English Honor Society Wins Outstanding Chapter Award

From left: Ariana Fernandez, Sydney Bulthuis, Rachel Sakrisson, Abigail Skinner, Olivia Taylor, Megan Konynenbelt, Eden Prime, Sarah Selden, Brooke Stanish and Julianna Weiss pose for a photo during a break from presenting at the Sigma Tau Delta International Convention in St. Louis, Missouri, in March.The University’s Alpha Zeta Mu chapter of the Sigma Tau Delta International English Honor Society won the Outstanding Chapter Award this spring, achieving the honor for the second time in three years.

The award recognizes the chapter as the best of more than 850 universities. PBA’s chapter received an abundance of other accolades.

Ten students presented at the international convention in St. Louis, Missouri, this year, up from last year’s eight.

Rachel Sakrisson ’19, the English department’s outstanding graduate and a Women of Distinction scholarship recipient, won first place in the British Literature category at the 2018 convention for her critical essay “Iago, Othello and the Languages of Passivity and Activity.” Sakrisson went on to win Sigma Tau Delta’s internship stipend to pay her living expenses while working for Sen. Marco Rubio in Washington, D.C., this summer.

Rita Rivera ’18, a past chapter president, won Sigma Tau Delta’s 2017-18 Student Leadership Award. She is one of only two members nationally to receive the award. Rivera also received an honorable mention for her original prose, “Padre Nuestro,” at the 2018 convention.

For the fifth straight year, the chapter has had a student or students accepted to the “Rectangle,” Sigma Delta Tau’s creative writing journal, said faculty adviser Dr. Carl Miller.

“It really is a reflection on the quality of our students, not just in the English department but at PBA,” Miller said.

From left: Victoria Randall, Abigail Skinner, Jacob Hawk, Rachel Sakrisson, Rita Rivera, Therese Hair, Isabella Lindh and Alexandra Gomez pose for a future during the Sigma Tau Delta International Honor Society's convention in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 2018.The honor society is open to students of any major, as long as they have completed at least two English courses beyond the usual requirements for freshman English, maintain a ‘B’ average or higher and rank in the highest 35 percent of their class.

The English faculty nominated students. At their induction ceremony, rather than repeating an oath, students read aloud their favorite literary passage.

Miller credited English Professor David Athey for advising students on their submissions to the writing journal, as well as advising the honor society while Miller was teaching in London for a semester.

Rivera’s short fiction story, “Padre Nuestro,” was published in the 2019 “Rectangle.” David Doyle ’18 had two poems published in the journal. Rivera was a psychology and English major, and Doyle was in the pre-health professional preparation track of the biology major.

Financial support from PBA allowed the chapter to send students to the national convention, where they had been accepted to present.

Presenting at the convention gave students a taste of graduate school — which helped them decide if it’s something they want to pursue. The experience also bolstered their graduate school applications.

“This really is an all-star cast that we have going,” Miller said. “These are students who really love literature and love writing.”

Photo 1: From left: Ariana Fernandez, Sydney Bulthuis, Rachel Sakrisson, Abigail Skinner, Olivia Taylor, Megan Konynenbelt, Eden Prime, Sarah Selden, Brooke Stanish and Julianna Weiss pose for a photo during a break from presenting at the Sigma Tau Delta International Convention in St. Louis, Missouri, in March.

Photo 2: From left: Victoria Randall, Abigail Skinner, Jacob Hawk, Rachel Sakrisson, Rita Rivera, Therese Hair, Isabella Lindh and Alexandra Gomez pose for a future during the Sigma Tau Delta International Honor Society's convention in Cincinnati, Ohio, in 2018.