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Edison college student publishes paper on William Livingston

An Edison man who attends Kean University is one of two history honors students who have published a paper about founding father William Livingston on a Columbia University Libraries blog dedicated to the papers of John Jay.

Nicole Skalenko, of Freehold, and Victor Bretones, of Edison, who will be seniors in the fall, were also part of a group of history honors students who received the Undergraduate Research Award at the Humanities Education and Research Association (HERA) annual conference in Philadelphia earlier this year for their work on Livingston.

Their blog post, William Livingston: Eighteenth-Century Media and Propaganda, explores how Livingston, New Jersey’s first elected governor, used the power of the press, proclamations and propaganda to sway New Jerseyans to support independence, according to information provided by Kean University.

Bretones said the blog post was an added bonus after being recognized at the HERA conference.


“My first reaction to winning the HERA award was, ‘Wow, in my first academic presentation, I helped my university win and brought prestige to my university and to my state,’” Bretones said in the statement. “I never knew it would go this far. I am very proud of my colleagues and myself.”


Their research was part of the MakeHISTORY@Kean: William Livington’s World project, funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and launched in 2018 by Elizabeth Hyde, Ph.D., chair of the Department of History, and Jonathan Mercantini, Ph.D., acting dean of the College of Liberal Arts. The three-year project is designed to engage Kean’s undergraduates in original research around the theme of William Livingston and challenges them to explore how to bring history and the humanities to a larger public, according to the statement.


In addition to Skalenko and Bretones, the other honors history students recognized at the HERA conference are: William Corman, Christian Mills, Christopher Thoms-Bauer, and Elizabeth Thorsen. The research findings presented in their award-winning panel, William Livingston’s World: History, Humanities, and the Enlightenment in America, included analysis of Livingston’s literary output, his advocacy for education, and his Revolutionary War era propaganda in support of the patriot cause.


For Bretones, each new opportunity is another way to learn about history and himself.


“Everything I have done at Kean through the honors history program has confirmed for me that I have a love and passion for history that will never fade,” he said in the statement.

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