By Amanda Richey, Staff Writer
While all Furman students have to write papers, few imagine that their writing will lead to presentations or will win awards at international honor society conventions. Last month during spring break, three Furman students presented original essays in fiction, rhetorical criticism and creative nonfiction at the annual Sigma Tau Delta convention, and two students took home awards in their genres.
This was the first English honor society convention that Cory Bailey, ’16, Erin Mellor, ’17 and Shannon Young, ’16 attended and their first time presenting original work to large crowds.
“It was just really fun. I hadn’t had this much fun at a conference before,” Young said. “It was really rewarding because we all did well, but it was just fun to be there and be with people who would like to have coffee and read books.”
According to Margaret Oakes, Ph.D., faculty advisor to Furman’s chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, all of the Furman students who submitted papers were invited to attend the convention in March.
The entry process from editing to acceptance in the convention lasted about two months. Both Mellor and Young submitted essays which they wrote for previous classes while Bailey wrote an original fiction piece explicitly for the convention. Guidance from professors was vital to the students’ success at the conference, from editing papers to practicing oral presentations.
“Dr. Oakes was really helpful in pushing me to submit a paper because I hadn’t planned on it otherwise,” Young said. “[And] in general, Dr. Hausmann has been one of the most helpful professors I’ve ever had [at Furman].”
Young won first place in Critical Essays: Education, Linguistics, Rhetoric, Young Adult Literature, Popular Culture, and Film Studies for “Postmemory in Alison Bechdel’s ‘Fun Home’,” which looks at effects and explanation of unobserved memory in a famous and polarizing graphic novel.
Mellor won an honorable mention in Creative Nonfiction for her submission about travel and living with a sister with mental illness, entitled “Why We Must Qualify Travel.”
“Dr. Tevis is my advisor. When I was writing this piece she gave so much constructive criticism and feedback and encouragement,” Mellor said. “She always said ‘write boldly, write bravely and write as if no one is reading it.’ That was really crucial and informative for my piece because it was so personal.”
More than 200 institutions were represented at the convention, and essay genres ranged from critical analysis to original poetry, even a category on the convention’s theme of “Finding Home.”
Bailey, Mellor and Young agree that attending the convention was a beneficial experience, and they encourage students within the honor society to submit papers and hopefully attend next year’s convention.
“On paper it looks and sounds really intimidating, but we as Furman students and in our chapter here are so prepared that I don’t think [future students] need to be worried,” Bailey said. “It was definitely the biggest highlight of my Furman career.