Phi Alpha Theta makes history

Phi Alpha Theta, Sam Houston State University’s National History Honor Society, has received the national “best chapter award”.

For the first time in over a decade, the chapter submitted a scrapbook highlighting Phi Alpha Theta’s, Sigma Phi chapter’s involvement in conferences for Region 5, as well as several events, which ultimately outshone the other five divisions in the nation.

“Winning this award is a testament to the hard work and talents of our history majors and minors,” faculty advisor Brian Jordan said. “I am thrilled that our students have received the national recognition they so richly deserve. This is a landmark achievement”

SHSU’s Sigma Phi chapter of Phi Alpha Theta chapter was established in 1978 and currently has 48 active members. Nationally there are now 22,000 members and six divisions, SHSU being in Division 5.

“I find it amazing that our small group, having really no recognition on a national level, was able to win something so substantial,” Phi Alpha Theta President Briana Weaver said. “Over the last year, we have really been trying to get the word out that we are here on campus.”

Not only does the Sigma Alpha chapter get recognition, but the acceptance of the award will be announced at the Phi Alpha Theta bi-annual National Conference next January in New Orleans. The Department will also receive a $250 stipend for books, with which they plan to purchase the books from their next speaker and give them to the initiates next spring, so they can get them signed.

“I think it shows an interest in the field and that our department is growing exponentially,” Phi Alpha Theta Vice President Ingrid Patino said. “It also allows us to go to our department; since we are bringing in new students we are able to request more funding and do more of these events.”

With 25 new inductees last year, the chapter is trying to get more active on campus and spread involvement. They will even induct a faculty member this upcoming year.

“This year we are inducting last year’s Chair of the Department, so that is a huge honor for us,” Patino said.

To become a member of Phi Alpha Theta students are required to complete at least 4 courses of history (12 hours), maintain a 3.0 or better overall GPA, and 3.1 or better GPA in history for undergraduate students. Graduate students must have at least a 3.5 GPA and have fulfilled the residency requirements that graduates have.

“It’s great if you’re planning a degree in history or in the humanities,” Patino said. “It helps to get your name out there and do things, such as Conference 101 and Grad School, and prepping for continued education.”

Phi Alpha Theta holds a series of development meetings every other week, lectures from professors in the History department, and among those, they also work in lunches with guest historians on campus.

“[Phi Alpha Theta] is a wonderful organization for networking,” Weaver said. “Regularly we bring in historians to have private lunches with us. We send out a weekly newsletter to all our members announcing upcoming conference opportunities, and paper opportunities for publication.”

On Nov. 10, Phi Alpha Theta is having its third Annual Veterans Day Breakfast and Program, at the College of Humanities and Social Sciences Water Wall at 10 a.m.

“It is the biggest chapter event that we hold for the entire community and the school, and it’s growing steadily each year,” Weaver said. “Dr. Ashley Smith from the business department will be giving a speech.”

Next event will be a lecture from SHSU history professor Dr. Benjamin Parker, called “Who’s Afraid of a Puritan Witch” which will be a history lesson on the Salem Witch Trials.

“Unless it is specifically announced, most of our events are public to anyone that wants to come,” Weaver said. “Next semester we will be having a career option [event] for historians, which is good for students who aren’t even in Phi Alpha Theta because most undergraduate students think you have to teach or go on to get a Ph.D. and that’s not the case.”

This award has given Phi Alpha Theta well deserved recognition and the opportunity to transform a relatively unknown group of historians into a growing organization on SHSU’s campus.

“Come join us and come check it out,” Patino said. “New members are always welcome.”

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