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UW Graduate Succeeds Through TRiO McNair Scholars Program

May 30, 2013
Chad Gibbs

Growing up in Woodstock, Ill., Chad Gibbs developed a love for history. His grandfather had an amazing collection of historical books, and they would read and watch documentaries together. His grandfather was his first history teacher, Gibbs says.

That love of history gave Gibbs the opportunity to succeed at the University of Wyoming, where he recently graduated with bachelor’s degree in history and had an overall 4.0 grade point average. He also was a finalist for the Tobin Award given to the top male graduate each school year, and was among the top 20 graduating seniors in the College of Arts and Sciences this spring.

After graduating from high school, Gibbs entered the Army in 2002 and completed one tour of duty in Iraq. He received a Purple Heart for wounds received in action. His military career allowed him to attend college.

With a strong interest in World War II, Gibbs enrolled at UW in 2009 to major in history. His interest in history was solidified even more after taking a class taught by David Messenger, UW Department of History associate professor.

“Dr. Messenger is a really good instructor and a really nice person. He teaches the difficult history of the Holocaust that allows students to gain insight into the subject matter,” Gibbs says.

While at UW, Gibbs was accepted into UW’s TRiO McNair Scholars Program -- a federally funded program designed to provide disadvantaged college students with effective preparation for doctoral study.

Last summer, Gibbs received a research stipend to conduct undergraduate research for eight weeks. Working with Messenger and graduate student mentor Nerissa Aksamit, Gibbs completed a high-quality project titled “Frontline Perpetrators of the Holocaust: Ideology and Motivation amongst Participants in the Field.”

After presenting his summer research project at the third annual Claremont, Calif., Graduate University McNair Conference last October, he began applying to graduate school. He has been accepted into the Master of Arts program at the University of Nebraska-Omaha beginning this fall. He will work with Waitman Beorn, history assistant professor and the inaugural Louis and Frances Blumkin Professor of Holocaust and Genocide Studies at UN-Omaha.

In addition to his scholarly activities, Gibbs was an active participant in the UW Veterans Center and was a key participant in the group that refurbished and rededicated the UW Vietnam Memorial on campus. He has participated in two study-abroad trips to Germany and plans to return during his graduate studies.

Funded by the U.S. Department of Education, the McNair Scholars Program is part of the federal TRiO programs that help students to overcome financial, cultural, social or academic barriers. UW offers six TRiO programs with outreach sites located throughout the state.

For more information, contact Susan Stoddard, McNair Scholars Program assistant director, at (307) 766-6525.

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