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Cumberlands student wins national essay contest


WILLIAMSBURG, Ky. – Mary Osborne, a junior at University of the Cumberlands, was recently awarded the 2006 Undergraduate Essay Prize sponsored by the United States Branch of the Western Front Association and Phi Alpha Theta, the international history honor society. Osborne’s essay, originally written for her Historical Methods course, is titled “Fighting in the Trenches of the Mind: How the Committee on Public Information ‘Held Fast the Inner Lines’ in 1917-1918.”

The national contest was open to any undergraduate student at an American college or university. Limited to 3,000 words, the essay could address any aspect of American involvement in the World War I era.

A panel of WFA members and historians chaired by Graydon Tunstall, executive director of Phi Alpha Theta, judged the papers. Osborne received a certificate and a $1000 cash prize.

“I was ecstatic but shocked to learn my paper had won, as it was the first research paper I had ever written for a college history course,” says Osborne. “I couldn’t be happier about the award.”

Osborne hopes to use the prize money for a future trip to Europe. After leaving Cumberlands, she plans to earn a Master of Arts in public history and then work as a museum curator or archivist, specializing in World War I history.

Osborne is currently the secretary of Upsilon-Upsilon, Cumberlands’ Phi Alpha Theta chapter, captain of the academic team, a tutor at the Academic Resource Center and plays handbells.

Dr. Eric Wake, chair of Cumberlands’ history and political science department, says that this prize is an important accomplishment for Osborne and the department.

University of the Cumberlands, located in Williamsburg, Kentucky, is a private liberal arts college in its 118th year of operation. Cumberlands offers four undergraduate degrees in 37 major fields of study, 30 minors and nine pre-professional programs, graduate degrees and certifications in education as well as online and accelerated, nontraditional programs for adults.