Simpson University History Students, Alum Present at Conferences

For Immediate Release


Simpson University history students attend the Northern California Regional Phi Alpha Theta Conference at CSU Stanislaus on April 18.

REDDING, Calif. - Three Simpson University history students and one history alumnus presented research papers this spring at conferences in California.

Caleb SandersCaleb Sanders, a 2011 graduate from Weed who is pursuing a master’s degree in history at Sacramento State University, was selected by the university’s history department to represent them at the 29th annual CSU Student Research Competition, May 1-2 at CSU San Bernardino. He was one of 10 students selected from the entire university.

Sanders’ paper is titled “The Awakening Dragon: China, Self-Determination, and the First World War.”

“I was so pleased to hear about Caleb’s opportunity at this research competition,” said Dr. John Ayabe, associate professor of history. “He is an outstanding scholar of history, and it’s rewarding to see that faculty at other institutions have recognized his talents.”

Sanders, who will start teaching high school history and Bible at a Christian school in the fall, said Simpson University prepared him well for graduate school.

“The small class sizes allowed for more discussions and debates, better personal interaction with professors, clearer feedback concerning papers and presentations, and more opportunities to develop my research, writing, presentation and teaching skills,” he said. “Many students from major research institutes did not have that level of opportunity.”

Sanders also noted that his professors “challenged and prepared me for entering a secular university where my Christian biblical values are challenged in many ways.”

On April 18, Simpson University seniors Sadie Brown, Melanie Shank and Justin Thomason presented research papers at the Northern California Regional Phi Alpha Theta Conference at CSU Stanislaus.

Their papers are titled “Superman: The Face of American Patriotism During World War II” (Shank); “Theodore Roosevelt’s ‘Battle for the Lord’: Blending Christianity and Socialism During the Progressive Movement” (Thomason); and “Somalis’ Nominal Independence: How Somalis’ Reliance on Foreign Aid Contributed to Their State Failure” (Brown).

The conference is an annual event for history students who are members of Phi Alpha Theta, a national honor society for history. In addition to the student presentations, Simpson history professors John Ayabe and Phillip Fox chaired panels for students from the other universities.

“Our Simpson trio did a terrific job,” Dr. Ayabe said. “They gave talks alongside students from Chico State, San Jose State, University of the Pacific, CSU Stanislaus, Fresno State and Mills College.”

Simpson University’s bachelor of arts in history offers preparatory training for careers in education, public history, business, industry, commerce, government sectors, as well as graduate studies. It offers specializations in pre-law, U.S. history, European history, and Non-Western/Non-U.S. history. Learn more at

Group photo courtesy of Sadie Brown / Simpson University history students attend the Northern California Regional Phi Alpha Theta Conference at CSU Stanislaus on April 18. From left, Isaac Kieffaber, Sadie Brown, Kristen Smith, Melanie Shank, and Justin Thomason. Brown, Shank and Thomason presented papers at the event.


Simpson University, established in 1921, is a Christian university offering undergraduate, graduate, and teaching credential programs. The university celebrated its 25th year in Redding and the completion of a Science and Nursing Center in 2014. Academic programs include ASPIRE, a degree-completion program geared toward working adults with both on-campus and online course offerings, including degrees in psychology and organizational leadership. For information about the university, or to arrange a campus visit, call 1-888-9-SIMPSON or visit


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