Victoria Soto award was awarded to Taryn McCabe.

Taryn McCabe, winner of the 2018 Victoria Soto Award

Congratulations to all!


CSU History Conference at Western

In what has become an annual affair, the History Departments at Southern, Central, Eastern, and Western gathered for a now annual conference of students and faculty.  This year, the newly renamed CSU History Departments Conference convened at the Westside Campus of WCSU on Friday, April 6, 2018.

Despite the long drive from Willimantic to Danbury, Eastern was well-represented. Senior history major Ryan Bridges presented his paper, “Trump and Taylor: Not Quite Rough and Ready Presidents,” while next door, senior history major Vanessa Hill presented her paper, “Religion, Gender, and Culture: The Black American Experience.”  Through careful maneuvering, however, students and faculty managed to hear both papers.  Meanwhile, Joe White was asked to participate in a roundtable discussion on undergraduate research among history majors.  After lunch, Dr. Bradley Davis co-facilitated a lively roundtable on “New Directions in Vietnamese History: Recent Work from Three CSU Historians.”

Student presenters Joe White, Ryan Bridges, and Vanessa Hill

Dr. Meznar commented: “Once again Eastern students impressed with the high quality of their research and the professionalism of their presentations.  A special thank you to Dr. Thomas Balcerski for his many roles, including faculty mentor, photographer, and van driver.”

The Eastern Contingent. Sanderce Sweeney, Dr. Joan Meznar, Joe White, Ryan Bridges, Vanessa Hill, Sharifa Lowen, Margaret Conroy, and Dr. Thomas Balcerski. Not Pictured: Dr. Bradley Davis.


All left having learned something new and with the hope that the conference would reconvene next year (at Southern).

Congratulations to last Spring 2017 seminar paper winners

Congratulations to the authors of the best seminar papers in Spring 2017:  

Joseph DeMarco for his work on Jefferson, Adams, and the Question of Tripoli.

Joe DeMarco with award

Joe DeMarco with award

And, Adam Murphy for “A Professor’s Experience in Indonesia: Examining the Partnership Between University of Kentucky and Bogor Agricultural College, 1957-1966.”

Adam Murphy with award

Adam Murphy with award



Belated Congratulations

To graduating senior Isabelli Rossi, who won a library research award in the Junior/Senior category with her research on “The Elite Opulence of the Guilded Age: Creation of an 1876 Style Evening Gown.”

And congrats as well to Chris Morris, who presented his paper “Got a Donkey in the Crosshairs: The Partisan Anticommunism of Senator Joseph McCarthy” at the Northeast Regional Honors Council Conference in late April.

Congratulations new Honor Society members

Phi Alpha Theta, the national History Honors Society, was established in 1921 and now has over 400,000 members, from undergraduates History majors to History professors. At last week’s induction ceremony and dinner, the Eastern branch of PAT, Alpha Mu Alpha, was proud to welcome more than a dozen new members to that exclusive club. PAT 2017This year’s inductees include, from left to right: Samantha Normington, Alexa Potter, Andrea Slater, Adam Murphy, Alexandra Tynan, Elijah Trott, PAT banner (honorary member), Shannon Barillari, Zachary Loughead, Jared Kranc, Cassandra Morton, Taryn McCabe.
Dr. Stefan Kamola, Joseph DeMarco and Christopher Morris were also inducted, though unable to attend.

Congratulations to all for your hard work!

Dr. Thomas P. Anderson Memorial Prize in History

The ECSU Department of History is proud to announce the establishment of the Dr. Thomas P. Anderson Memorial Prize in History for students attending Eastern. The prize is to be awarded by the Department of History to a graduating senior history major who has exhibited exceptional scholarly achievement in this field during his or her undergraduate years. The first recipient will be named in the Spring 2017.

Dr. Thomas P. Anderson was a professor in Eastern’s History Department from 1969 until his retirement in 1994, and served for many years as a chair of the department. He was also a distinguished scholar and expert in Latin American history.  He was named a Connecticut State University (CSU) Professor in 1990 and received professor emeritus status following his retirement. The Memorial l Prize was established in his honor by his family members.

Thomas P. Anderson

Thomas P. Anderson


Another award for History majors!

Congratulations (once again) to History major Talia Erris, whose “Five Feet of Feminine Anarchy: Press Depictions of Emma Goldman From 1892-1901” won Eastern’s 2016 Library Research Award in the Junior/Senior category.

Senior History major Talia Erris (L) and her project advisor, Dr Caitlin Carenen

Senior History major Talia Erris (L) and her project advisor, Dr Caitlin Carenen (R)

Turns out History majors have to use the library after all.

Group photo of Library Research Award winners, faculty and assorted dignitaries

Group photo of Library Research Award winners, faculty and assorted dignitaries