Recent alum receives history honor



As he spends his semester student teaching in the cold state of Alaska, 2012 graduate Jake Bury has the satisfaction of a job well done to keep him warm.

Bury was recently awarded the Nels Andrew Cleven Founder’s Paper Prize for his senior honors thesis, “The Church’s War: The Church of England during the Great War.”

The award comes from Phi Alpha Theta, the national history honors society, which was founded by Nels Andrew Cleven in 1921.  Bury hopes this award will help him as he continues his education in history.

“Every little bit counts, especially in graduate school with history,” Bury said. “They’re looking at applicants who already have a research focus in mind.”

Bury’s research focus came from his senior seminar in which he was assigned to complete a research paper in the subject of World War I.

“I didn’t have a ton of background knowledge on the subject. I just tried to narrow that topic down as much as I could,” Bury said.

Bury wanted to focus his research on a topic that had not been extensively covered already. He narrowed his focus to studying the Church of England during the first few years of the war.

At the end of the semester, Bury decided to continue his research and pursue an honors thesis.

Along the way, he sought help from his history advisor, Peg Preston, who encouraged him to submit his paper to Phi Alpha Theta.

“This is the first time that we have pursued this,” Preston said of the award. “Jake wasn’t just going up against South Dakotans. He was going up on the national level against all these other people, and he won.”

Winning this award reflects positively on Augustana and the history department, according to Preston.

“I couldn’t tell people fast enough that Jake had won this award,” she said.

Bury also takes pride in this accomplishment.

“It definitely vindicated the amount of work I did other than just the personal accomplishment I felt.”