Centenary alumni win awards from North Louisiana Historical Association

SHREVEPORT, LA — Two recent Centenary alumni are among the winners announced recently in the North Louisiana Historical Association’s annual award competitions. Jessi Jordan and King Gray, both members of the class of 2020, won awards for research submitted to the W. Darrell Overdyke Undergraduate Competition.

The Overdyke competition is named in memory of former Centenary history professor W. Darrell Overdyke and recognizes outstanding undergraduate and graduate research papers exploring the history of North Louisiana. The winning papers are published as articles in the journal North Louisiana History.

Jordan won first place in the undergraduate division for her paper, “Jan Garber and His Orchestra: An ‘Idol’s’ Story of Adaptation in Popular Music.” Jordan, who earned a B.A. in history and minored in French at Centenary, combined her passion for history and her love of music in her exploration of Jan Garber, a nationally-known bandleader and “idol” of the airwaves in the swing era who lived much of his life in Shreveport. Using a large collection of primary documents in the Jan Garber papers at the Noel Memorial Library at Louisiana State University-Shreveport, Jordan argued that the key to Garber’s more than four decades of success was his willingness to adapt his musical style.

Gray took second place in the Overdyke Undergraduate Competition with his paper, “Friends from Across the Pacific: The Experiences of Japanese Students at Centenary College in the 1950s.” He completed his B.A. in history with a minor in political science in fall 2019 and is now teaching sixth grade in the Aldine Independent School District in Aldine, Texas.

Dr. Samuel Shepherd, professor emeritus of history at Centenary, served as advisor for both students’ research projects.

“Jessi and King wrote these research papers in our history senior seminar, fall semester 2019,” said Shepherd. “Both distinguished themselves with their enthusiastic, relentless, resourceful quests to gain the information necessary to tell special, little-known stories about North Louisiana. It was a joy to assist them and watch them bring their stories together.”


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