Make The Connection

Normandy Scholars Program

September 17, 2018 – by Erin Ross ’20

Slater Sabo ’19 and Maddie Lancaster ’19 visit France to study major World War II invasion and battle sites as part of the Normandy Scholars Program. (Photo courtesy of Maddie Lancaster)

Ohio Wesleyan Students Travel to France for Hands-on Historical Experience

Name: Maddie Lancaster ’19
Major: History
Minor: Education
Hometown: Lake Tapps, Washington

Name: Slater Sabo ’19
Major: History
Minor: Politics and Government
Hometown: Gypsum, Colorado

Experience: Normandy Scholars Program

Lancaster and Sabo are among seven students across the country selected to participate in the Normandy Scholars Program sponsored by the National WWII Museum in New Orleans. As part of the program, the OWU students traveled to France, where they spent time in Normandy visiting and studying major invasion and battle sites.

Lessons Learned 

Lancaster: “The trip was more focused on not only the American perspective of World War II, but also on the proceedings of the D-Day and the Normandy invasions. So, it only further expanded the knowledge and perspectives that I developed from Dr. (Mark) Gingerich’s Hitler and Nazi Germany class.

“On this trip, I was able to do teaching with a history professor from New Orleans. It was through this discussion that I realized I wanted to be a community college professor at some point – not just a high school history teacher. I am not sure if I would have this realization if it weren’t for the connections and discussions I made on this trip.

“Experiences like this matter because studying history in a textbook is much different than going to where these important events in history occurred and interacting with people who were alive during these events. …

“My favorite moment of the entire experience was when I got to meet, and have dinner with, a woman named Collette who was a member of the French Resistance during the German occupation of France. It was just a really special and surreal moment – meeting someone alive when all of this history happened. She is so brave and strong and it was an honor just to be in her presence.”

Sabo: “I heard about (the Normandy Scholars Program) when I was in New Orleans presenting my paper at the PAT (Phi Alpha Theta) Honors Society Conference and jumped at the opportunity to go overseas.

“Visiting Omaha Beach was very surreal because so much American blood was spilled there and because it’s such an important battlefield of WWII that’s been immortalized in films like ‘Saving Private Ryan.’ …

“History is better understood when you can walk the same ground as historical figures.” 

Why I Chose Ohio Wesleyan

Lancaster: “I was recruited to play lacrosse here. When I visited, I felt an immediate connection with both the coach and the team. I also interviewed for the Education Fellowship here at Ohio Wesleyan during my visit and fell in love with the way that OWU structures their history education program. I knew that I belonged here.” 

Sabo: “Serendipity.” 

My Plans After Graduation 

Lancaster: “My goal is either to enter grad school right away and get my master’s so I can teach history at the community college level or go into teaching high school history and work on getting my master’s until I can teach at the community college level. I also plan on coaching lacrosse at the high school level, too.” 

Sabo: “I learned that I might want to pursue a career in museum work. … Possibly grad school. Still figuring that out.”