2022-2023 Annual Awards


Irises in bloom in Manhattan, KS ~ early evening, April 2023

Our annual awards celebration was back in person for the first time since 2019, now that the height of the COVID pandemic has passed and we could gather with greater safety.

Rather than the sit-down banquet from the pre-COVID days, we opted for a less formal reception in the K-State Student Union which allowed for more conversation — and an earlier evening.


This evening also offered our first HyFlex awards celebration, as some faculty, students, families, and donors joined us online as we offered a live-stream of the presentation of awards. We’re grateful to all for celebrating with us, either in Union 227 or online.

We’ll have photos of our award presentations in the next week or so (with thanks in advance to David Mayes), but, for now, we offer below some virtual recognition to complement the applause and cheers of faculty, students, family, and friends offered face-to-face or in the Zoom chat.

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

Brink Memorial Essay Award: The Clark M. Brink Memorial Essay Award is given for student essays exhibiting “the highest degree of originality of composition and excellence in handling a topic treating or exemplifying the values of humanistic studies.” Katie Painter, “Racialized Religion and Gendered Genre: Harper’s Radical Activism Through Conventionality” (first place); Cosette O’Brien, “Genealogy of Red, White, and Black: Snow White Subversion Through Song” (second place).

Chappell Award: Natassja (Totty) Norwood and Cassidy Hartig

Conover Award: Stephen Antwi

  • “As the graduate award with the longest history in our department, the Conover recognizes superior academic performance, fine teaching, and real distinction as a graduate student. Faculty praised Stephen for his intelligence and the creativity of his thought. One said that he is ‘smart, thoughtful, a good researcher, and very creative’ while another called him ‘a serious scholar.'” (Cameron Leader-Picone, for the selection committee)

Davis Award: Milena (Mila) Beliso

  • “Earle Davis is one of the most famous members in the history of the K-State English Department. He was a longtime Head of the Department, the author of several books, and an excellent scholar of Victorian literature. This scholarship honors his memory and his example. Mila has been praised by her teachers for her exceptional comprehension and scholarly commitment. As one faculty member puts it, she is ‘smart, curious, thoughtful, an excellent writer, someone who pushes beyond the obvious and makes theories and topics of her own.’ Mila embodies the scholarly energy, the intellectual curiosity, hard work, and ambition that characterized Earle Davis’s work as well as the best academic work being done by our graduate students.” (Cameron Leader-Picone, for the selection committee)

Edwards Scholarship: Stephen Antwi and Jordan Dombroski

Glenn Scholarship: Delaney Sullivan

Hallam Walker Davis Award: Lucas (Luke) Cook

Johanning Scholarship: Delaney Sullivan

  • “The Jerome Johanning Memorial Scholarship is given in honor of Jerome Johanning, who was a graduate teaching assistant in our department from 1983-1985. To reflect Jerome’s love of teaching and writing, the scholarship is awarded to an outstanding graduate teaching assistant in the Department of English. The recipient is selected based upon academic performance, student evaluations, and a self-evaluation. Delaney is a very deserving recipient of the Jerome Johanning Scholarship.”  (Cameron Leader-Picone, for the selection committee)

Most Promising Undergraduate Student Award: Grace Odgers

Expository Writing Exemplary Teaching Award:  Tucker Newsome (GTA) and Pete Loganbill (GTA)

Lamb Scholarship: [Not awarded in 2023]

Lukens Scholarship: Allison Meerian

Bonnie A. Nelson Scholarship: Aidia Kite and Catherine Torkelson

Popkins Scholarship: Ademola Adefolami, Stephen Antwi, Lindsey Bergner, and Kinsley Searles

Brewster Rogerson Scholarship: Kaia Hayes

Seaton Awards: Evan Saltare

Undergraduate Leadership & Service Award: Abigail (Abi) Whitney

Writing Center Excellence Award: Ben Trickey

  • “The Writing Center staff is honored to present the Writing Center Excellence Award, which recognizes overall excellence in Writing Center work, to Ben Trickey for his remarkable work tutoring student writers, supporting his colleagues, and filling a leadership role by acting as the written feedback coordinator for the Spring 2023 term. Nominators noted that Ben is ‘committed to not only providing clients with the utmost care, but [he] actively works to better the writing center and tutors.’ One new staff member expressed what a good example Ben is in the Center for new tutors. Ben ‘creates a comfortable atmosphere and encourages tutees to grow in their writing skills. Ben has been passionate in his interactions with tutors and tutees alike.’ The whole staff is excited and inspired by Ben’s embodiment of Writing Center values and best practices: ‘He is welcoming, helpful, and always committed to his work.'” (Stacia Gray, for the selection committee)

Children’s Literature Graduate Essay Award: Stephen Antwi, “Champion of Both Worlds: The Half-Man, Half-Troll Representation as a Symbol of Collectivism in Guillermo del Toro’s Trollhunters

  • “Applying a sophisticated critical framework to a recent animated Netflix series, the winner of the Children’s Literature Graduate Essay Award considers how monsters destabilize racial and cultural norms, forging new collective identities.” (Phil Nel, for the selection committee)

Composition & Rhetoric Research Essay Award: Kinsley Searles, “Rebury, Repatriate, Reclaim: Rhetoric of the ‘Salina Burial Pit'”

  • “In her essay ‘Rebury, Repatriate, Reclaim: Rhetoric of the “Salina Burial Pit”‘ Kinsley Searles analyzes the settler colonial logics and rhetorical imperialism rampant in the horrifying act of turning an Indigenous burial ground into a tourist attraction. Ultimately, Searles argues that the closing of the site in response to Indigenous protest is an example of what Malea Powell (Miami) calls Indigenous survivance — a moment not only of survival, but of resistance.” (Abby Knoblauch, for the selection committee)

Cultural Studies Essay Award: Sarah Morgan, “Watching and Believing: The #MeToo Movement and Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window in Chloe Okuno’s Watcher (2022)”

  • “Sarah Morgan’s essay offers an insightful analysis of Chloe Okuno’s Watcher that considers how Laura Mulvey’s conceptualization of the male gaze is reworked in post #MeToo cinema. In the process, she offers a layered, insightful, and beautifully researched analysis of the ways film can argue powerfully for female agency and the life-and-death imperative to believe women.” (Michele Janette, for the selection committee)

Expository Writing Program Essay Award: Tyler Tiede, “Kroger-Albertsons Proposed Merger: How Should the Federal Trade Commission Rule?” (first place, written for Cindy Debes’s ENGL 200 class); Rachel Jeffers, “A Proposal for Presentations to Improve Health Literacy in Cameron County” (second place, written for Anne Longmuir’s ENGL 200 class)

Gordon Parks Essay Award: Luke Cook, “The View from Center Field.”

Graduate Creative Writing Award: Fiction: Tucker Newsome, “Ohio” (first place); Liana Martin, “The Roots” (second place)

  • “Ohio”: “From the fresh language to the intimate knowledge of both the fishing and restaurant worlds, I was fully immersed in this story and the characters’ situations, their humanity eking onto the page sentence by sentence, all their flaws and contradictions, and in the end, it’s these elements we hide about ourselves to keep from knowing, that we put up a wall of judgement around to keep from knowing others, that make us glorious. This world felt fully lived-in, full of humor and tender unknowing, about what happens in the moment we start questioning the stories we’ve been told, and our role in their continuation. There’s much potential in these pages.” (External judge’s comments)
  • “The Roots”: “An invigorating spark from the first sentences, a realness, an ability to get to the heart of things, between our desires and boundaries, and the roles our expectations burden the people in our lives. I could see clearly the bar, the singer in her clothes, Justine casting a discerning eye on every one around her, and being made to turn her own way in the end. I wish this writer much luck and perseverance to continue in the craft of words.” (External judge’s comments)

Graduate Creative Writing Award: Non-Fiction: Ademola Adefolami, “Blackness as a Metaphor for More than Darkness” (first place); Ben Trickey, “The Words I Choose” (second place) and Achilles Seastrom, “In the Land of Giants” (second place)

  • “Blackness as a Metaphor for More than Darkness”: “‘In this lambent, lyrical, and synecdochic essay, the part implies the whole, and the color black encapsulates the history of racism. Its collagelike array of fragments arranged according to bittersweet logic and narrated in a syncopated and epigrammatic style, is a philosophical yet poignantly personal meditation.” (External judge’s comments)
  • “The Words I Choose”: “I admire this essay’s somehow unexpected sense of joy.” (External judge’s comments)
  • “In the Land of Giants”: “This essay’s ambition and scope are impressive.” (External judge’s comments)

Graduate Creative Writing Award: Poetry: Liana Martin, “Confession” (first place); Adrien Sdao, “loop theory” (second place)

  •  “Confession “:”‘Confession’ moves like a mind, like a language ‘polluted / and degrading,’ like the body’s milk. This poem flows beyond itself. And this is not just style for style’s sake – the poem’s layering and fragmentation capture the deep complexity of family relations, labor, and inheritance. (Also, it’s super original – wonderful ‘after’ poem!).” (External judge’s comments)
  • “loop theory”: “‘loop theory’ microcosmically enacts the universal complexity it describes, zooming in and out, hashing together animal, family, molecule, spirit, mountain, matter, quantum movement – ‘all star / stuff / all particles / all waves / all leaping / grains’ – and of course the body. This poem is a system, a system of systems, about systems. So dang cool!” (External judge’s comments)

Graduate Critical Essay Award: Milena (Mila) Beliso, “Secular Nightmares: Mental Health, Bourgeois Values, and the Absence of God in Parker Finn’s Smile” (winner)

  • “This essay offers a complex, well-argued, and well-written analysis of Parker Finn’s horror film Smile that was so persuasive and fascinating it made one of the committee members, who will do anything to avoid a horror movie, really want to see this film! Demonstrating a sure knowledge and control over the rhetorical moves of an academic essay, the author examines the way a secular understanding of trauma and psychology replaces the traditional emphases on religious and spiritual dangers. In Mila’s analysis, the external demon at the center of most religious horror has been transformed into a psychological portrait of trauma that is anchored in the everyday world, transforming each of us into the cause of our own terror and undoing.” (Kimball Smith, for the selection committee)

Professional Writing Award: Zoe Grace, “Employee Engagement: What, Why, and How” (first place); Madeline Hoffman, “A Proposal to Restructure the Audit and Consulting Practices” (second place). External judge for 2022-2023: Dennis Cook, Director of Aggieville Business Association.

Technical and Scientific Writing Awards:  Dane Thompson, “Using Spherical Coordinates to Calculate Center GPS Coordinates of Center Pivot Sprinklers” (first place); Calvin Spellman, “New Types of Thermal Protection Materials” (second place). External judge for 2022-2023: Alistair Innes, Senior Consultant for Severn Trent.

Touchstone Creative Writing Awards: Fiction: Abi Whitney, “Metal Bones Break Too” (first place); Nichole Maryse, “Drop-Off Lane” (second place)

  • “Metal Bones Break Too“: “‘Metal Bones Break Too’ is the story of a caretaker robot determined to fulfill its function after the death of its maker. Themes of loss and grief and Abi Whitney’s deft examination of the ugliness and difficulty of the latter make the story resonant and its concerns tangible.” (Achilles Seastrom, for the selection committee)
  • “Drop-Off Lane”: “‘Drop-Off Lane’ is a story about a sleepover gone awry when one boy known for sleepwalking vanishes. His companions, reluctant to wake any parents, journey out after him. The strength of Nichole Maryse’s dialogue brings these characters to life and the relatable, engaging experience of kids venturing out on their own creates a compelling mystery. (Achilles Seastrom, for the selection committee)

Touchstone Creative Writing Awards: Poetry: Totty Norwood, “The First Born Daughter Explores Her Sense of Self” (first place); Abi Whitney, “first love” (second place)

  • “The First Born Daughter Explores Her Sense of Self”: “Totty Norwood’s poem ‘The First Born Daughter Explores Her Sense of Self’ sits in the space between mother and daughter, simultaneously vast and impossibly small. The audience is led through the process of trying to understand the self and into the vibrant imagery and release of the last stanza, where the self solidifies.” (Achilles Seastrom, for the selection committee)
  • “first love”: “‘first love’ is learning and living and growing and understanding that the sharp nostalgia of growing up can be both necessary and bittersweet. Abi Whitney’s gripping characterization will make you fall in love with a tree and her use of imagery will make you understand why it must change.” (Achilles Seastrom, for the selection committee)
Touchstone Creative Writing Awards: Nonfiction: Whitney Mills, “Answered Call” (first place); Dawn Tucker, “Non-Disclosure” (second place)
  • “Answered Call”: “Mill’s creative essay ‘Answered Call’ carries us through the young experience of first learning what we need and how to take care of ourselves. The harsh truths the narrator encounters along the way create a complex understanding of how every individual makes their own decisions and perceives their own needs.” (Achilles Seastrom, for the selection committee)
  • “Non-Disclosure”:  “Tucker’s essay employs a sharp wit to explore masculinity and control, written in the form of a non-disclosure agreement. The difficult questions this essay asks allows us space to examine structures and ideas we take for granted and may even lead readers to an entirely new view.” (Achilles Seastrom, for the selection committee)

Graduate Student Service Award: Sara Partin

  • “This year’s winner is known for her wide-ranging contributions in service to the department: as a volunteer for department-sponsored events and outreach; as a ready assistant for moving boxes, furniture, and books; as a representative for graduate students at the college and university levels; and as a leader among the graduate students, particularly for SAGE. In the words of one faculty nominator, she has offered ‘high profile, high impact, and high demand service, and she has represented us superlatively.’ Our thanks and congratulations to Sara Partin!” (Karin Westman, for the faculty)

SAGE Graduate Faculty Award for Distinguished Teaching: Greg Eiselein

SAGE Graduate Faculty Award for Distinguished Service: Dan Hoyt

Excellence Award for Term Instructor: TBA

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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