By Dru Walters and Jerri Whitner, Student Contributors
Dr. Rhonda Smith-Daugherty, Professor of History at Alice Lloyd College, has been blessed with multiple opportunities to travel outside of the United States. She’s been equally blessed on those occasions to have the opportunity to speak on a topic with which she is exceedingly passionate about, history. Her first speaking engagement out of the country was in 2014 when she traveled to Sandhurst, England where she presented an essay over the famous aviator Jacqueline Cochran and her work with British Air Transport Auxiliary at an International Conference on World War II Entitled “1944: Seventy Years On.” In October of 2014, Dr. Smith-Daugherty traveled to Paris, France to appear in a documentary about French aviator Jacqueline Auriol (1917-2000) and American aviator Jacqueline Cochran (1906-1980) titled “Super Sonic Women-Jacqueline Cochran/ Jacqueline Auriol”.
Most recently, during ALC’s Spring Break, Dr. Smith-Daugherty journeyed to Oxford, England for a three-day international roundtable conference held at the prestigious Oxford University from March 15-18th. The conference was entitled The Oxford Roundtable on Women and Education, and was conducted at Harris-Manchester College, one of the 138 colleges that make up Oxford University. Four countries were represented at the elite conference, only those who were invited could attend. Even though the invitation to speak at a conference in Oxford, England regarding her expertise in the field of women in aviation was unexpected Dr. Smith-Daugherty knew she could not let the opportunity pass.
Dr. Smith-Daugherty presented her work entitled Just Call us Pilots: Amelia Earhart, Jacqueline Cochran, and the Quest for Gender Equality in Aviation in which she discussed Earhart and Cochran’s friendship, the air races they competed in during the 1930s, and compared both women’s accomplishments. The topic is one Dr. Smith-Daugherty has vehemently studied throughout her career, even conducting her doctoral dissertation on the famous female aviator Jacqueline Cochran. She has studied Cochran’s papers, housed in the Eisenhower Presidential Library in Abilene, Kansas and published a biography on Cochran in 2012. Dr. Smith-Daugherty’s extensive research on Cochran has allowed her to be recognized as an international expert on aviation.
Although the conference demanded the majority of Dr. Smith-Daugherty’s time she did have a chance to do some sightseeing. On her last day in England, March 18th, Dr. Smith-Daugherty visited Stonehenge, a great stone structure in Wiltshire, England that is over 5,000 years old. Although Dr. Smith-Daugherty was not able to get as close to the structure as she had hoped, she still brought the experience back to her students, highly recommending the site to others.
Dr. Smith-Daugherty has allowed her international travels to help her better serve in her position as the American History Content Specialist, Social Studies Education advisor, and Pre-Law advisor at Alice Lloyd College. Her hard work and enthusiasm for history is evident to all who come in contact with her. Anthony Gonzales, a Senior History Major at ALC, says of Dr. Smith-Daugherty, “It’s been good to have someone with that kind of experience and knowledge leading the way in undergrad. I’ve been able to ask her pretty much anything and she always answers or clarifies in a way that makes the material less intimidating.”
Recently, Dr. Smith-Daugherty had yet another chance to share her knowledge on aviation at another conference in Jacksonville, Florida, the Society of Military Historians. During the days of March 30th– April 2nd she was able to present her paper entitled “Out of the Blue: America Aviators in World War One,” which discussed American aviators who entered the Great War before 1917.
Dr. Smith-Daugherty may have had an unconventional Spring Break followed by another important conference, but even though she was busy she found both experiences to be enjoyable and invaluable. Leading by example, Dr. Smith- Daugherty encourages her students to embrace every opportunity to discover and learn from others as well as share their knowledge and experience. Continuing in that endeavor Dr. Smith- Daugherty recently co-authored The Marines and Counterinsurgency: 1945 to the Present Volume II with her husband, famous military historian Dr. Leo J. Daugherty III. The book will be available in the Fall. Dr. Smith-Daugherty is currently conducting research on Kentucky pilots in World War I as well as mascots and symbols of World War I aviators.