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New scholarship bridges history and the future

Friendship Bridge on the Boise State campus in the early fall

“It was my idea—out of frustration mostly,” says Joanne Klein, associate chair and undergraduate advisor in the Department of History. “We had three or four incoming freshmen apply for history scholarships and it just turned out, because some scholarships are renewable, that none of them were eligible for any of our available scholarships. I felt so bad, because any of them would have been great.”

Klein says that she came out of the teaching committee meeting which evaluates applications and awards scholarships and went straight to Lisa Brady, the chair of the History Department. Brady recalls the conversation, “I just did what I could to support it. She identified this need and wanted to do something to support our students. I thought, ‘absolutely, I will do everything I can,’ because it’s important for our students but it’s also important to recognize that our faculty really want to do this excellent work.”

Brady emailed Melanie Bannister, the development director for the College of Arts and Sciences, and asked to meet about creating a scholarship specifically for incoming freshmen who declare history as their major. But they had to come up with a name for the scholarship.

Klein remembered a pertinent fact from a program review project she participated in several years ago. She researched and wrote a departmental history as part of the project and discovered that Warren Tozer, a former faculty member in the history department, spearheaded the Boise Green Belt group that built the Friendship Bridge back in 1977. The name of the bridge symbolizes the friendship between the university and the city of Boise.

The bridge can be seen outside the door of the history department. Inside, a mural including the bridge decorates one wall, “so we’ve kind of adopted the Friendship Bridge as our unofficial mascot,” Klein says. Brady adds that, “there’s this connection to our department both in terms of the history of the bridge itself and because it’s right outside our department.” “So calling this the Friendship Bridge History Scholarship just seemed like a natural thing,” says Klein. The official fund documents read, “This scholarship adopts the name to symbolize the friendly transition from high school to Boise State’s Department of History.”

Both Klein and Brady attended college on scholarships and recognize how every level of support helps. “Not everyone has parents who are able to help so this is my way of helping the next generation of history majors,” Klein says. Brady hopes that students from rural Idaho and from underrepresented communities apply, noting that “this might make the difference for them” in achieving their goal of studying history at Boise State. “If someone is willing to commit to being an historian from the get go, I want to support them all the way.”

Klein and Brady are both contributing to the Friendship Bridge History Scholarship so that they can award $650 per year to an incoming freshmen student who declares History as their major. As few as 25 donors could go a long way toward creating a sustaining endowment fund for this scholarship. If you wish to contribute, select “Friendship Bridge History Scholarship” from the drop-down menu on the College of Arts and Sciences donation page to help secure the future for the next generation of historians. Who knows? You may end up supporting a future president of the United States or the CEO of a Fortune 500 company (History majors succeed in many professions).

The Department of History at Boise State encourages a deeper understanding of our world–a bridge to the past, present, and future–and lays a solid foundation for success by teaching students how to think through complicated questions, find and analyze data, develop innovative and creative answers, and communicate those answers effectively. In so doing, new historians develop a deeper knowledge of the inner workings of global cultures, societies, economies, and political systems and leave college ready to succeed in any career they choose.