By Amy Butala Pihl Ι May 11, 2015
On Thursday, May 7, the Kansas Wesleyan University’s history department held its annual Senior Thesis Forum. Graduating seniors who had studied history in their time as students presented their research papers — which can also be described as their own personal magnum opuses.
The senior thesis forum is all about giving students who have done extensive historical research the opportunity to present their research topics to a panel of professors, peers and local professionals in historical fields of study.
This year two young women had the task of presenting their topics, and I was lucky enough to be invited to sit and listen to their amazing presentations. Each year KWU’s history seniors utilize a wide variety of resources from the library’s Campbell Room of Kansas History, and my colleagues and I have the privilege of scouring our archives to find resources relevant to the students’ topics.
KWU’s history seniors use a variety of research methods and resources to find what they need to create a topic of research. Then they typically pour over, dissect, interpret, study and draw conclusions from the historical elements they have before them.
Did any of that sound stuffy? It’s not, I promise. It’s terrifying. I know because I’ve been there.
History is one of my passions. It’s what I studied as a student at Kansas Wesleyan University, and it’s what I often get to immerse myself in at the library whenever I’m asked a question about local history. When I was a student at KWU, I was tasked with writing a senior thesis research paper, just like the two women I observed on Thursday. Writing my senior thesis was the hardest thing I’d ever done academically at that point in my young life.
I remember agonizing over narrowing my scope of interests into a finite and specific topic. I remember pouring over the resources in the library’s Campbell Room of Kansas History. I remember staying up all night the week before my final paper was due, inhaling Sour Patch Kids and Skittles in hopes that a sugar buzz would keep me awake long enough to finish a few more pages.
I clearly had not yet discovered the joys of coffee.
But I digress.
Kansas Wesleyan University’s history program is something I hold dear to my heart, mostly because I survived it. The program is rigorous and demanding, and — admittedly in a sugar coma — I survived the process of researching, stressing, writing, rewriting, crying, stressing some more, writing some more and finally hitting “print” at the end of it all. I applaud the efforts of Thursday’s scholars and love that I can look forward to helping next year’s bright minds.
Bright, yet completely stressed out if we’re being honest.