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History Students Present Research at Regional Conference

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Posted on Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Five Westminster history majors participated in this spring’s Western Pennsylvania Regional Phi Alpha Theta conference at Mercyhurst College in Erie, PA.

Phi Alpha Theta is an honor society for both undergraduate and graduate students majoring in history as well as professors of history. Phi Alpha Theta promotes the study of history through research, good teaching, publication and the exchange of learning and ideas among historians.

Colleges from across western Pennsylvania and western New York participated in the event. Each student presented their research based on a written paper to different panels, including:

  • “The Plight of the Jewish Refugee during the Roosevelt Administration” by Maria Synan
  • “Frances Perkins: FDR’s Conscience” by Ariel Clifford
  • “‘And the Torah Kept Us Alive’: The American Jewish Counter of Anti-Semitism in the US during the 1930s and ‘40s” by Tiffany Yearsley
  • “Murals of a New America: Lorin Thompson Junior, the New Deal and a New American Cultural Identity” by Kedric Reiser
  • “United for Change: How Russian Nationalism Influenced the Attempted Soviet Coup of August 1991” by Alec Fisanick

Clifford and Fisanick each won awards for “Best Paper in Panel.”

Dr. Angela Lahr, assistant professor of history, and Dr. Timothy Cuff, professor of history, traveled with the students to the conference.

“After listening to all of the presentations, I was impressed with the work of all five students,” said Lahr. “This was Ariel, Maria, and Tiffany’s first time presenting research, but all five delivered sound historical arguments quite professionally and in an engaging way. I was very proud of their presentations.”

For more information, contact Lahr at



Nicktown, PA
Alec Fisanick, a senior history major, is a son of Christian and Annette Fisanick and a graduate of Northern Cambria High School.

Mercer, PA
Kedric Reiser, a senior history major, is a son of Tod and Andrea Reiser and a graduate of Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School.

Valencia, PA
Ariel Clifford, a senior history major, is a daughter of Gregory & Brenda Clifford and a graduate of Mars Area High School.
Maria Synan, a junior history and business administration major, is a daughter of Patricia Synan and a graduate of Mars Area High School.

Woodbridge, VA
Tiffany Yearsley, a sophomore history and international studies major, is a daughter of Pamela Yearsley and a graduate of Potomac Senior High School.