Senior Michelle Critchfield, Hesston, Kansas, won Best Undergraduate Paper at the 59th Annual Missouri Valley History Conference, hosted by the University of Nebraska at Omaha on March 4 and 5. Her paper, Identity and Ethnicity in Late Medieval Britain, was one of 50 undergraduate papers presented at the conference.

Three other Baker seniors presented papers: Anna Hobbs, Leavenworth, Kansas; Sam Kendrick, Richards, Missouri; and Collin Studer, Wathena, Kansas. Alumni John Patchen, ’14, and Andrew Woodworth, ’12, and Nicholaus Pumphrey, assistant professor of religious students, and John Richards, associate professor of history, also presented papers.

This year’s conference drew participants from 70 universities and 24 states. In five trips to the conference, Baker has won the best undergraduate paper three times. Baker alumnus Andrew Woodworth won the best graduate student award in 2012 and 2013.

“The remarkable thing for me has been the change that occurs in students after they have attended and presented,” Richards said. “It’s an intimidating experience to present your research in front of strangers, to have professors from other schools evaluate your work before the audience, and then to field questions from the members of the audience. The wonderful thing is that students want to return every year. This was Michelle’s second year and the difference in her confidence and professionalism was evident.”

Undergraduate papers are submitted to the conference by sponsoring faculty, who submit an abstract of the paper, the student’s resume and a letter of support. After a paper has been accepted, the student submits the completed paper to the conference coordinator for review. The winner is announced at the luncheon on the first full day of the conference.

“I am extremely grateful to have received this award from the Missouri Valley History Conference. It is wonderful to get recognition for all of my hard work and many hours spent on this paper. I am thankful to the professors that have encouraged me to become a better writer throughout my time at Baker,” Critchfield said.

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