2023 Irvington Historical Society’s Pat and John Ryan History Scholarship

by The Irvington Historical Society

The annual Irvington Historical Society’s Pat and John Ryan History Scholarship has been awarded to I.H.S. seniors Miles Demarest and Ryan Carron. The $1,000 scholarship is awarded each spring to Irvington High School seniors “whose love of history and intellectual achievements in pursuing historical research serve as a model for others.  Selection criteria include the students’ academic performance, the quantity and quality of history and history-related classes taken, the students’ interest in and aptitude for history (this can also be expressed beyond the academic classroom), and an example of historical scholarship.”  Each applicant must submit a transcript and a letter of interest as well as an example of historical scholarship. Irvington High School Social Studies teacher Chris Barry, Irvington Historical Society’s board member and college professor Neil Maher, and former Irvington High School principal and Society board member Scott Mosenthal serve as judges for the contest.

Miles’ paper is entitled “Isolationism: the Erosion of American Power”. He traces how American foreign policy has moved from an interventionist position starting with a series of engagements following WWII (the civil war in Greece, the Korean conflict, and the ultimate fall of the Berlin Wall) to one of isolationism (the withdrawals from Afghanistan and Iraq ). He concludes his paper by stating, “During the early 20th century, America largely acted as a protector for democracy in the world. . . .The falling of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union, however, marked a shift towards American Isolationism. Given this decrease in America’s intervention, authoritarian leaders have been able to abuse human rights and consolidate power.”

Ryan’s paper is entitled “Citizen and Enemy: U.S. Social & Political Attitudes Towards Japanese-Americans Following the Attack on Pearl Harbor”. He states that the attack on Pearl Harbor was preceded and “influenced by racism and complacency on the homefront”, which led to “drastic racially motivated measures to clamp down on the rights and liberties of American citizens.” He uses as  evidence the internment centers established by the American government during WWII and the lingering effects of negative Japanese-American sentiment today in American society.

Two other students were awarded runner-up status and awarded memberships to the Irvington Historical Society.  James Oley’s essay is entitled “Booze, Guns, and Corruption: 1920s Organized Crime and the Rise of the American Gangster”; Jordyn Eckers’ essay is entitled  “Fueling the Fire: The Influence of the Media during the AIDS Crisis”.

Copies of the winning essays can be found HERE.