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Mentor Awards


Professor Thomas Balcerski


Professor Fatma Pakdil

Thomas Balcerski, Associate Professor of History

“My honors thesis, “Maggie’s Ride: The Life and Legacy of a Civil War Horse,” examines the roles horses played for Americans in Civil War era. My thesis mentor, Dr. Thomas J. Balcerski, helped me develop several critical skills during our time working together. In the spring of 2019, he took me on as a research assistant for his book “Bosom Friends: The Intimate World of James Buchanan and William Rufus King,” where he taught me how to read 19th-century handwriting, take detailed and helpful notes on secondary sources, and effectively use digital history databases. These abilities were ultimately integral to my thesis research.   

“Dr. Balcerski also taught me networking and public speaking skills. At conferences and meetings, he introduced me to other historians and encouraged me to reach out to people working in my field. Dr. Balcerski also helped me successfully apply to and present at several conferences during the 2020-21 school year. Getting to know other historians helped me learn to navigate the professional history world, while presenting at conferences has greatly enhanced my public speaking skills. 

“Dr. Balcerski has been an excellent and helpful advisor to me since my earliest days at Eastern Connecticut State University. I switched my major from social work to history because of his engaging and intellectually stimulating Early American History class that I took my freshman year. 

“When the COVID-19 pandemic began, Dr. Balcerski was very understanding of the complicated and stressful situation I was facing. During the fall 2020 semester, we met once a week to go over my progress and work through any problems I faced. These meetings helped to keep me on schedule and allowed me to finish my thesis on time. Dr. Balcerski also made many great suggestions for my writing. He helped me refine my thesis to be scholarly, understandable, and engaging for all audiences. Additionally, he assisted me with writing properly and respectfully about the heavy topics of American slavery and racism that my paper dealt with. 

“Thanks to his kind assistance furthering my thesis and historian abilities, I was accepted into the University of Maine’s master’s program in history with a fully funded graduate assistantship. Dr. Balcerski has been there for me since I started at Eastern, and there is no one more deserving of the Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity Mentor award than he.” 

Allen Horn IV ’21


Fatma Pakdil, Professor of Management and Marketing

“Dr. Pakdil is a wonderful role model, as evidenced by her success and accomplishments within the world of academia. I am grateful to have had her support over the past two years at Eastern Connecticut State University. Her supervision and guidance in the development and completion of my Honors thesis was invaluable. Dr. Pakdil provided countless hours of encouragement and support. She shared her skills, knowledge and expertise with me, always in a patient manner. She challenged me to be introspective, thoughtful and to problem solve whenever I stumbled. 

“Dr. Pakdil allowed to me to learn by not doing tasks for me but by providing the guidance and confidence to be independent. She was committed to my learning and education. Dr. Pakdil was sympathetic, reliable, provided constructive feedback and encouragement when necessary. Dr. Pakdil was a constant in my life these past two years and was always available to me via email and/or one-on-one meetings. I always felt that I could go to her for support. 

Dr. Pakdil also pushed me to believe in myself and towards numerous academic opportunities. She encouraged me to register for many conferences, to enter into a student paper competition – Healthcare Application Society (HAS) INFORMS student paper competition; to submit my project for publication consideration in a peer-reviewed scholarly journal, the Journal of Patient Safety; along with a number of awards. Dr. Pakdil’s kind words of encouragement and her belief in me as a student, allowed me the confidence to be a better person and to grow professionally. I owe much of my success to Dr. Pakdil.” 

Hannah Beazoglou ’21