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Published on April 15, 2021

History students present at Phi Alpha Theta regional conference

Eastern Connecticut State University history students Claire Lavarreda ‘21 and Allen Horn ’21 recently presented at the Phi Alpha Theta History Honors Society - New England Regional Conference hosted by Saint Anselm College. Due to Covid-19, the event was held virtually on Saturday, March 27, 2021. The conference included 25 student presenters grouped into 11 panels from 16 colleges across the Northeast.

Presenting with other history students, Lavarreda and Horn each presented a paper drawn from their research conducted during history coursework at Eastern. Lavarreda presented her paper, “Race in the European Enlightenment: An Analysis of Black Treatment in 18th Century England,” based on her coursework taken with Dr. Ostwald in the History Department. Her paper analyzed the types of social thought and racial theory present in England during the 18th century.

“It was an interesting experience because I feel like most students just do research and turn in their papers for a grade,” Lavarreda said. “This conference was totally different, because members of the audience would ask questions and want more information, so you really had to know your topic and enjoy discussing it. I would recommend that everyone try presenting a paper!”

Based upon the strength of her research and presentation, Lavarreda also won one of the six Phi Alpha Theta prize pins awarded to outstanding student presenters at the conference.

Horn presented his paper, “‘I do my best for my horses and am sorry for them:’ Massachusetts Cavalrymen’s Attachments to their Horses,” part of his honors research conducted under Dr. Balcerski in the History Department. His paper examined how Civil War cavalry soldiers viewed their steeds, through the papers of two Massachusetts cavalrymen.

“I had a wonderful time and got to answer some interesting questions from the virtual audience,” Horn said. “Presenting at undergraduate conferences like Phi Alpha Theta is a great way to develop public speaking skills and get new perspectives on your research, and I hope to see more Eastern students at future ones.”

To attend the conference, Eastern students in Phi Alpha Theta must be invited by the honors society. Professor Thomas Balcerski, co-adviser to Phi Alpha Theta, said to be inducted into the honor society students need an overall GPA of at least 3.0, with at least a 3.1 in the History major. Students must also achieve junior standing at Eastern.

“I am very proud of both student presenters at the conference,” Balcerski said. “The Phi Alpha Theta regional conference has traditionally been an excellent venue for students to test out new ideas in front of a friendly audience and obtain valuable feedback in the process. This year’s meeting was no exception.”

Written by Tom Balcerski