2019-2020 Annual Awards

iris_mhk2_1may2020
Irises in bloom in Manhattan, KS  ~ early evening, 1 May 2020

This evening — Friday, May 1, 2020 — should have found us at the Alumni Center for dinner, conversation, and celebration.

We always look forward to recognizing our award winners at our Annual Awards Banquet. However, due to this year’s outbreak of Covid-19 and the university’s restrictions on events, we are not able to hold the banquet as planned.

We will miss the opportunity to present in person the awards below, with the applause and cheers of faculty, students, family, and friends. We offer here instead some virtual recognition, with a certificate and details about the award arriving to the recipients by mail.

(Information about the student awards below is available from our department’s web site.)

Brink Memorial Essay Award: Katie Buhler, “Justice for All? Quilting a Literary Analysis of A Wreath for Emmett Till” (first place); Dene Dryden, “How to Make Keltic Star Soda Bread” (second place)

Chappell Award: Skyler Lindquist and Alissa Rehmert

Conover Award: Adrianna Gordey

Davis Award: Katherine Dubke

Edwards Scholarship: Katherine Dubke, Amy Levin, and Winniebell Zong

Glenn Scholarship: Sydney Matheis

Hallam Walker Davis Award: Makaela Stevens

Johanning Scholarship: Natasha Muhametzyanova

Most Promising Undergraduate Student Award: Leah Hennes

Expository Writing Most Promising GTA Award: Adrianna Gordey and Natasha Muhametzyanova

Fountainhead Press Expository Writing Exemplary Teaching Award:  Cailey McCabe, Courtney Thompson, and Heather Varnadore

Lamb Scholarship: Lillian Brownlee

Lukens Scholarship: Lorna Hunt and Sara Partin

Popkins Scholarship: Katherine Dubke, Alyssa Freeman-Moser, Monica Kopenhaver, and Stacy Vars

Brewster Rogerson Scholarship: Cassandra Griffing and Randi Loyd

Seaton Awards: Sydney Matheis, Nicholas Sammartino, Mawi Sonna, and Winniebell Zong

Undergraduate Leadership & Service Award: Molly James

Writing Center Excellence Award: Molly James


Children’s Literature Graduate Essay Award: Molly Burt, “‘Leaving Her in Good Hands’: Place, Family, and Gender in The Lightning Thief Illustrated Edition”

  • “It’s a beautifully written essay, supported by sharp close-readings and apt critical theorists” (Phil Nel, for the selection committee)

Composition & Rhetoric Research Essay Award: Lynsey Akin, “Rural Repertoires and the Exoduster Legacy: A Case Study of the African American Vowel Shift in 20th Century Kansas”

  • “From its title to its Work Cited page, this paper represents a remarkable and well-developed inquiry into the ways that societal contexts such as racial segregation intersect with language change. Especially noteworthy were the essay’s complex and well-constructed methodology, combining both qualitative and quantitative elements, and the integration of historical and socioeconomic research with primary linguistic research. Indeed, the project reads more like a contribution to an academic journal than an example of classroom work” (Kara Northway, for the selection committee)

Cultural Studies Essay Award: Dustin Vann, “‘Sissy that walk!’: RuPaul’s Drag Race and the Mainstreaming of Drag Culture in Children’s/Young Adult Literature”

Expository Writing Program Essay Award: Lilli Heinen, “A Proposal for a Peer Mentorship Program for Small-Town Freshmen” (first place, written for Monica Kopenhaver’s ENGL 200 class); Hannah Schneider, “Strength and Impact of Community Factors on Graduate Students in the Kansas State University Master of Accountancy Program” (second place, written for Mawi Sonna’s ENGL 100 class)

Graduate Creative Writing Award: Fiction: Nick Cady, “Son of the Devil”(first place);  Winniebell Zong, “Everyone Must Watch” (second place)

  • Cady’s story “immerses the reader in lyrical language from the opening pages. But the language in ‘Son of the Devil’ has consequence and is not mere flamboyance. […] The best short stories take readers on a journey and leave you wanting more without greedily marching on. ‘Son of the Devil’ takes you on that journey.” (External judge’s comments)
  • “‘Everyone Must Watch’ is a touching tale of friendship between two children in North Korea. […] Stories of authoritarian societies can become lurid in their depiction of suffering, and succumb to their own sort of proselytizing. But the best such stories remind us the value of human rights — that we, as a people, have agreed that everyone on the planet is deserving of dignity. ‘Everyone Must Watch’ is a reminder of that covenant, revealed slowly through pain and devotion to others.” (External judge’s comments)

Graduate Creative Writing Award: Non-Fiction: Megan Saunders, “Ink and Prayer”(first place); Laura Ward, “Disobedience and the Fruit” (second place)

  • Saunders’ essay “taught me so much about writing the family. Its author deftly handles the range of emotions integral to every family story — humor, alarm, tenderness, and anger — with authorial precision and empathetic care, ultimately yielding a unique picture of one loving, complicated history” (External judge’s comments)
  • “Nothing serves my soul so well as an essay that’s full of surprises! In weaving a book-by-book retelling of Paradise Lost with the history of the global coffee trade, I never knew where [Ward’s] essay was taking me, but was fascinated by the mind that made all these twists and turns available to me as a reader.” (External judge’s comments)

Graduate Creative Writing Award: Poetry: Winniebell Zong, “‘Ma Let Me Tell You’ & Other Poems” (first place)

  • “This small group of poems opens with ‘Ma, Let Me Tell You / Your Story,’ an arresting and contrarian title that flows immediately into an intimately vivid depiction of the mother […] While the speaker has claimed the rights to her mother’s story, the sensitivity with which she tells that story belies a striking intimacy and love. It’s a balancing act that requires quick, flexible footwork, the work of a dancer, and this poet obliges, able to move deftly between the two poles of intimacy and distance that frame this particular poem. […] It is clear these poems come from a storyteller of great sensitivity and power, and there is no doubt we will be following this voice in poetry in the years ahead.” (External judge’s comments)

Graduate Critical Essay Award: Krista Danielson, “From Mariner to Mutineer to Merchant: Frederick Hale in Gaskell’s North and South

  • “In her historically nuanced essay, […] Krista Danielson focuses on the minor character Frederick Hale in Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South (1854) to cleverly connect the novel’s focus on England’s industrial north with questions of global trade and empire, abysmal living conditions of sailors, political rivalry with Spain, and unchecked power imbalances at large. Bringing a wider world to Gaskell’s Victorian social realities, Danielson demonstrates the power of carefully crafted close readings and the ubiquitous presence of diversity, class differences, and hybridity as issues in English Literature” (Wendy Matlock, for the selection committee)

Professional Writing Award: Sierra Graham, “Flying ~G~ Leather Co., LLC Business Expansion Proposal” (first place)

Technical and Scientific Writing Awards: Ethan George, “Feasibility Study of the Implementation of Hybrid Electric Drivetrains in John Deere 8R Tractors” (first place), Angie Mitchell, “Feasibility Study of Enhancing Biking Infrastructure in McPherson, Kansas” (second place)

Touchstone Awards: Erin Smee (fiction); Dene Dryden (creative nonfiction); Dene Dryden (first place, poetry) and Rowan Taylor (second place, poetry)

Graduate Student Service Award: Katie Cline

  • “This year’s winner is known for her professionalism, passion, and creativity; for her commitment to the mission of the department; and for her dedication to the well-being of the graduate student community. Our thanks and congratulations to Katie Cline!” (Karin Westman, for the faculty)

SAGE Graduate Faculty Award for Distinguished Teaching: Shirley Tung

  • “For this award, the graduate students cast their votes for instructors who they believed best curated an outstanding, innovative, and engaging classroom environment in the 2019-2020 school year. One special caveat that the graduate students considered for this year’s vote was which professor had best helped them through the post-spring break online transitional period. Congratulations to Shirley and best wishes in her continued teaching successes!” (Katie Cline and Nick Cady, President and Vice President 2019-2020, for the membership of SAGE)

SAGE Graduate Faculty Award for Distinguished Service: Anne Phillips

  • “For this award, graduate students voted for faculty members who positively impacted their school year through helpful services outside of the classroom, including non-coursework-related conversations, as well as involvement in student activities and events. Congratulations to Anne and many thanks to her for her dedication to student success!” (Katie Cline and Nick Cady, President and Vice President 2019-2020, for the membership of SAGE)

English Dept Award: Excellence in Advising: TBA

English Dept Award: Excellence in Teaching: TBA

Donnelly Faculty Award: TBA

Our thanks to the faculty who assisted with selecting our awards, to our main office staff who helped assemble the certificates, and to the faculty and graduate students who contributed recognition for the award winners — and to all of the students and their families and friends who can celebrate their success!

Karin Westman, Department Head

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