Jan. 5, 2004

Contact: Mary Jane Dunlap, University Relations, (785) 864-8853.

KU graduate wins $25,000 Rotary scholarship for graduate study in Africa

LAWRENCE -- A May 2003 University of Kansas graduate, Regan Buck Bardeen of Lawrence, has won a $25,000 Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship to study women's history in Africa next fall.

Buck Bardeen, who earned bachelor's degrees in women's history and in history at KU, plans to study the history of urban African women, specifically the role of urbanization in transforming gender roles, at the University of Ghana at Legon in August 2004.

Her interest in the history of African women evolved from a childhood love of history and from hearing her mother's stories of working as a nurse in Zaire.

"My mom spent a year in Zaire working as a nurse," Buck Bardeen said. "I always wanted to follow in my mom's footsteps by going there."

As a junior at KU, Buck Bardeen began to follow her mother's path to Africa. During spring 2002, she enrolled in an independent study project through KU's women's studies program and traveled to Ghana. There she lived with a host family in the capital city of Accra and volunteered with the Ark Foundation, a nongovernmental organization that assists battered women and children.

She wanted to return to Africa and if possible to Ghana, where the history department at the University of Ghana has a distinguished academic reputation and where she would have an opportunity to learn Twi through the university's Ghanaian language studies program.

"Women's history in Africa traditionally has been oral history and is a relatively new academic topic with historians," Buck Bardeen noted.

"I see the study of African history as essential to facilitating a growing understanding between countries, and as a way to find new solutions for the issues that currently face Africa," she said.

When she returns to the United States, Buck Bardeen plans to complete a doctorate in African history and teach at the university level. "As a scholar, I hope to advance our understanding of Africa and to encourage respect for its people."

The Rotary Foundation of Evanston, Ill., funds the scholarship to further understanding among people of different countries. While abroad, scholars serve as ambassadors of goodwill in the host country and give presentations about their homelands. Upon returning home, scholars share with local Rotarians and others the experiences that led to greater understanding of their host countries. Pat Roach Smith is the local Rotary host for Buck Bardeen.

At KU, Buck Bardeen was enrolled in KU's Honors Program, and her honors thesis in history on femininity in Nigerian market literature received an award for excellence from KU's history department. Market literature was written and produced in the Onitsha region of Nigeria in the 1960s by men. Their plays, stories and nonfiction advice pamphlets ran about 20 to 80 pages in length and were a creative form of popular culture.

She presented a portion of her thesis findings at an international academic conference at Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., in April 2003 and during the Mid-American African and African-American Studies Association conference at KU in fall 2003. KU's women's studies program also recognized her as a top senior in the program in spring 2003.

As a student, Buck Bardeen served as an advocate with the Women's Transitional Care Services, a domestic violence shelter. She volunteers with the youth ministry at Grace Evangelical Presbyterian Church, where she was responsible for organizing the church youth for an annual dinner theatre project that netted more than $2,000 for summer mission work. She also has worked as a paraprofessional for the Lawrence school district special education preschool.

In addition to her study abroad experience in Ghana, Buck Bardeen traveled to Eutin, Germany, during her senior year at Lawrence High School in summer 1998.

She is married to James Robert Amos Bardeen, May 2001 KU graduate in electrical engineering, and is the daughter of Charlie and Katie Buck of Lawrence. Buck Bardeen and her husband plan to travel to Africa together.

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