History honor society receives 21st consecutive national award

Member of Phi Alpha Theta strive to delve deep into history with field trips and other activities. Submitted photo

Member of Phi Alpha Theta strive to delve deep into history with field trips and other activities. Submitted photo

Striving to bring history to Oklahoma Christian University, members of Phi Alpha Theta brought home the society’s 21st consecutive Best Chapter national award.

Phi Alpha Theta is the student led and faculty advised history honor society on campus.

This award is given to chapters that host an abundance of activities among the students in the organization and demonstrate excellence. Of the 900 chapters in the United States, Oklahoma Christian competes in the division one chapter, which includes schools with 3,000 or fewer students.

Distinguished Professor of History John Maple participated in Phi Alpha Theta his senior year of college at Oklahoma Christian and has been the sponsor since 1983.

“Being a former member of this organization, I knew that it would provide a lot of excellent experiences outside the classroom,” Maple said. “It’s one thing to earn an education by experiences in class compared to getting up in front of a group and presenting a paper and seeing what a scholarly conference is like, being able to put these things on your resume is another thing. If you are applying for law school or even just a job these are things that dress up your resume and make you stand out. I knew this would be beneficial for the students.”

Maple said staying active in Phi Alpha Theta is one of the most important contributes to this organization because it shows how hard the students work and their determination.

“Some main ways we stay active is simply going to history museums and helping host a history day, which is a national and educational program for 6th through 12th graders,” Maple said. “In June we send in an application that is about nine to 10 pages long stating all of the different things that we do. We also create a PowerPoint along with the application of about 65 to 70 slides to illustrate pictures of us at conferences or different events that we have participated in.”

Maple said to continue winning this award he chooses his officers carefully each year and sets his expectations high for those that are in the running to be chosen.

Sheldon Yeakley, Phi Alpha Theta president, said he loves getting the opportunity to be president of this organization and work with other students that enjoy history as much as he does.

“To get into Phi Alpha Theta you receive an invitation based on how many history courses you have been in and your grades,” Yeakley said. “It is a great resume booster and a really good way for getting a glimpse of what historians do. When I received my invitation sophomore year to get into this organization I didn’t even know what it was, but once I went to the first meeting and started getting involved I loved it and thought it would be a great opportunity.”

Phi Alpha Theta goes to a regional conference every year and a national conference every other year.

“Students get to choose if they would like to take their papers and present them at these conferences or not,” Yeakley said. “I have gotten the chance to present two papers at these conferences, one at national and one at regional, which has been a great experience that has really benefited me.”

Vice President Rose Schaefer said Phi Alpha Theta reflects the quality of Oklahoma Christians faculty and how encouraging they are to students.

“This organization is very beneficial to anyone in it,” Schaefer said. “It has helped me build my speaking skills, improve my writing skills and the feedback I receive from people in and outside of OC has really helped me improve as a student. The fact OC has received this award 21 consecutive times really proves how quality of a school it is and even just shows how encouraging the faculty is to all of the students by the way they challenge us academically.”

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