Grand View Alumnus Smith Wins the Walden Freeman Prize

April 19, 2017

Grand View alumna Stephanie Smith won the Walden Freeman prize at the Alpha Chi National Research Conference held in Louisville, KY earlier this month. Stephanie is 2016 graduate in History. She presented her research paper "An Unwinnable War: Harry J Anslinger and the Origin of the War on Drugs." She worked very closely with both Dr. Tumpek and Dr. Plowman during her research project. Last month Stephanie, together with Dr. Tumpek, presented her research at the 60th Annual Missouri Valley History Conference.

Stephanie is a member of GV's chapter of Alpha Chi Honor society. She is currently working on getting her research paper published at the undergraduate research journal, Aletheia. Stephanie reflecting on her experience, “The main take-away that I have from attending this conference is the importance of collaborating among different fields. I presented on the topic of the War on Drugs and the role it played in the mass incarceration that we face today. I was struck by how many other presenters discussed things related to my topic, though they may be from completely different fields. For example, I had a long conversation with a man who was an art major and presented his piece which used symbolism to express his personal struggle with drug addiction. To see the drugs that I have studied from an academic standpoint illustrated so well from his personal experience was incredible. There was a woman who was a biology major who was able to develop tests that could identify if a person was predisposed to a mental health condition and the role that could play in diagnosis. Mental health and addiction go nearly hand in hand and her research could have far reaching implications when it comes to treating addiction. The first keynote speaker discussed his life as a poet and the way he coped with taking care of his combative father at the end of his life. His message was to treat people as humans and just be human with them, regardless of ideological differences. This is a common theme in the arguments for treating addiction as a mental health issue instead of a criminal one. The message in all of this is the importance of interdisciplinary study; by connecting with people on the human level and going beyond majors and departments, Alpha Chi was able to offer some new perspectives for me and for my research.”

Katharina Tumpek-Kjellmark, Professor of History and Stephanie’s advisor, says, “Stephanie and I originally discussed this project as a Senior Thesis which would refine her future research interests for graduate study.  I advised her that if she wanted  to pursue her PhD in history it would be important to search national programs for professors who published works in her area of research interest. She should read their work and consider how she would like to expand on their research. Our strategy was that she would present her essay at least at one professional conference, specifically the Missouri Valley History Conference, which she did in March 2017. She clearly possesses the academic motivation and intellect to pursue to graduate work in history and I have encouraged her to pursue her dream.  It has been a great joy and privilege to work with such a remarkable young woman.” 
Stephanie continues, “This lesson will be key as I move forward in my academic career. I plan to attend graduate school in the fall of 2018 to continue to study the relationship between drugs and incarceration, specifically within the 20th century of American History, but also further back, to the prevalence of drug use for all kinds of reasons, among all kinds of people. Once I’ve earned my PhD, I want to then use the skills and information I’ve gained to affect change on this topic. I believe that historians have a civic duty of sorts to go beyond their classrooms and their journals to use their extensive knowledge of the past to make our future better. There are many fantastic institutions that are already doing this work, such as The Sentencing Project, #cut50, and The Marshall Project, that I hope to be able to work for after graduation."  

Congratulations Stephanie!