Peru, Nebraska – Sarah Davis-Kovarik, a senior at Peru State College is a history major from Palmyra, Nebraska. She presented a research paper at the Northern Great Plains Conference in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, in September 2023. The paper was titled, “A Cry for Help: Pioneering the Fight Against Domestic Violence in Nebraska.” 

Davis-Kovarik initially authored the paper for an Introduction to Historical Methods class, which she took in Spring 2023 in preparation for her seminar course. Dr. Kathi Nehls, Associate Professor of History and Davis-Kovarik’s Advisor encouraged applying to present her paper at the Northern Great Plains Conference. At the end of the spring semester, Davis-Kovarik sent her resume and an abstract summary for review to the conference committee. Before the fall semester, she was notified that she had been selected to present. 

“I was glad to go to another conference and get more experience presenting papers,” said Davis-Kovarik.

Davis-Kovarik previously presented a Japanese Constitution of 1889 paper titled “Inoue Kowashi: Architect of the Meiji Constitution” at the National Phi Alpha Theta biennial convention in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in January 2023. That was her first-ever experience of conference presentations. 

“I was nervous the first time I presented,” said Davis-Kovarik, “but I learned a lot from the experience which helped me when I presented again in South Dakota.” 

The paper Davis-Kovarik presented at the Northern Great Plains Conference evolved from her initial research of the federal Violence Against Women Act of 1994. Her study led her to the Protection from Domestic Abuse Act enacted by the Nebraska Legislature in 1978. The paper highlighted how the Nebraska Act, with its focus on helping domestic violence victims, preceded the federal act by sixteen years. 

According to Nehls, Davis-Kovarik's presentation went exceedingly well. “Sarah gave an excellent presentation, fielded questions well, and I was very proud of her work,” said Nehls. “Several professors approached her afterward and suggested she apply to their graduate programs.”

Davis-Kovarik enjoyed the conference, especially being one of the few undergraduates attending.

“It was a good experience, and everyone was kind,” said Davis-Kovarik. “There weren’t a lot of undergraduates there and most presentations were led by professors or independent scholars (those not attached to a college).”   

Davis-Kovarik is currently working on her senior paper about the Miami Riots of 1980. She hopes to present it at another conference in January 2024. 

Nestled in the hills of historic southeast Nebraska, Peru State College offers a mix of innovative online and traditional classroom undergraduate and graduate programs, including online graduate degrees in education and organizational management.

Established in 1867 as Nebraska’s first college, Peru State has transformed over the past century and a half into a state-of-the-art institution offering diverse, multifaceted educational programs annually to nearly 2,000 students.