When told she'd won an award for her history paper, Gail Langseth thought there was a mix-up.
“I am the lamest writer you ever read,” she said. “I can put teachers to sleep faster than cold medicine, so this is very surreal.”
After her student ID number confirmed she actually had received WSU’s Howard C. Payne Award, the Distance Degree Programs student tried a different tack: “Maybe no one else in the class submitted anything," she suggested, "and I was the only choice they had.”
The winning paper was written for Professor Richard Williams’ History 341 course, Rome: Republic and Empire.
More... Williams called Langseth's paper "an excellent discussion, covering all that I asked, and going much farther to look at a generational divide as well as political and social differences."
The Committee on Undergraduate Curriculum & Instruction gave the award. The panel looks for a well-researched project that uses primary sources, presents facts, gives a clear logical historical analysis, and places research in a broad historical context, said Patricia Thorsten-Mickelson, the history department’s administrative manager.
Along with those factors, Langseth's paper was also "a pleasure to read," said Williams, who gave her a 100 on the exam. ("When is C a good grade?" he wrote. "When it is in Roman numerals.")
“Williams was a great history teacher who really made the class fun,” Langseth said. “He was very responsive to student questions and provided really pertinent feedback on all our school work.”
The award comes with a $250 prize. Langseth says she’ll use the money for tuition.
“I love school,” she said, “and if I don't have the cash, I can't take classes. This will help keep me going!”