Gazebo Gazette

LONG BEACH (GG) — Stepping back in time is fun when you’re doing it with The University of Southern Mississippi (USM) Gulf Park’s Phi Alpha Theta student organization.

Twenty years ago, Dr. Douglas Bristol, associate professor of history at USM Gulf Park, discovered a need for a history community at the Long Beach campus. Since then, Phi Alpha Theta, an international history honors society, has welcomed history students to gather and share their love for historical events, scholarship opportunities, and research.

“The organization promotes scholarship, but also community among students who share an interest in history,” Dr. Bristol said.

Hannah Thurman, a senior history major at Gulf Park and president of Phi Alpha Theta, joined the group after being encouraged to do so by Dr. Bristol and former classmates. She enjoys gathering with the society and discussing historical events with other like-minded students and appreciates the encouragement it offers to its members to present their research at the university’s annual undergraduate symposium.

“I’ve learned so much through this society and getting to know others, and have discovered endowments and scholarships because of it,” Thurman said. “And we are all doing big research papers and can really support each other.”

Phi Alpha Theta also offers field trip opportunities to research historical events. Some of the most memorable trips for its members have been to the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, La., and Whitney Plantation in Wallace, La.

Thurman and Dr. Bristol also plan to jumpstart a history trivia night open to all students, not just history majors. Participating in community service projects is also an integral part of the group’s activities. With the new academic school year quickly approaching, Dr. Bristol hopes to resurrect community service opportunities for the group previously put on hold because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Students should be encouraged to join organizations that relate to their major,” Dr. Bristol said. “A really important part of the college experience is having a community of like-minded peers.”

Learn more about Gulf Park student organizations and Phi Alpha Theta.

(Contributed to by Gabriela Shinskie)