Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Shane Bell Awarded Clayton State Retirees Association Scholarship

Clayton State University graduate Shane Bell has been awarded the second graduate scholarship of the Clayton State Retirees Association (CSRA).

A 2007 graduate of Clayton State with a B.A. in History, Bell is currently enrolled in Clayton State’s Master of Arts in Liberal Studies program with a concentration in History. He is also an archives technician for the National Archives and Records Administration’s (NARA) Southeast Regional Archives, located adjacent to the Clayton State campus. A 1993 graduate of Mount Zion High School who now lives in McDonough, Ga., Bell is one of the outstanding success stories of the on-going relationship between Clayton State’s History Department and both the National and Georgia Archives.

“He is a student we can be proud of helping,” says CSRA President Dr. Joyce Swofford of the second recipient of the organization’s $1000 yearly scholarship.

“The breadth of the MALS program appealed to me from the start,” says Bell. “I liked the idea of a broad grounding in the liberal arts, especially in this era of almost extreme academic specialization. The kind of scope offered by the program will give me room to explore and find the right topic for my master’s thesis.”

Bell, who hopes to enter a Ph.D. program after earning his masters, credits current Clayton State History professors Dr. Adam Tate, Dr. Marko Maunula, Dr. Christopher Ward and retired professors Dr. Eugene Hatfield and Dr. Robert Welborn for their influence. Outside of History, he also recognizes the contributions of Clayton State English professors Dr. William Pasch and Dr. Gregory McNamara.

“Dr. McNamara was kind enough to organize and spearhead a trip in which several students presented papers at the Medieval and Renaissance Conference at the University of Virginia's College at Wise last fall,” notes Bell. “He was incredibly supportive; from critiquing our papers, to arranging the trip and getting us ready to present at our first academic conference.

“It was in Dr. Pasch's class that I really started thinking about going to graduate school. His comments about my work were always helpful and encouraging.”

“It's great to see such an outstanding student -- and human being -- realizing his potential -- and more!” responds Pasch, himself a retiree after more than 30 years at Clayton State.

Bell’s work outside of the classroom has also been exemplary. In conjunction with his position at NARA, he is a member of the University’s Martin Luther King Commemoration Committee, bringing considerable expertise on the Antebellum period, especially the Underground Railroad and the Atlantic Slave Trade. In fact, he recently returned from serving on a National Archives panel at the Network to Freedom Conference on the Underground Railroad in Philadelphia, where he spoke on NARA’s holdings on the Atlantic Slave Trade.

“Our conference panel was attended by about 40-45 people and NARA met with a good reception,” he reports. “Some of the records people knew about, but many were not aware of some of the more obscure stuff, like the illegal importation cases. My presentation highlighted several African-American related records, but my main focus was the illegal importation cases.

“Afterwards, I spoke with Underground Railroad enthusiasts, amateur historians, collectors, and even an artist who specializes in the period. It was a good experience, though I would [have been] much more nervous about speaking at this Philadelphia convention if it were not for Dr. McNamara.”

A unit of the University System of Georgia, Clayton State University is an outstanding comprehensive metropolitan university located 15 miles southeast of downtown Atlanta.
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