While most students will begin celebrating the weekend uptown on Friday, Miami University senior journalism and English literature major Oriana Pawlyk will be making a presentation alongside Associate Professor of Journalism Cheryl Heckler at the Cryptologic History Symposium, hosted by the National Security Council (NSC). The symposium will take place in a locked-down facility in the John Hopkins Center in Fort Meade, Md.
According to Heckler, this is the first time that a Miami undergraduate has been invited to speak to an audience of this level regarding national security. The NSC advises the president on national security and foreign policies. The council is chaired by the President and notable regular attendees include the Vice President, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Defense and the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs. Pawlyk will be meeting with the Director of National Security over lunch on Wednesday. The professor-student duo will be presenting their examination of the 1876 presidential election between Rutherford Hayes and Samuel Tilden, specifically focusing on the code-breaking done by Miami’s own Whitelaw Reid (class of 1856), then owner of the New York Tribune, which uncovered attempts by the Democratic National Party to steal the election via the bribery of states.
Pawlyk and Heckler have spent several months conducting the research that went into their presentation for the symposium and recently practiced their presentation in front of cadets from Miami’s Naval Reserve Officers’ Training Corps.
“I began researching this in the summer when I started as Cheryl’s research assistant,” Pawlyk said.
Of the 20 minute presentation on the topic of “Cryptology in War and Peace: Crisis Points in History,” Heckler will introduce the topic with a five minute briefing and Pawlyk will follow with her research findings regarding Thomas Nast’s contributions to the public’s perception of the presidential race.
Nast was an editorial cartoonist, most known for his creation of Santa Claus and Uncle Sam, and the famous political symbols of the Republican elephant and the Democratic donkey.
A slide in Heckler and Pawlyk’s PowerPoint presentation quotes Hayes as saying, “[Nast] was the most powerful single-handed aid we had.”
Pawlyk’s research uncovered the extent to which Nast’s cartoons mocked Tilden and the Democrats’ actions in his cartoon series depicting Tilden as a mummy.
Heckler is very complimentary of her colleague.
“[Pawlyk] was always two steps ahead of me in the research,” she said.
Pawlyk hopes to work for a government agency after graduation.
Pawlyk is an editorial columnist for The Miami Student.