M.F.A. Student Wins Essay Award from the Children’s Literature Association

Amanda Becker, who is pursuing her Master of Fine Arts degree in children’s literature at Hollins, has been honored with a 2021 Graduate Essay Award by the Children’s Literature Association (ChLA).

A four-member committee of children’s literature scholars selected Becker’s essay, “A Story in Fragments: An Analysis of Poetry and Perspective in October Mourning,” as the winner of this year’s master’s level award.

The Graduate Student Essay Awards recognize outstanding papers written on the graduate level in the field of children’s literature. They are considered annually and awarded as warranted. In 2008, the ChLA Board approved giving two separate awards each year, one for an essay written at the master’s level and one for an essay written at the doctoral level.

“A Story in Fragments” focuses on Leslea Newman’s October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard, a novel in verse responding to the 1998 murder of Shepherd, a gay 21-year-old student at the University of Wyoming. “Written with love, anger, regret, and other profound emotions, this is a truly important book that deserves the widest readership, not only among independent readers but among students in a classroom setting, as well,” noted Booklist in its review. “Most importantly, the book will introduce Matthew Shepard to a generation too young to remember the tragic circumstances of his death. Grades 8-12.”

Of Becker’s essay, a judge stated, “One thing good scholarship does is strengthen its readers’ commitment to the literature it discusses: it prompts some to return to works they thought they knew and others to pick up those works for the first time. I think this is good scholarship. The analysis of the poetic effects of diverse perspectives…is sharply focused, sensitive to textual detail, and above all resists the temptation of reductive readings.” Another judge called it “original and interesting – not just related to interpretation of the specific text but also to the larger genre of poetry.”

Becker will receive a $400 award, a one-year complimentary ChLA membership, and an invitation to present her paper at the ChLA’s annual conference, which will be held virtually this year, June 9 – 13.

ChLA is a nonprofit association of scholars, critics, professors, students, librarians, teachers, and institutions dedicated to the academic study of literature for children.


Honors Convocation Spotlights Student and Faculty Excellence

 

Hollins recognized students for high academic achievement during the university’s annual Honors Convocation on May 4.

Held each spring since 1978, Honors Convocation also highlights those faculty members whose exceptional work and dedication have earned them special academic designation.

 

Student and faculty awards announced at this year’s Honors Convocation include:

DEPARTMENTAL AND DIVISION AWARDS
Alice Bull Biology Award
Shravani Chitineni ’21
Hanna Vance Schleupner ’21
Established in 1991 by students, alumnae, colleagues, and friends in honor of Professor Alice Bull, who taught biology at Hollins from 1964 until her retirement in 1990. The purpose of the award is to provide recognition to a deserving senior and/or junior student in biology.

American Chemical Society, Division of Analytical Chemistry, Undergraduate Award in Analytical Chemistry
Uyen Nguyen Thanh ’23
Given to encourage and to recognize students who display an aptitude for a career in this field. The award consists of an eight-month subscription to the journal Analytical Chemistry and an eight-month honorary membership in the Division of Analytical Chemistry.

American Institute of Chemists Award
Maria Ibrahim Jdid ’21
Presented to the outstanding senior chemistry major.

Andrew James Purdy Merit Scholarship in Creative Writing
Isabel May Houck ’21
In memory of Andrew James Purdy, a member of the Hollins English faculty from 1968 to 1977, this scholarship is given to a senior English major pursuing an honors project in short fiction or a related literary
genre.

Andrew James Purdy Prize for Short Fiction
Winner – Laura Schmitt M.F.A. ’22
Runner-up – Griffin Plaag M.F.A. ’22
In memory of Andrew James Purdy, a member of the Hollins English faculty from 1968 to 1977, this award is given to a graduate student in the creative writing program who has written a body of fiction of outstanding quality.

ARETE Award in Classical Studies
Elizabeth Lindsay Lauderdale ’22
Established in 2006, this award is sponsored by the Classical Association of the Middle, West, and South (CAMWS) and is given to the junior and/or senior student(s) who have completed outstanding work in the field of classics in the past year. The awardee receives a certificate, a subscription to Classical Journal, and a free membership in CAMWS for the following academic year.

CRC Press Chemistry Achievement Award
Tram “Amy” Nguyen ’24
Keegan Leigh Clark ’24
Given to an outstanding first-year or sophomore student with interest in pursuing a career in chemistry.

Daniel M. Murphy Prize for Spanish
Ivana Esther Martinez ’21
This award, named for Dan Murphy, professor of Spanish at Hollins from 1993 until his death in 2012, is presented to a student of Spanish who, following Professor Murphy’s example, exhibits on a daily basis a profound love of the Spanish language and a dedication to learning about and teaching others about Hispanic cultures and literatures.

David L. Longfellow History Prize
Nathalie Jean Fortier ’23
This prize, established in 1982 in honor of David L. Longfellow, former assistant professor of history at Hollins, is awarded to the outstanding first-year student in history.

Elise Deyerle Lewis Award
Akshita “Akshi” Agarwal ’22
The late Elise Deyerle Lewis, class of 1927, donated a silver cup to honor the student in the junior class showing the greatest promise in mathematics. The award is in memory of Isabel Hancock, class of 1927, who was Mrs. Lewis’ roommate at Hollins, and later an outstanding teacher of mathematics at Abbot Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. The name of the student chosen is engraved on the cup, which remains on display at the university.

Elizabeth Alexander Thomas Award
Sara Ann Ficke ’23
This award, in memory of Elizabeth Alexander Thomas, class of 1968, recognizes and rewards one or more rising sophomore, junior, or senior art history majors whose academic work in art history shows exceptional depth and promise and to provide support for the art history department. Awarded funds may be used by the recipient(s) for any expenses related to academic work in art history, including museum admission fees and travel to collections and galleries.

Elizabeth Kennedy Chance Award
Summer Yvonne Jaime ’22
Shuvechchha Kunwar ’22
Established by John K. Chance in memory of his mother, class of 1922, this award is given for excellence in economics.

Evelyn Bradshaw Award for Excellence
Irina Conc ’21
This award, established in 1997 and given in honor of former Horizon Program Director Evelyn Bradshaw ’88, recognizes an outstanding Horizon student who inspires others through her perseverance, positive attitude, pursuit of knowledge, and love of Hollins. The chosen student will have her name engraved on a plaque that will remain at the university.

F.J. McGuigan Psychology Awards for Excellence
Hinza Batool Malik ’21
Established in 1974, this award, consisting of books and a certificate, is presented for excellence in undergraduate and graduate education and research.

Frances Niederer Scholars
Art History:
Madison Elizabeth Harr ’22
Amy “Faith” Herrington ’22
Studio Art:
Victoria “Tori” Queenette An’Jannique Cobbs ’22
Maddie Alexandra Zanie ’22
An anonymous donor established a scholarship fund in 1983 to honor Frances J. Niederer, professor of art history at Hollins from 1942 until her retirement in 1980. The art department selects two outstanding art majors, at least one of whom is specializing in art history, as recipients in their senior year of the Frances Niederer Scholarships.

Freya Award
Angela “Andi” Brown ’21
Paige Arianna Russell ’21
Caylin Hathaway Smith ’21
The purpose of this award is to recognize a student who throughout her time at Hollins has remained dedicated and committed to her activities on campus in a way that provides a quiet yet vital force in our community. It is for someone who has never reached out for the spotlight and has not been recognized for her efforts formally, but has still continued to work humbly and diligently in what she does to positively affect our campus.

Gertrude Claytor Poetry Prize
Winner – Tyler Starks, MFA ’21
Runner-up – Madeleine “Maddie” Gallo, MFA ’21
Runner-up – Makenzie “Kenzie” Hampton ’22
This prize of the Academy of American Poets is given to a graduate or undergraduate student for the best poem or group of poems.

Goethe Award
Victoria Taylor Anderson ’24
This award, in recognition of special accomplishments in the study of German language and literature, is presented by the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany.

Herta Freitag Award in Mathematics
Sarah Elizabeth Hayashi ’21
The purpose of this award is to recognize an outstanding senior student in mathematics at Hollins who plans either to teach mathematics or pursue a career field related to mathematics.

Hollins Fiction Prize
Virginia “Ginny” Lee Lucey ’24
Established by Sally Durham Mason, class of 1959, in honor of Louis D. Rubin Jr., a member of the Hollins English faculty from 1957 to 1967. This award is given to an undergraduate student who has done outstanding work in the writing of fiction.

International Studies Award for Academic Excellence
Claire Michaela Hintz ’21
This award is given to a student for outstanding work in international studies during the academic year.

James Lewis Howe Award in Chemistry
Jaclyn “Elizabeth” Ward ’21
This award is sponsored by the Virginia Blue Ridge Section of the American Chemical Society and is given each year to the outstanding chemistry major from each of the 14 colleges or universities within the section’s boundaries.

Jane Lyell Stephens Ayers Scholarship
Jonea “Joey” Alexa Mathis ’21
Hannah Nicole Marcum ’22
Given in memory of Jane Stephens Ayres, class of 1961, by members of her family, colleagues, fellow students, and friends, this scholarship was established in 1986. It is awarded to a rising junior or senior who has shown special ability as a writer and serious interest in publications or journalism.

J.F. Maddox Foundation Award for Excellence in French
Savanna Virginia Huffman Sewell ’21
Awarded annually to a student who has demonstrated superior achievement in French.

Judith Gregory Smith Award
Winner – Nupur Sehgal ’23
Winner – Uyen Nguyen Thanh ’23
Honorable Mention – Olivia Kathryn Sacci ’24
This award is given by Judith Riddick Reynolds, class of 1915, in memory of her granddaughter, Judith Gregory Smith, who would have been a fourth-generation alumna in the class of 1990. It recognizes excellence in the natural sciences.

Lisa Lindsey Award for Excellence in Theatre Arts
Theatre:
Tatiana Alexis Durant ’21
Anna Mitchell Johnson ’21
Lilyana Marie Miller ’21
Dance:
Chloe Fiona Mahalek ’22
Established by Mary Varner Meryweather, class of 1941, as a memorial to her classmate and friend, Lisa Lindsey, this award, consisting of a cash prize and a certificate, is presented annually to a student who demonstrates outstanding achievement in theatre arts.

Mae Shelton Boger Award
Emma Valentine Fitzgerald ’21
Mae Shelton Boger, class of 1941, derived particular pleasure from her studies in French. This endowed award, given in her memory, is presented annually to an outstanding student of French who combines sound scholarship with pleasure in the pursuit of her studies.

Margaret Markley Smith Awards
Art History:
Shelby Lynn Barbee ’21
Studio Art:
Candice Marie Housden ’21
English:
Winner – Joanna “Jay” Wright ’21
Runner-up – Averi Danielle Greenstreet ’21
Runner-up – Carly Pawlowska Lewis ’21
In memory of Margaret Markley Smith, class of 1938, these awards are given to a senior majoring in art and a senior majoring in English for outstanding work.

Marion Garrett Lunsford Music Award
Mary Elizabeth Simmons ’21
Established as a fund in memory of Marion Garrett Lunsford, class of 1926, this award is given annually to a member of the senior class for distinguished accomplishment in music.

Mary Houska Scholarship
Elizabeth Katy Brown ’22
The purpose of this award is to recognize an outstanding upperclass economics or business major who has demonstrated superior academic performance.

Mary-Barbara Zeldin Award
Julia “Jules” Jackson ’21
This award, established by students, colleagues, and friends in honor of Professor Mary-Barbara Zeldin, who taught philosophy at Hollins from 1953 until her death in 1981, is given to a rising junior, rising senior, or senior for excellence in philosophy.

Mary Vincent Long Award in English
Claire Michaela Hintz ’21
Renee Marie Roberts ’21
In memory of Mary Vincent Long, a member of the Hollins English faculty from 1938 to 1959, this award is given to a senior English major who exemplifies in the study of literature “a mind capable of going beyond concern with immediate facts to understanding and creation.”

Mary Williamson Award
Aysia Skye Brenner ’21
This award is given in memory of the late Professor Mary Williamson of the department of philosophy and religion for the best study submitted in the field of humanities.

Melanie Hook Rice Award in Creative Nonfiction
Winner – Jennifer “Jen” Lazar M.F.A. ’21
Runner-up – Meghana Mysore M.F.A. ’22
Runner-up – Sharon Christner, MFA ’21
In memory of Melanie Hook Rice, class of 1975, this award is given to a graduate or undergraduate student in the creative writing program who has demonstrated considerable writing skills and has either completed or made substantial progress toward writing a book-length work of nonfiction.

Melanie Hook Rice Award in the Novel
Winner – Cory Crouser M.F.A. ’21
Runner-up – Zoe Wright M.F.A. ’21
In memory of Melanie Hook Rice, class of 1975, this award is given to a graduate or undergraduate student in the creative writing program who has demonstrated considerable writing skills and has either completed or made substantial progress toward writing a novel.

Mildred Persinger ’39 – Shocky Pilafian Award in Gender and Women’s Studies
Te’ya Kaye Mitchell ’21
This award acknowledges excellence in academic achievement as well as significant contributions to social activism both within the Hollins community and beyond. The award seeks to recognize gender and women’s studies graduates who are working to effect social change and bring about social justice in a variety of arenas. This award is given to a graduating gender and women’s studies major.

Nancy Ellen Couper Ault Award in Ethics, Morals, and Values
Emily Michelle Bulifant ’22
Available to any student of the college and is accordingly an interdisciplinary honor, encourages students to think critically about important ethical questions affecting a broad range of endeavors.

Nancy Penn Holsenbeck Prize in English
Winner – Fanny “Isabel” Estrada Lugo ’22
Runner-up – Amity Jane Williams ’22
In memory of Nancy Penn Holsenbeck, class of 1938, this award is given to a rising sophomore, junior, or senior English major who has demonstrated both a love and a command of the English language.

Nancy Thorp Poetry Prize
Isabel May Houck ’21
In memory of Nancy Thorp, who attended Hollins from 1956 to 1958, this award is given to an undergraduate student who has written the best poem to appear in the student-produced literary magazine Cargoes.

Nicole Kohn Film Award
Anja Elizabeth Holland ’21
This award is given in memory of Nicole Kohn, class of 2002, to a filmmaking student of exceptional promise.

Patricia Dowd Overall Award
Mary Rose Christian ’21
Patricia Dowd Overall is a member of the class of 1954. In her honor a prize is given annually to the student who, in the judgment of the department of education, has demonstrated in the schoolroom the greatest mastery and promise in the art of teaching.

Pi Sigma Alpha Award
Saoirse Eire Healy ’21
This award is given to the senior with the highest grade point average in courses taken in political science.

Sarah McCutchen Cook International Studies Award
Christine Marie Emeric-Martinez ’22
The purpose of this award is to recognize an outstanding undergraduate student majoring in international studies.

Stephanie Mahan Hispanophile Award
Mary Elisabeth Cochran ’21
This award is given to a senior Spanish major or minor whose enthusiasm and outstanding interest in things Hispanic most closely mirror the example set by Stephanie Lynn Mahan, class of 1995. Specifically, this student must have sought out first-hand experience in the Spanish-speaking world, and must have generously shared her knowledge of that world with her peers.

Wyndham Robertson Library Undergraduate Research Award
Faith Jaqueline Clarkson ’22
Joanna “Jay” Wright ’21
Established in 2011 by the library for the recognition of exemplary undergraduate student research projects completed in Hollins courses. Two prizes are awarded, one to a first-year or sophomore and one to a junior or senior.

FACULTY AWARDS

The Herta Freitag Faculty Legacy Award
Ángel Diaz, professor of Spanish
Awarded to a full-time teaching faculty member who has received external recognition of professional excellence from the last three years in the form of publications and papers, exhibits and performances, prizes, and other related expressions of their work.

Senior Class Faculty Award
Pauline Kaldas, professor of English
Given by the senior class  to a faculty member who has made a significant impact on their lives.

Hollins Faculty Excellence in Teaching Award
Initiated in 2021, recognizes two members of the faculty – one full-time tenure-track/tenured faculty member, and one non- tenure track faculty member – who motivate and inspire students through the demonstration of exemplary teaching practices, and who have made a positive impact on the teaching culture of the University through innovative and high-impact teaching methodologies, inclusive pedagogies, community engagement in teaching/learning, creative and/or interdisciplinary course development, instructional support, and/or campus leadership around pedagogy. Given that the inauguration of the award last year was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year the award was presented to two tenured or tenure-track faculty and two non-tenure-track faculty members.
Tenured/tenure track category:
Renee Godard – professor of biology
Tina Salowey – professor of classical studies
Non-tenure-track category:
Ashleigh Breske – visiting assistant professor of global politics and societies
Jeanne Jegousso – visiting assistant professor of French

Roberta A. Stewart Service Award
Ernie Zulia, professor emerita of theatre
Granted to a Hollins employee who demonstrates long-term service, loyalty to the university, and deep caring for students and colleagues.

 

 


Chi Alpha Sigma Inducts Eight Hollins Student-Athletes

 

 

Chi Alpha Sigma, the national honor society recognizing collegiate student-athletes for their achievements in athletic competition as well as in the classroom, is welcoming eight new members from Hollins University Athletics.

 

 

New inductees for the 2020-21 academic year include:

Kaeley Aroesty ’22 – Riding
Hannah Arthur ’22 – Volleyball and Riding
Madeline Evangelista ’21 – Swimming
Sarah Grace Himes ’22 – Riding
Summer Jaime ’22 – Swimming
Hannah Jones ’22 – Riding
Abigail Richards ’22 – Soccer
Kayla Surles ’22 – Basketball

The eight new members join the 18 Hollins student-athletes who were inducted for the 2019-20 academic year:

Juliette Baek ’20 – Tennis
Megan Bull ’21 – Swimming
Shravani Chitineni ’21 – Soccer
Grace Davis ’21 – Cross Country and Swimming
Hanna DeVarona ’21 – Swimming
Elizabeth Eubank ’21 – Tennis
Carsen Helms ’22 – Basketball and Lacrosse
Logan Landfried ’21 – Riding and Lacrosse
Emily Miehlke ’21 – Swimming
Hannah Piatak ’21 – Volleyball
Claire Reid ’20 – Riding
Cecilia Riddle ’20 – Basketball and Track & Field
Alex Sanchez ’20 – Swimming and Riding
Caylin Smith ’21 – Soccer
Molly Sullivan ’21 – Swimming
Madi Szurley ’21 – Lacrosse
Keyazia Taylor ’21 – Basketball
Yasmine Tyler ’21 – Basketball

Chi Alpha Sigma honors college student-athletes who participate in a sport at the varsity intercollegiate level, achieve junior academic standing or higher after their fifth full time semester, and earn a 3.4 or higher cumulative grade point average.

 

 


Wyndham Robertson Library Announces 2021 Undergraduate Research Awards

For the tenth consecutive year, Wyndham Robertson Library has recognized exemplary student projects completed in Hollins courses with the presentation of the 2021 Undergraduate Research Awards.

The awards were established in 2011 to honor research projects that showcase extensive and creative use of the library’s resources; the ability to synthesize those resources in completing each project; and growth in the student’s research skills. All current Hollins undergraduate students are eligible and two awards are given: one for a first-year/sophomore and the second for a junior/senior. Winners receive a $250 cash prize and publication/archiving of their work on the Hollins Digital Commons.

The winners and finalists for the 2021 Undergraduate Research Awards include:

First-Year/Sophomore

Winner: “Interpretresses: Native American Women Translators in Colonial America” by Faith Clarkson, recommended by Assistant Professor of History Christopher Florio

Finalist: “The Impact of Patriarchy on Stud Lesbians” by Meilin Miller, recommended by Professor of Anthropology and Gender & Women’s Studies LeeRay Costa

Junior/Senior

Winner: “The Creature in The Looking Glass: Miltonic Marriage and The Female Self in Breaking Dawn”  by Jay Wright, recommended by Professor of English & Creative Writing Julie Pfeiffer

Finalist: “The Relationship Between Parasocial Relationships and Chronic Ostracism Among Differing Belongingness Needs” by Kaitlin Mitchell, recommended by Professor of Psychology Bonnie Bowers


President Mary Dana Hinton Is Among the Newest Members of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences

Hollins University President Mary Dana Hinton has been elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, an organization established in 1780 by John Adams, John Hancock, and others among the nation’s founders to honor exceptionally accomplished individuals and engage them in advancing the public good.

Announcing this year’s new members, the Academy stated, “The 2021 election provides an opportunity to recognize extraordinary people who help solve the world’s most urgent challenges, create meaning through art, and contribute to the common good from every field, discipline, and profession.”

“We are honoring the excellence of these individuals, celebrating what they have achieved so far, and imagining what they will continue to accomplish,” added David Oxtoby, president of the Academy. “This is an opportunity to illuminate the importance of art, ideas, knowledge, and leadership that can make a better world.”

The Academy’s newest members are grouped in 30 sections within five classes. Hinton is among the seven elected in the Educational and Academic Leadership section from the Leadership, Policy, and Communications class. Other new members from this section are Joy Connolly, American Council of Learned Societies; Michael M. Crow, Arizona State University; John W. Etchemendy, Stanford University;  Katherine E. Fleming, New York University; Kumble R. Subbaswamy, University of Massachusetts Amherst; and H. Holden Thorp, American Association for the Advancement of Science. They join other artists, scholars, scientists, and leaders in the public, nonprofit, and private sectors elected this year including:

  • Economist Dirk Bergemann, Yale University
  • Civil rights lawyer and scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw, Columbia Law School; UCLA School of Law
  • Neurosurgeon and medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta, CNN; Emory University
  • Civil rights activist and math literacy pioneer Robert Moses, The Algebra Project
  • Composer, songwriter, and performer Robbie Robertson
  • Journalist Kara Swisher, VOX Media Inc.; The New York Times
  • Atmospheric scientist Anne Thompson, NASA/Godard Space Flight Center
  • Media entrepreneur and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey

The Academy noted that 55% of the members elected in 2021 are women.

“While it is noteworthy that we continue to elect members more than 240 years after the Academy’s founding, this is about more than maintaining traditions,” said Academy Board of Directors Chair Nancy C. Andrews. “We recognize individuals who use their talents and their influence to confront today’s challenges, to lift our spirits through the arts, and to help shape our collective future.”

The new class joins Academy members elected before them, including Benjamin Franklin (1781), Alexander Hamilton (1791), Ralph Waldo Emerson (1864), Charles Darwin (1874), Albert Einstein (1924), Robert Frost (1931), Margaret Mead (1948), Martin Luther King Jr. (1966), Anthony Fauci (1991), Antonin Scalia (2003), John Legend (2017), and Anna Devere Smith (2019).


Princeton Review: Hollins Is Among Nation’s Top Colleges for Alumni Networking, Internships, Value

Hollins University nationally has the #5 Best Alumni Network (Private Schools) and is 12th among the Best Schools for Internships (Private Schools), according to The Princeton Review’s Best Value Colleges for 2021.

The Best Alumni Network rankings are based on students’ ratings of alumni activity and visibility on campus, while the Best Schools for Internships are determined by students’ ratings of accessibility of internship placement at their school.

The education services company also selected Hollins as one of the nation’s top 200 colleges “for students seeking a superb education at an affordable price.”

The Princeton Review chose its Best Value Colleges for 2021 based on data the company collected from its surveys of administrators at more than 650 colleges in 2019-20. The company also factored in data from its surveys of students attending the schools as well as PayScale.com surveys of alumni of the schools about their starting and mid-career salaries and job satisfaction figures.

In all, The Princeton Review crunched more than 40 data points to tally ROI (Return on Investment) ratings of the colleges that determined its selection of the 200 schools for the 2021 project. Topics covered everything from academics, cost, and financial aid to graduation rates, student debt, alumni salaries, and job satisfaction.

“The schools we name as our Best Value Colleges for 2021 comprise only just over one percent of the nation’s four-year colleges,” noted Robert Franek, The Princeton Review’s editor-in-chief. “They are distinctive in their programs, size, region, and type, yet they are similar in three areas. Every school we selected offers outstanding academics, generous financial aid and/or a relative low cost of attendance, and stellar career services. We salute Hollins University for these exceptional offerings and recommend it highly to college applicants and parents.”


Leah Wilkins ’23 Selected for Prelaw Undergraduate Scholar Program

Leah Wilkins ’23 has been named a Prelaw Undergraduate Scholar (PLUS) by the Law School Admission Council (LSAC).

The political science major is one of only 185 scholars competitively selected nationally to attend an intensive five-week summer program with law school faculty at one of seven partner institutions. LSAC is a not-for-profit organization committed to promoting quality, access, and equity in law and education worldwide by supporting individuals’ enrollment journeys and providing preeminent assessment, data, and technology services. LSAC’s PLUS program is designed to increase the number of lawyers from underrepresented groups by introducing first- and second-year college students to the skills important for success in law school. Propelling future legal careers, scholars receive a summer stipend, and LSAC funds their law school application process and admission test, the LSAT.

Wilkins is passionate about amplifying Black women’s voices and experiences in law and policy. “My knowledge will be an asset to my community,” she said of translating her Hollins courses such as Gender and the Law to legal practice. She is excited to work with the law school faculty at the University of Houston Law Center (UHLC). “Born and raised in Texas, continuing my training at UHLC this summer is an honor,” she stated, adding that she is confident the program will make her an even “better advocate in a state I love.”

Assistant Professor of Political Science and Gender and Women’s Studies Courtney Chenette, who is also an attorney, noted that “Leah’s confident leadership and interpersonal intelligence already make her a successful community advocate.” Wilkins serves as vice president of Sandusky House, Hollins’ community service residence hall, and as chair of the university’s Honor Court, which is charged with hearing issues of honesty and integrity and upholding Hollins’ core values. She is committed to building an empowering community at Hollins and in her future as a lawyer.


Hollins Announces Winner of the 2021 Margaret Wise Brown Prize in Children’s Literature

Hollins University has honored Newbery Medalist and New York Times bestselling author Meg Medina as the winner of the sixth annual Margaret Wise Brown Prize in Children’s Literature.

Medina will receive an engraved medal and a $1,000 cash prize for Evelyn Del Rey Is Moving Away, a story of friendship and change illustrated by Sonia Sánchez and published by Candlewick Press.

Evelyn Del Rey Is Moving Away is all at once poignant and hopeful, poetic but utterly child-centered,” the judges for this year’s prize stated. “From the moment you meet the moving truck ‘with its mouth wide open’ you know you’re in their world – these nearly twin mejor amigas who are having to say goodbye. Thankfully, Medina and Sánchez make the experience – even the really sad parts – sing.”

Medina’s other books include Merci Suárez Changes Gears, the 2019 John Newbery Medal winner; Burn Baby Burn, long-listed for the 2016 National Book Award; and The Girl Who Could Silence the Wind, a 2012 Bank Street College Best Children’s Book of the Year. She resides in Richmond, Virginia, and in addition to writing, she works on community projects that support girls, Latino youth, and/or literacy. She serves on the National Board of Advisors for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and is a faculty member of Hamline University’s Master of Fine Arts program in children’s literature.

Judges for this year’s Margaret Wise Brown Prize also named one Honor Book: You Matter by author/illustrator Christian Robinson and published by Atheneum Books for Young Readers. “A quirky, whimsical, nearly circular text that can be read in more than one way, helping young readers understand that they might be both specks of stardust and the stars themselves,” commented the judges. “Lyrical and affirming but also funny and particular in such a Margaret Wise Brown way.”

Hollins established the Margaret Wise Brown Prize in Children’s Literature as a way to pay tribute to one of its best-known alumnae and one of America’s most beloved children’s authors. The cash prizes are made possible by an endowed fund created by James Rockefeller, Brown’s fiancé at the time of her death.

“The Margaret Wise Brown Prize is one of the few children’s book awards that has a cash prize attached,” said Lisa Rowe Fraustino, director of the graduate programs in children’s literature at Hollins.

The engraved medal presented to the winners was conceived by award-winning sculptor, painter, and Hollins alumna Betty Branch of Roanoke. Winners and Honor Book recipients are presented an original linocut certificate designed and donated by Ashley Wolff, author and/or illustrator of more than 50 children’s books.

Margaret Wise Brown graduated from Hollins in 1932 and went on to write Goodnight Moon, The Runaway Bunny, and other children’s classics before she died in 1952.

The study of children’s literature as a scholarly experience was initiated at Hollins in 1973; in 1992, the graduate program in children’s literature was founded. Today, Hollins offers summer M.A. and M.F.A. programs exclusively in the study and writing of children’s literature, an M.F.A. in children’s book writing and illustrating, and a graduate-level certificate in children’s illustration.

This summer, Hollins’ children’s literature program will release information on how to submit books for consideration for the 2022 Margaret Wise Brown Prize.


“I Know What I Want Things to Sound Like”: Hollins Senior Earns Design Honors From Prestigious Theatre Conferences

When theatre audiences immerse themselves in a live drama, musical, or comedy, they delight in the playwright’s words and the director’s vision coming to life through a talented cast of actors. They marvel at the visual look and quality of the sets. Yet there’s one crucial aspect of a stage production where curiously enough, the better it’s executed, the less it’s noticed.

“People usually only notice the sound design when it’s bad,” laughs Anna Johnson ’21. “You can’t do it for the praise.”

Nevertheless, the senior from Asheville, North Carolina, “just fell in love immediately” with sound design when she served as the audio board operator for a production during Fall Term of her first year at Hollins. “Getting to see the impact theatre had on both the cast and the campus was just really incredible.” Johnson had enrolled at Hollins intending to study chemistry, but “from that moment I knew that I was going to be a theatre major.”

From the Black Box Theatre and new works from Hollins playwrights to Main Stage productions, Johnson has honed her craft through 26 shows. She recently earned coveted recognition from two of the nation’s premier college theatre conferences: The Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (KCACTF) Region IV and the Southeastern Theatre Conference (SETC) both honored her with first place awards for her sound design work on The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, presented virtually by Hollins Theatre in October 2020.

“It has this beautiful, natural rhythm,” Johnson says of the Tony Award-winning drama. “I was trying to honor that by breathing life into it, which especially in a static environment such as Zoom was really important.”

Johnson got to lead sound design on a production shortly after her initial experience as a board operator. Wanting to learn more about sound, she worked closely with Hollins Theatre Technical Director John Forsman and a senior who trained her in QLab, a sound design software program. At the end of Fall Term her first year, Johnson was approached by Todd Ristau, director of the Playwright’s Lab at Hollins, who was planning for the annual Hollins-Mill Mountain Winter Festival of New Works.

“Todd said, ‘Our sound designer can’t be here for Winter Festival, do you want to come design?’ I had never designed a play before, but he had full faith in me.” Johnson wasn’t exactly pleased with her debut design (“It sucked. It was not good.”). Still, she recognized she was building a foundation for subsequent success. “I formed relationships with my peers and the faculty, and I was willing to give it my all, even if I wasn’t very talented at that point.”

Despite the challenging start, the Winter Festival of New Works would ultimately become “my favorite thing that Hollins does,” Johnson says. “I’ve done seven shows with Winter Festival and I’ve gotten to know a lot of the playwrights. They’re truly incredible and it’s been fun to form those connections.”

Johnson discovered that she was especially passionate about working on new plays. “You get to be one of the collaborators in the room trying to bring the show to life, and that first production of a show is so important. Letting the playwright see their work on stage, fully produced for the first time, really informs them of how they want to proceed with their next draft.”

Johnson says sound design is unique from other areas of theatre design because “there’s not really a vocabulary for it. I’ve had directors say, ‘Oh, I want it to sound purple.’ That really doesn’t mean anything, so design is certainly a process.”

The sound designer’s work starts coming into focus even before the first production meeting. “Sound design is a lot of paperwork, so I create these cue sheets for my initial meeting with the director. It has every possible sound cue we could have in the show,” Johnson explains. “You come in with a statement for what you think the design is going to be for the show, and what’s going to help it. From there, you start collecting sound files and meeting weekly with the director.”

Preparations for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time began early in 2020 as the show was scheduled to be Hollins Theatre’s Main Stage spring production. All of Johnson’s work had been completed for what she describes as “one of the most technically complicated shows you can do” when Hollins announced in March that students would be sent home and all campus activities and events canceled because of the threat from the COVID-19 pandemic. Johnson was hopeful her plans could still be put into action for a fall production, but the public health crisis was ongoing and large gatherings remained off-limits. With an actual stage production of Curious Incident on hold indefinitely, the decision was made to present the show virtually last fall via Zoom livestream. That meant the production company members, none of whom had ever done a Zoom show before, had to start from scratch.

“It was kind of wild. We only had a month and a half to put Curious Incident up for the fall and we had no idea what we were doing.” Johnson says it was initially heartbreaking to realize most of the original technical planning had to be cut, “but I just had to keep in mind that everybody was dealing with it. With this production, somebody was in Missouri, somebody was in California, somebody was in Pennsylvania. John Forsman and Kiah Kayser (McDonnell Visiting Faculty with the theatre department and video designer for Curious Incident) had to send every actor a box with costumes, props, and a green screen, which many people ended up duct taping to their living room walls.”

Working closely with Kayser, Johnson often put in 17-hour days. The show’s original stage manager graduated from Hollins in the spring of 2020, which necessitated Johnson and Kayser calling their own cues during the tech rehearsals and performances. “Usually you have maybe 30 sound cues, but our Zoom show had 200 official cues and over 1,100 internal cues, which doesn’t include the video cues. You have to gain a rhythm in order for it to be seamless. I would go to Kiah’s office every day and we would sit there and talk about the cues for hours: ‘This needs to coordinate here, this is how we should do this.’ You don’t always have the opportunity to do that in theatre, to collaborate with somebody that closely.”

Johnson cites one act of Curious Incident as an example of how their work came to fruition successfully. Christopher, the play’s main character, is a teenager on the autism spectrum who spends the entire second act of the play on a journey to London via his first trip on a train, even though he hates loud noises. “It’s beautifully written how he experiences things for the first time and you get to see him live those moments through. I had to create the entire world through soundscapes because in Zoom, you don’t have the benefit of a set. You don’t have a clear idea of where the actors are. Kiah’s video design really helped with that.”

The recognition from KCACTF and SETC has been gratifying for Johnson, but the enduring benefit she sees from her “incredible experience” working on Curious Incident has been the ability to step back and see the ways she has grown as a designer, paving the way for her to pursue an M.F.A. in sound design at the University of Memphis this fall. “As a sound designer, I know I have weaknesses, but I have a fairly clear artistic voice and I know what I want things to sound like,” she says. She’s incredibly busy this spring, submitting her work to festivals to build her portfolio, sound designing and acting in Hollins Theatre’s virtual production of Decision Height in April, sound designing another show, and writing a musical for her honors thesis, all while holding down a full-time job at a local Staples.

Over the past four years, she also believes she has grown profoundly on a personal level, thanks in large part to the support she’s received from the entire theatre department. “I suffer from bipolar disorder, and the theatre faculty have helped me through some difficult times in my life. I can take control of some things in ways I didn’t realize I could. Todd Ristau, Ernie Zulia, Kiah Kayser, John Forsman, Lauren Ellis, Anna Goodwin, Susie Young, and Rachel Nelson all saw potential in me when I didn’t see potential in me.”

Johnson holds dear Zulia’s description of Hollins Theatre not as just an academic department but as an artistic home where alumnae are always cherished. “Alumnae have gone out into the world and done incredible work, and then they get to come back and bring that love of Hollins and love of theatre. For students, that truly has an impact. I hope one day they’ll bring me back as a sound designer.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Hollins Announces Six Winners of the 57th Annual Nancy Thorp Poetry Contest

Whoever said poetry doesn’t pay must’ve never applied to a poetry competition. Case in point, Hollins University announced this week the first- and second-place winners to its 57th Annual Nancy Thorp Poetry Contest. The international competition for young women in high school recognized six talented writers, awarding the top prize to Samiksha Gaherwar of Lambert High School in Suwanee, Georgia, for her poem “slavish numerals.”

“I’m deeply honored to receive this award and incredibly excited at the opportunity to attend the Hollinsummer creative writing program,” said Gaherwar. “Thank you for [fostering] appreciation and love for poetry in my generation!”

In addition to free tuition and housing for the university’s 2021 summer creative writing workshops, Gaherwar will also receive a $350 cash prize and publication in Cargoes, Hollins’ student-run literary magazine, plus the option to receive a renewable scholarship of up to $5000 a year, should she choose to enroll at the university. 

Hollins also recognized six second-place poems, each of which will be published in Cargoes. In a rare occurrence, two of those poems were submitted by the same student, Chaerim Kim-Worthington of North Hollywood, California, who received a separate “double-winner” prize of free tuition and housing for Hollinsummer. The other second-place winners will receive a $500 scholarship applicable toward those same summer programs. 

It was a very competitive contest this year,” said Jessie van Eerden, associate professor of English and creative writing at Hollins and contest coordinator. The 57th edition received a total of 968 poems written by 607 contestants (each contestant could submit only two poems). The young writers hailed from across the United States, D.C., Puerto Rico, and 18 countries abroad, including some as far-flung as Taiwan, Germany, New Zealand, and Kazakhstan. “[Gaherwar] ended up sending me an email that was really over the moon,” recalled van Eerden about the first-place winner’s response. “She was just so humble, too, and that struck me, that she was kind of taken by surprise to have her work recognized.” 

Picking a winner for the contest during the pandemic was no easy task either. The first round of judging took place in person, and because of COVID restrictions, van Eerden and only around a dozen undergraduate and graduate students were responsible for winnowing those initial 968 poems down to a pool of just 21. The final round of judging took place via Zoom on February 24, involving more than 60 faculty and students in Hollins’ English and Creative Writing Department.

“It’s been lovely to support so many high school young women in the process,” van Eerden said.

Here is the full list of winners:

First Place:

Samiksha Gaherwar

Lambert High School

Suwanee, GA

“slavish numerals”

 

Second Place:

Ashley Bao

Cab Calloway School of the Arts High School

Wilmington, DE

“greenville, ms”

 

Chaerim Kim-Worthington

Harvard-Westlake School

North Hollywood, CA

“modern greek student falls in love with ancient greek student”

and “on wasps”

 

Sarah Mohammed

The Harker School

San Jose, CA

“Spit & a white man’s bruised fist”

 

Gaia Rajan

Phillips Academy

Andover, MA

“Killing It”

 

Olivia Yang

Phillips Academy

Andover, MA

“Etymology of Loss”

 

Jeff Dingler is a graduate assistant in Hollins’ marketing and communications department. He is pursuing his M.F.A. in creative writing at the university.