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Recent graduates win national awards for history papers

Two Liberty University alumni recently received awards from the Phi Alpha Theta (PAT) national history honor society’s National Paper Competition, with one winning the grand prize.

Liberty University graduate and Phi Alpha Theta national paper prize-winner Karissa Marken.
Recent Liberty University graduate Karissa Marken won the grand prize in a national paper competition.

Karissa Marken (’14) and Catherine Hardee (’14), who both earned M.A. degrees in history, took home two of the four prizes awarded in the national competition. Marken received the top honor, the coveted 2014 George P. Hammond Paper Prize, for her paper, “Reluctan­t Radicals: West Virginia Guerillas who Fought for Self-Preservation, 1861-1865.” She was awarded $500 as part of the grand prize.

“The history professors at Liberty set the bar high, and I always felt challenged to never be satisfied with the status quo,” said Marken. “I am gratified to know that objective judges rank my writing and research skills favorable in comparison to my peers in my field.”

Hardee, who was a member of the Quiz Bowl team at Liberty and recently won over $97,000 on Jeopardy!, received one of two 2014 Nels Andrew Cleven Founder’s Paper Prizes, for which she was given a $400 prize. Her work was titled “Fighting a Cold War in Cold Weather: The Role of the Cold War in the Establishment of Ft. Greely, Alaska.” 

This is the fourth consecutive year that Liberty has had at least one winner in the competition at the graduate level, and it marks the first time a Liberty student has won the Hammond Prize.

The papers were entered in June, and the winners were announced this month. About 100 students nationwide submitted papers for the contest.

Marken’s paper was a portion of her master’s thesis. She said that she was interested in the topic due to her fascination with the mountaineers of western Virginia who had to engage in guerilla warfare during the American Civil War in order to survive.

Catherine Hardee, a 2014 MA graduate of Liberty, won a prize for her history research.
Catherine Hardee (’14) was one of four prize-winners in a national history paper writing competition.

Hardee’s paper, also a chapter from her graduate thesis, examined the period between the end of World War II and 1955, and the way in which the tensions of the Cold War led to the establishment of a permanent army installation where there had previously been a temporary wartime post near Delta Junction, Alaska.

“Liberty provided me with such a wonderful environment to learn, and with fantastic professors who challenged me to do my best and expanded my mind and abilities,” Hardee said.

Graduate students in the PAT are required to have at least a 3.5 GPA for membership. There are more than 500,000 members in the society nationwide.