History scholar and 2023 WSU graduate Alicia Callahan’s Honors College thesis about the heroic efforts of World War II soldiers has drawn national attention, earning her a summer speaking engagement in Washington, D.C., and a trip to Normandy, France.

Callahan, who was honored as this year’s Department of History Outstanding Senior, will present her thesis about the U.S. Army’s heroic 6th Armored Division’s service at the Friends of the National World War II Memorial’s annual teachers conference in July. She is one of eight presenters selected to speak at the conference and the only presenter not already working in academia or a similar field. Her presentation will occur at the Military Women’s Memorial.

Callahan’s undergraduate research efforts also gained the attention of the Best Defense Foundation, a non-profit organization created in 2018 to honor and commemorate veterans, often returning them to battlefield sites. She has been invited by the foundation to join military veterans who survived the D-Day invasion in 1944 for a special week-long trip to Normandy, to mark the invasion’s 79th anniversary.

“It’s exciting. I’m honored,” said Callahan, who is from the rural central Washington community of Royal City and whose own great-grandfather fought in World War II. “I know it’s going to be emotional. Hearing their stories is going to bring me to tears.”

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