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ASH officers Sec. Micca Metz, Pres. Abby Lagemann, VP Dan Mieszala, and Treas. Bethany Bekas

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ASH service project at Western Illinois Museum

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ASH receives Outstanding Organization Award from Dean Inessa Levi


ASH Receives 2009 Student Organization Award from CAS

May 9, 2009

The Associated Students of History (ASH) received the 2009 Student Council Departmental Organization Recognition Award from the College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) Student Council, CAS Associate Dean Jim Schmidt announced. ASH's officers, President Abby Lagemann, Vice President Dan Mieszala, Secretary Micca Metz, and Treasurer Bethany Bekas, and ASH's Faculty Advisor, Dr. Jennifer McNabb, Assistant Professor of History, were honored at the CAS Awards Reception on May 8.

ASH is open to all undergraduate and graduate students interested in History, whether or not they are History majors or minors or not. While ASH's 35 members are predominantly History majors and minors, the organization also has members who are Biology, Computer Science, and Political Science majors but share an affinity for history.

ASH has engaged in a variety of professional development activities this year. These programs for students included "So You Want to be a History Teacher?," a panel of secondary education professionals who provided information for history majors and others interested in careers in secondary education. The event was also attended by many non-history majors, and even students who are not pursuing a degree in education. ASH also has hosted, twice per semester, meetings for history professors to speak to history students about their current research, which not only allows students to learn about the topics being presented, but also to get an idea of the demands of academia beyond teaching. ASH also regularly hosts undergraduate student research presentations, particularly for those preparing for professional conference presentations and for Undergraduate Research Day here at WIU. This gives students the opportunity not only to learn about others' research but also to present their own.

ASH also participates in campus service activities each year. Last year members of ASH helped spread mulch at Lake Ruth for part of WIU's "We Care" Day. This year ASH has formed an American Cancer Society Relay for Life team made up of History students and faculty, which raised more than $1,000 for cancer research. ASH has also recently volunteered for an "ASH Work Day" at the Western Illinois Museum in downtown Macomb. Perhaps ASH's most unusual "service" event involved selling whipped cream pies to be thrown at ASH advisor Dr. McNabb, who was held in the pillory (an early modern shaming punishment) constructed by ASH president Abby Lagemann; proceeds from this fundraiser were donated to the History Department's Larry T. Balsamo Scholarship Fund. ASH's service to the History Department has also included sponsoring a "History Course Fair" each semester, at which History professors inform students about the courses they will be teaching the following semester.

ASH's members also gather regularly for social and educational opportunities. This year, ASH inaugurated an annual Fall Kick-Off Party, co-hosted with the History Department, to welcome History students and faculty back to campus. This year's event included a display of undergraduate research projects and was attended by several dignitaries from the University, including College of Arts and Sciences (CAS) Dean Inessa Levi and WIU Provost Jack Thomas. The first ASH meeting of the academic year is dedicated to presentations from students and faculty about their summer travel and research on a variety of topics in history. ASH's periodic evenings of pizza and trivia support fellowship among students and faculty every semester. Each year ASH hosts a friendly trivia competition between the History Department students and faculty and the Political Science students and faculty, supporting camaraderie and cooperation between the two CAS disciplines. ASH also regularly shows movies pertaining to various topics in history, usually preceded by an introduction from a History professor who is an expert on the topic. In addition, each year ASH and the Department of History co-sponsor a field trip to an area of historic interest in Western Illinois. This year ASH went to Bishop Hill, a Swedish utopian community founded in the nineteenth century.

The Associated Students of History has grown twofold over the past year. The group's dedication to learning and love for history can be seen through the many programs they host each year. ASH sponsors events that provide valuable professional development information for WIU students, as well as a number of programs aimed at increasing attendees' knowledge of the past. Students who participate in ASH form lasting friendships through activities that form a bond between those with an affinity for history and historical research. Through ASH, students who produce undergraduate research on any topic in history have a place to present their work. Because of the many opportunities for presentations of both student and faculty work, ASH exemplifies the university's dedication to student and faculty research; many ASH members have received Undergraduate Research Grants from the College of Arts and Sciences and History Department and have shared their research findings with the organization, at WIU's Undergraduate Research Day, and at off-campus conferences. ASH has a tradition of more experienced students sharing research ideas and tips with those who have less experience in these areas, which encourages a new group of undergraduate researchers each year.

Students involved in ASH are also involved in leadership activities across campus, including residence hall government, various service and volunteer groups, and other university organizations, showing that ASH is conducive to personal growth and provides opportunities for leadership experience that can benefit students not only in the organization but also throughout the University. ASH officers are regularly involved in the Department of History's recruitment efforts to bring new first-year and transfer students to the University. Through volunteer projects like We Care and Relay for Life, ASH members also provide service to the University community at-large. ASH is not only an organization that provides valuable programs for those in our own academic department but holds events that are regularly attended by students from a number of other disciplines. Through the close connections forged among students and between faculty and students in ASH, the organization helps history to come alive at WIU, while giving back to the University and Macomb communities.

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