Press Release for Wednesday, March 30, 2011

UNF History Graduate Student Receives Prestigious Doctoral Scholarship

Joanna Norris, Associate Director 

Department of Public Relations 

(904) 620-2102 



Karen Cousins, a University of North Florida graduate student in the Department of History, is one of 10 individuals to receive a Connaught International Scholarship for Doctoral Students from the University of Toronto in Canada.  


This prestigious scholarship, which she will receive for five years, is designed to support outstanding international scholars to Canada’s premiere research university. A Mandarin resident, Cousins is studying colonial Latin American history at UNF and will receive her Master of Arts in History this summer with a projected 4.0 GPA. She received her bachelor’s degree in history from the University in 2009. 


 “Over the past 14 years, I have had the distinct privilege to teach some outstanding undergraduate and MA-level students at UNF, many of whom later entered prestigious doctoral programs. Karen Cousins ranks among the very best,” said Dr. Michael Francis, UNF history professor. “I am delighted that the University of Toronto awarded her the Connaught Scholarship, an honor that recognizes Karen’s remarkable achievements and her scholarly promise. It also confirms a view I have had for many years: UNF students are capable of competing with the very best students anywhere in the world.” 


Her research interests include issues of religious conversion, resistance and accommodation in Spanish America. Most of her work has focused on New Granada—modern Colombia—where she spent nine weeks last summer. In Bogota, she found archival documents about post-Christian contact indigenous idolatry, as well as documents regarding a 16th-century miracle and subsequent development of a Marian sect known as Our Lady of Chiquinquira. The Virgin of Chiquinquira is today the patroness of the Republic of Colombia. Cousins is interested in the intellectual, social and political implications of the evolution of this sect over time. 


“My years at UNF have been absolutely wonderful,” said Cousins. “I fervently hope that my experiences and successes will encourage others to continue to move forward in life, especially other women.” She is a non-traditional student, returning to college after raising a family and enjoying an administrative career in the Washington, D.C., business world. 


 While at UNF, she has received numerous awards, including the Graduate Writing Prize, Neil Gray Paper Prize and Outstanding Baccalaureate Graduate for 2009-2010. Her research paper, “Highland Lakes, Hidden Emeralds, and Santiago’s Bones: Local Religion in Colonial Colombia” received the 2010 William F. Coker Award for best paper by a graduate student and the Phi Alpha Theta Ben H. Procter Research Paper Award in Latin American History. Additionally, the paper was judged best among all 2010 Procter competition categories. 


Cousins is a member of the Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi and Phi Alpha Theta, Psi Eta chapter. She is the associate book review editor of “Ethnohistory,” a publication by the American Society for Ethnohistory, and is a UNF graduate teaching assistant in World History and Western Civilization to 1648.