English department announces 2022 student awards

We’re excited to announce our 2022 scholarship and senior award winners, as well as the winners of our 2022 writing contest.

It’s been an especially challenging couple of years, so the perseverance of these students—maintaining a love for learning even in difficult circumstances—has been a great example to the departmental faculty.

2022 Scholarship awards

Scholarships for the 2022-23 academic year have been awarded to the following students.

Bonnie C. Henzel Scholarship

Joseph Morgan

Rita K. Gollin Scholarship for Excellence in American Literature

Jessica Marinaro and Sarah Sharples

Jesse M. Rodgers Memorial Scholarship

Elizabeth Roos

Natalie Selser Freed Memorial Scholarship

Isaac Schiller

Hans Gottschalk Memorial Scholarship

Nevaeh Tucker

2022 Senior awards

Senior awards honor graduating students on the basis of input from departmental faculty, and making these decisions is always difficult. The following students are recognized for their exceptional achievements.

Calvin Israel Award for an outstanding academic record and strong support of the Humanities

Sophie Schapiro and Olivia Clare Schmidt

William T. Beauchamp Memorial Award for outstanding service to the vitality of literature on campus

Amina E. Diakite, Cassandra Pepe, and Georgia Katharine Ludwig VanDerwater

Patricia Conrad Lindsay Memorial Award for excellence in scholastic achievement and intellectual promise

Juliet Rose Wenzel

Joseph O’Brien Memorial Award for a demonstrated record of academic excellence and a spirit of volunteerism

Jose Romero and Hannah Sullivan

2022 Writing contest winners

Irene E. Smith Award in First-Year Critical Writing: INTD 105

Wyatt Hargrove, “Why Hemingway Is Relevant”

Honorable Mention: Iliana Papadopoulos, “I CAN. I WILL”

Jérome de Romanet de Beaune Award for an Essay in Diversity Studies

  1. Matt Keller, “A Not so ‘Swift’ Fix: Gulliver’s Travels Destabilizes the Fiction of Supremacist Standardized Language”
  2. Elizabeth Roos, “The Publishing of African Women’s Literature”
  3. Shawna Smith, “Review Essay: Aromantic /Asexual Representation in Media”

Research Paper

  1. Madyson Gillanders, “Shockwaves: America through the Eyes of a Non-American Black”
  2. Alissa Moeller, “The ‘Ugly Truth’ in A Burial at Ornans

Honorable Mention: Kathryn Sirianni, “Teaching Our Children the America We Never Knew”

John H. Parry Award for a Critical Essay

Joseph Morgan, “Emotional Hyperbole in Aphra Behn’s The History of the Nun

Honorable Mention: Lauren Silverman, “Rape of the Lock and the Language of Rape Culture”

Self-Reflective Writing

  1. Patricia Figueroa, “The Game of Life: The American Dream House”
  2. Thalia Maynor, “Why She Talking Like That? Beauty and Brilliance in Black Language”

Creative Non-Fiction

  1. Joseph Morgan, “Fathers and Sons”
  2. Mollie McMullan, “Complications of Motherhood”
  3. Jason Ray, “Records”

Agnes Rigney Award in Drama and Screenwriting

  1. Patricia Figueroa, Don’t Go (Breaking My Heart)
  2. Anna Lynch and Susan Romance, Korea’s Sweetheart

Honorable Mention: Erika Powers, [title?]

Lucy Harmon Award in Literary Fiction

  1. Hannah Lustyik, “Have You Ever Told Anyone You’re Rotting Inside?”
  2. Matt Keller, “A Submission”
  3. Alison DiCesare, “The Quiet Ones”

Mary Thomas Award in Poetry

  1. Jenna Murray, “she is not ready to tell me he is dead”
  2. Kayla Eyler, “I’m old, I’m so fucking old”
  3. Susan Romance, “Birth of Venus”

Roos and Burgio earn national recognition from Sigma Tau Delta

Elizabeth Roos and Carly Burgio received national recognition for their work at April’s annual convention of the English honor society, Sigma Tau Delta. Both junior English majors were selected for their awards from more than four hundred presenters at the Atlanta, Georgia event, where SUNY Geneseo was represented by six competitively selected students.

Carly, who studies English literature and adolescent education, received an honorable mention for the Beth DeMeo Poetry Award, presented for excellence in convention presentations for critical work on poetry or a poet. Carly’s paper, “Redefining the Image of Emily Dickinson,” examines the correspondence between Dickinson and her long-time friend and sister-in-law Susan Huntington Gilbert Dickinson, exploring how these letters support a new framework of queerness through which to study the Dickinsonian canon. Through a queer theory lens, Carly’s paper delves into the complexities of Dickinson’s personal life, the impact of editors on the literary canon, and the theme of expanding the canon to become a more inclusive space.

Elizabeth is on the creative writing track of the English major, with minors in film studies and medieval studies. She took second place in the Isabel Sparks President’s Award for Original Prose with her literary fiction “Hen Feathers.” The short story follows Leah, a young woman who lives with her husband Mitch and her three chickens: Charlotte, Gertrude, and Bernadette. When Leah finds Bernadette dead one morning, killed by a fox, she is forced to readdress how far she and Mitch have come since beginning their relationship in college, and whether her dreams for their relationship have remained the same over time. Elizabeth structures a smaller, tangible conflict to suggest a much larger, intangible conflict—in this case, the death of a beloved chicken reveals tension within a relationship.

The English department congratulates Carly and Liz on these national awards and we celebrate the hard work and thoughtfulness that went into both pieces!

All members of Sigma Tau Delta at Geneseo are invited to submit to the annual convention; next year’s will be held in Denver, Colorado.

English department inducts 2022 Sigma Tau Delta students in person

On April 14th, thirty-nine students were inducted into Sigma Tau Delta’s Iota Lambda chapter of the English Honor Society at Geneseo. It was the first in-person induction hosted in three years, since the start of the pandemic, and there was an additional Zoom livestream for those who could not attend, or to enable family and friends to watch.

Current President Georgia VanDerwater welcomed the inductees before incoming President Hannah Lustyik introduced the ceremony’s keynote speaker, English and Black Studies professor, poet, and translator Dr. Lytton Smith. Taking a little time off from organizing GREAT Day, Dr. Smith gave heartwarming comments linking acclaimed YA series Wings of Fire to forming a community through shared experiences that unite us across differences. Students and faculty alike have faced adversities throughout and beyond the COVID-19 pandemic: through hardships we often find ourselves drifting apart from one another, but Dr. Smith’s speech reminded us how we can come together as a community—of students, scholars, and educators—to support and uplift one another. His message resonates particularly with Sigma Tau Delta’s mission of creating a friendly and inclusive literary community on campus.

In the annual business section of the meeting, the e-board members described their positions and their collective efforts this past year. Georgia spoke of Sigma Tau Delta’s continued efforts towards diversity and outreach, including this year’s lecture series on the topic of “Exploring Black Voices in Contemporary Media”; Public Relations Chair Rebecca Perry followed up by announcing the final lecture in the series, which will be delivered by Dr. Beth McCoy on April 20th in the Harding Lounge under the title “Yes, and Joy: Black Improv.” Rebecca also mentioned the many panels at GREAT Day that will feature English students and faculty, and reiterated the honor society’s commitment to being a hub for advertising all English-related activities. Grace Lawrence talked about her work as Treasurer, which included collecting dues and donations, marketing and organizing the English department’s new merch, and selling honors cords. The Academic Co-Chairs Isaac Schiller and Elizabeth Roos wished the new inductees well and promoted the recent annual Sigma Tau Delta Convention, which was held in person for the first time since 2019 in Atlanta, Georgia, and will take place in Denver, Colorado in 2023. Matthew Keller, who was inducted in this year’s ceremony, discussed his recent experience as the Community Service Chair and the ease of joining the e-board at the same time as joining the society; along with his efforts to facilitate an English community via Discord, he also endorsed our involvement with The Arc’s membership drive, which supports people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Finally, Hannah extolled the friendship and fellowship forged by the e-board, encouraging new inductees to apply for the positions, as everyone is welcome to participate in society affairs and events.

To officially induct our new members, Dr. Gillian Paku, Sigma Tau Delta’s advisor, explained the history and goals of the organization in the context of SUNY Geneseo, noting that 2022 is Iota Lambda chapter’s 50th birthday and that Geneseo has a particularly strong and active community. She praised this year’s e-board and members for “building back better” after so many projects were stalled by the pandemic, and ended the ceremony with a call-and-response of Sigma Tau Delta’s pledge. Certificates, refreshments, and congratulations went out to the new members listed below: we welcome them and look forward to working together.

  • Sarah Bryk
  • Jesper Chitsaz
  • Francheska Colon
  • Danielle Crowley
  • Bridget Cunningham
  • Hannah D’Accurzio
  • Margaret Doty
  • Marlee Fancett
  • Nina Fichera
  • Julia Grunes
  • Travis Johnson
  • Hayley Kahnis
  • Jillian Kavanaugh
  • Matthew Keller
  • Ashley Kupiec
  • Griffen LaBianca
  • Kathleen McCarey
  • Emily McIntosh
  • Samantha Miller
  • Joseph Morgan
  • Diana Morley
  • Jenna Murray
  • Amanda Neri
  • Laryssa Olsen
  • Ella Pearcy
  • Elliot Pecora
  • Sarah Pleines
  • Kya Primm
  • Natalie Putnam
  • Susan Romance
  • Kerstyn Sage
  • Sarah Sharples
  • Casey Sherman
  • McKinley Skala
  • Jordie Slobodow
  • Hannah Smith
  • Bryanna Spaulding
  • Madelyn Tavernier
  • Ben Timmons
  • Cassandra Walters
  • Mandy Xiang

Sigma Tau Delta students present their work in Atlanta

On Wednesday, March 30, six Geneseo English majors departed for the 2022 International Sigma Tau Delta Convention held in Atlanta, Georgia. This convention, unlike last year’s, was held in person, allowing for a variety of roundtable and panel events. Carly Burgio, Matthew Keller, Hannah Lustyik, Elizabeth Roos, Isaac Schiller, and Georgia VanDerwater all presented works both creative and analytical throughout the three days of the convention.

On the first day, Isaac presented his paper on “Dante’s Domestic Responsibility as a Holy Mission,” and Hannah read her poetry collection “Burn & Breathe & Bleed.” On the second day, Georgia presented her thoughtful piece titled “African Diaspora: Generations of Loss and Love,” Carly presented her “Redefining the Image of Emily Dickinson,” and Matthew presented his argument on “Assimilation Through the Eyes of Gulliver.” On the third and final day, Elizabeth read from her prose piece titled “Hen Feathers.” Many of the attending students acted as chairs for the other panels, introducing the presenters and facilitating the Q&A portion, while chapter advisor Dr. Gillian Paku served not only as the esteemed trip leader but also as the moderator on many panels.

Geneseo student presenting a paper at STD conference
Georgia VanDerwater presents her paper at the Sheraton Atlanta Hotel

The students had the pleasure of hearing keynote speakers Richard Blanco, inaugural poet for former President Barack Obama, and Nic Stone, author of Dear Martin, a novel set in Atlanta that features a protagonist trying to make sense of contemporary racial injustice by corresponding with Martin Luther King, Jr. The students then visited the nearby Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park. It was not only a wonderful time for the attending students to spend getting to know each other and listening to peers from all over the country, but also to enjoy some of Atlanta’s attractions, food, and weather 40° warmer than in Geneseo!

This opportunity is available annually to all members of Sigma Tau Delta, and acceptance is competitive. The cost of travel, accommodation, and attendance is typically offset by the English Department and an undergraduate travel and research grant from the college. Next year’s convention location is Denver, Colorado; look for advertising and deadlines in September and October, 2022.

Geneseo’s Sigma Tau Delta chapter is active all year; new members are inducted each spring (on April 14 in 2022), and most activities are open to all members and friends of Geneseo English. For further information about Sigma Tau Delta at Geneseo, please contact the incoming student president, Hannah Lustyik, or the faculty sponsor, Dr. Gillian Paku.

Group portrait of Geneseo students in Atlanta
The whole group in Centennial Olympic Park, Atlanta

Photos: Gillian Paku

Kennison Earns UUP’s Highest Honor

Headshot of Wes Kennison
Wes Kennison
Wes Kennison ’79, faculty fellow for international programs, was recently awarded the Nina Mitchell Award for Distinguished Service by United University Professions (UUP), the nation’s largest higher education union. It is the union’s highest honor.

Kennison received the award at the UUP Fall Delegate Assembly on Friday, Oct. 15.

UUP President Fred Kowal says that Kennison has consistently demonstrated consensus building, connecting different groups within the union to achieve contracts that represent everyone.

Kennison, whose several roles at Geneseo also include faculty fellow for the Office of International Programs, has been active in UUP for more than 25 years. The UUP publication The Voice noted Kennison’s involvement in the 2000 Negotiations Committee, serving as a representative for part-time faculty and staff and helping to secure them health insurance benefits. He continued to advocate for union members who are part-time as part of the UUP executive board and has been active in community service, including serving two terms as Geneseo town supervisor and chairing both Catholic Charities of Livingston County and SUNY Geneseo’s InterFaith Center.

English Honor Society, Sigma Tau Delta, Inducts 83 New Members

On April 21, Geneseo’s Iota Lambda chapter of the English Honor Society, Sigma Tau Delta, inducted eighty-three new members. The half-hour ceremony highlighted accessibility and inclusivity, emphasizing that the honor society serves the entire English Department. Outgoing executive board president Nicole Callahan spoke to the chapter’s increased outreach efforts this year, including offering one-on-one connections to all new students in the department and significantly increasing our social media presence to help people feel connected and to get involved (see https://www.geneseo.edu/english/sigma-tau-delta).

Isabella Higgins discussed Sigma Tau Delta’s support for diversifying the Humanities curriculum, which included a petition recording student support for broadening and breaking from Geneseo’s menu of readings as well as a roundtable presentation at the annual convention where we shared local initiatives and solicited feedback from across the nation. More broadly, Sigma Tau Delta also endorses the Concerned Students Coalition’s List of Demands that would support BIPOC and traditionally underrepresented students on campus (https://speaks.geneseo.edu/?p=155). Beyond campus, our service project this year is to help The Arc of Livingston-Wyoming gather signatures of support for an inclusive community, as Jordyn Costello explained. People living with intellectual and developmental disabilities aare another group that has been disproportionately affected by the pandemic (https://tinyurl.com/yx79rr6z).

Professor Kristen Gentry spoke to this historical moment in a powerful, lyrical address, noting the induction as one of those small celebrations that, quoting Prince, help get us through this thing called Life. April 21 was the fifth anniversary of Prince’s death, a shocking loss that Professor Gentry connected to our traumatic past year of pandemic, racial tension, Black death at the hands of police, and mass shootings across the nation. Words, suggested Professor Gentry, are our solace and strength. Prince called life an “electric word,” and Professor Gentry added that “All words are electric. The words we write have the power to change lives. The way we interpret them has the power to change history. The words we speak have the power to manifest into reality. … Use electric words to make the world a better place than it was before you spoke, wrote, or read them.”

The induction closed with incoming president Georgia VanDerwater asking interested students to volunteer for next year’s e-board (contact Georgia at gv3@geneseo.edu) and with faculty sponsor Dr. Gillian Paku leading the pledge and remarking how the society has rallied in this difficult year around the STD motto: sincerity in our hopes for inclusivity and some necessary truth-speaking, alongside the craft and design of our creative and analytical work. We welcome the following students to the society and look forward to celebrating our chapter’s fiftieth anniversary in 2022:

2020

William Anderson

Jessica Apthorpe

Hannah Bentivegna

Claire Corbeaux

Jordyn Costello

Jenna Doolan

Kayleigh Eames

Kayla Eyler

Michaelena Ferraro

Daniel Fleischman

Melisha Gatlin

Aliyha Gill

Devin Gordon

Mackenzie Griffin

Valeria Guarneros

Jamie Henshaw

Walter Hoag

Sarah Holsberg

Hayley Jones

Kayla Kenny

Fatima Khanam

Anthony Lyon

Courtney Lyon

Emma Mandella

Emma Marino

Rachel McLauchlin

Kaitlyn McNulty

Rosalinda Mesbahi

Ben Michalak

Kyle Navratil

Richard Noel

Dong Won Oh

Kaitlyn Papaccio

Domenica Piccoli

Emma Raupp

Sophie Schapiro

Nickolas Schuessler

Emma Short

Hannah Sullivan

Emily Tsoi

Lyndsay Tudman

Georgia VanDerwater

Stephanie Wall

Rebecca Williamson

Emily Zandy

2021

Sarah Barber

Carly Burgio

Bridget Cain

Kathryn Capone

Elizabeth Costanzo

Caroline Crimmins

Hailey Cullen

Katelyn Daniels

Amina Diakite

Alison DiCesare

Susanna Dolan

Tess Duignan

Marin Goodstein

Kat Johnson

Zack Laird

Grace Lawrence

Macaire Lisicki

Cameron Luquer

Hannah Lustyik

Emma Meeks

Maeve Morley

Ethan Owens

Megan Palmer

Maria Papas

Maria Pawlak

Cassandra Pepe

Rebecca Perry

Samantha Phillips

Kevin Reed

Jose Romero

Elizabeth Roos

Olivia Root

Leila Sassouni

Isaac Schiller

Peter-Joseph Sharak

Lauren Silverman

Juliet Wenzel

Samuel Wright

English Department students present at Sigma Tau Delta International Convention

On Saturday, March 27, five members of the Geneseo chapter of [Sigma Tau Delta](https://www.english.org/) participated in [the annual convention(https://englishconvention.org/2021/) available to all members of the English honor society. Nicole Callahan, Jordyn Costello, Sara Devoe, Isabella Higgins, and Emma Mandella presented a panel titled “Change it Up: Diversifying Humanities” over Zoom. Their presentation discussed the overt lack of representation in most canonical works considered to be a part of the “great books’’ tradition, a list that Geneseo Humanities I and II courses are required to follow. They touched on efforts – including their recent, popular student petition – to alter the Humanities requirement at Geneseo, with the goal of making it a course that includes perspectives and representation of groups outside of the predominant white male norm. Black Humanities was presented as one innovative approach, and the panelists suggested other texts or productive pairings of texts that would meet the goal. A lively question and answer session held after the presentation was attended by students and faculty from around the country and was an illuminating conversation about the benefits and challenges of these efforts, and how they are addressed at our peer institutions. The panelists and audience members agreed that more than finding one answer to this complicated issue, diversifying Humanities requirements should be addressed through a variety of methods.

The format of roundtables only, coordinated via Zoom from Colorado, was a function of the COVID-19 pandemic. It worked surprisingly well, but we look forward to a return to an in-person convention in next year’s location, Atlanta, GA. Geneseo’s Sigma Tau Delta chapter is active all year; new members are inducted each spring, but most activities are open to all members and friends of Geneseo English. For further information about [Sigma Tau Delta at Geneseo](https://www.geneseo.edu/english/sigma-tau-delta), please contact the incoming student president, Georgia VanDerwater, or the faculty sponsor, Dr. Paku.

English department students present at Sigma Tau Delta international convention

On Saturday, March 27, five members of the Geneseo chapter of Sigma Tau Delta participated in the annual convention available to all members of the English honor society. Nicole Callahan, Jordyn Costello, Sara Devoe, Isabella Higgins, and Emma Mandella presented a panel titled “Change it Up: Diversifying Humanities” over Zoom. Their presentation discussed the overt lack of representation in most canonical works considered to be a part of the “great books” tradition, a list that Geneseo Humanities I and II courses are required to follow. They touched on efforts — including their recent, popular student petition — to alter the Humanities requirement at Geneseo, with the goal of making it a course that includes perspectives and representation of groups outside of the predominant white male norm. Black Humanities was presented as one innovative approach, and the panelists suggested other texts or productive pairings of texts that would meet the goal. A lively question and answer session held after the presentation was attended by students and faculty from around the country and was an illuminating conversation about the benefits and challenges of these efforts, and how they are addressed at our peer institutions. The panelists and audience members agreed that more than finding one answer to this complicated issue, diversifying Humanities requirements should be addressed through a variety of methods.

The format of roundtables only, coordinated via Zoom from Colorado, was a function of the COVID-19 pandemic. It worked surprisingly well, but we look forward to a return to an in-person convention in next year’s location, Atlanta, GA. Geneseo’s Sigma Tau Delta chapter is active all year; new members are inducted each spring, but most activities are open to all members and friends of Geneseo English. For further information about Sigma Tau Delta at Geneseo, please contact the incoming student president, Georgia VanDerwater, or the faculty sponsor, Dr. Gillian Paku.

English major Ben Michalak Receives Geneseo Community Engagement Ambassadorship

Ben Michalak Receives Geneseo Community Engagement Ambassadorship

English major Ben Michalak ’21 was selected as one of six students to be awarded Geneseo Ambassadorships this year. His project will involve working with the Main Street Association of nearby Perry, NY to link that community’s history of the arts to present-day artists and economic development initiatives.

During the Fall 2020 semester, Michalak was a TA for Ken Cooper’s OpenValley course that worked with the village to develop an innovative history of the Perry Knitting Company. Besides his research, writing, and digital communications skills, Michalak’s work as marketing director for WGSU helped make this opportunity possible.

On Tuesday, Feb 16 Dr. Maria Lima to share her experience creating HUMN 222: Black Humanities

On Tuesday, February 16 Feb at 1 p.m., Prof. Maria Helena Lima (English & Black Studies) will share her experience creating the course HUMN 222: Black Humanities. HUMN 222  explores The New York Times “The 1619 Project” and takes on The Times challenge to reframe American history, to consider the possibility that the origin of this country can be traced to 1619, the year that marks the arrival of the first Africans (from the land that would become Angola) to the land that would become America in all its defining contradictions.