Tamara P. Thornton, Phi Alpha Theta Chapter Adviser
UB’s chapter of Phi Alpha Theta (PAT) did not just soldier on through the pandemic but actually grew. We had a record-breaking number of initiates at our Feb. 2021 online induction including nineteen undergraduates and five MA students. We couldn’t celebrate with the usual cake frosted with the PAT logo, but we did have the traditional ceremony with its mystical overtones: candlelight, the appearance of the “Spirit of Eternity” and the administration of oaths. Our chapter held no in-person events, but we did have a virtual 1950s “social guidance” film festival with gems like “How to Be Popular,” and there were many opportunities to “attend” history talks both on and off campus. Two of our students gave papers at the online PAT regional student research conference on April 24, sponsored by SUNY Geneseo. Russel Bassarath presented “The American Flag: Unifying Symbol or Symbol of False Hope,” and Sarah Wack delivered a paper on “Obscene America and Her Porno Queens: How Porn Reflects America’s Understanding of Sex with the Internet Paving the Way.”
Our chapter maintains contact with its alumni members, and this year, some have participated in online events and otherwise stayed in touch. This fall, I received an email from a PAT alumnus, Anthony Sole (BA ‘15), now in law school, who invited me to share his reflections on how important and valuable his study of history had been. “After struggling with finding a topic suitable for an invited law review article my historian brain kicked in. I thought to myself, 'historical perspective is absolutely necessary in advocating for modern legal changes.'" So, he decided to look at a modern issue that may require added historical perspective. “Without my historical research chops and my eye constantly towards gaining historical perspective, I probably would not have found this topic.” Suffice it to say that his law school story had a happy ending; he is now senior articles editor at the Rutgers University Law Review. “History is worthwhile,” he concluded, “and the degree and skills students develop will keep feeding their success long after they leave UB.”
Year four year of five-year
UB Teach for History program
Hometown: Buffalo, NY
Sarah is very excited to continue her education at UB as a History major and future educator! She is a member of the UB Honors College and also works as a writing consultant at UB’s Center for Excellence in Writing. Sarah loves to discuss anything and everything from the Roman Empire to the newest Disney movie with a Tim Horton’s hot chocolate. Her hobbies include running, reading, working on her book - now a trilogy - and watching tons of Netflix. After graduation, she hopes to teach History in a WNY high school.
What motivated you to join PAT?
I wanted a chance to meet other local history lovers and participate in PAT’s fun events hosted at UB. I’m currently looking forward to participating in the undergraduate conference being hosted in April 2021.
What areas of History do you enjoy studying most?
I’m a huge fan of Antiquity (especially the Roman Empire!) along with Gender and Sexuality studies.
What is something you would like to share with others about learning History?
History is always much more complicated than you might anticipate when you first dive in. With every new topic or event, you learn about, you can go in thinking it’s complicated and after researching more find that it’s far more complicated and nuanced that you originally thought - and that’s just the fun of it!