2015-2016 Awards and Announcements

Award Winning Students

Each spring, the English and Journalism Departments awards $20,000 in scholarships and fellowships for our graduate and undergraduate students.  We are pleased to announce the following students were awarded English and Journalism scholarships this spring for the 2015-2016 academic year.

Undergraduate Scholarship and Award Winners

Barbara & John Blackburn  Scholarship– Annie Gortowski; Paul Blackford Scholarship – Katelin Deushane and Haley Helgesen; Olive Fite Scholarship – Arielle Henry; Irving Garwood Scholarship – Bryce Swain; Robert Hodges Scholarship – Lindsey Nebergall; Lila Linder Scholarship– Molly Cameron and Dakota Carlson; Karen Mann Award – Katelin Deushane; Alfred Lindsey Scholarship – Rachel Troyer; John Merrett Scholarship – Zoe Detlaf; Beth Stiffler Scholarship – Jessica Burke  – Nai-Tung Ting Scholarship: Becky Graham – Lowell N. Johnson Foundation Scholarship Rebecca Graham and Anna Teggatz; – Western Comittment Scholarships Anna Teggatz and Samantha Lindholm – Michaela Rae Romano Scholarship- Ben Ferrell and Laura Winton; Norman & Carmelita Teeter Undergraduate Research Award – Tanya Nimz.

Scholar of the Year Scholarship– Haley Helgesen

Writing Awards

Bruce H. Leland Essay Contest: English 100, Introduction to Writing  1st Place, Megan Hilt; 2nd Place, Torrill Marshall; 3rd Place; Kayla Woods. English 180, College Writing I  1st Place, Aaron Saenz; 2nd Place, Filip Czarnecki; 3rd Place, Evangelina Zguri. English 280, College Writing II 1st Place Rachel Sampson; 2nd Place, Jasbir Kaur Bhangal; 3rd Place, Christine Jordan. Lois C. Bruner Creative Nonfiction Awards 1st Place, Justin Kim;  2nd Place, Alyson Eagan; 3rd Place, Jared Worley. Cordell Larner Award in Fiction 1st Place, Katelin Deushane; 2nd Place; Jocelyn James; 3rd Place; Jon Naskrent. Cordell Larner Award in Poetry 1st Place, Jon Naskrent; 2nd Place, Jocelyn James; 3rd Place, Katherine Garon

Graduate Scholarship, Fellowship, and Award Winners

John Mahoney Research Fellowship – Cody Cunningham; Ron & Leslie Walker Graduate Fellowships –  Sheldon Gaskell and Stephanie Hoover; Syndy M. Conger Essay Award – Julianne J. Kaiser; Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award – Christopher Ivy.

Departmental and College Scholar Awards

The Departmental Scholar awards are sponsored by the Illinois Centennial Honors College.  Each semester, departments select the top student in each of their majors graduating that semester.  Students are selected based on g.p.a. as well as honors and activities.  Those selected receive a medallion to be worn at graduation.  Our winners for this year are MaryBeth Hornbaker and Justin Kim

Cecile A. Christison Sterrett College Scholar for Fall 2015, MaryBeth Hornbaker


Jacque Wilson-Jordan and Barbara Harroun co-advised the student veteran’s magazine, SITREP: Veteran Perspectives on Combat and Peace, Volume II. We worked with student editors Ryan Bronaugh (fiction editor, grad student, English), Daniel Holst (poetry editor, grad student English QC), Luke Cummings (art editor, grad student, English, QC) and Jared Worley (undergrad–English). The magazine includes fiction, non-fiction, poems, and photographs from several WIU-affiliated contributors, including students, alumni, faculty, and staff, who represented all the major branches of the service and served in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan as well as other locations stateside and overseas. The  magazine launched May 11, 2016. In Fall, 2015 the SITREP team was invited and presented at local venues Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Macomb, Macomb Women’s Club. Stories about our work have appeared in the McDonough County Voice, The Macopolitan, and Tri-States Public Radio. Last year’s magazine, Volume I, has gone through at least three printings and is now available at the University Union bookstore.

Students in English represented at The 2nd annual WIU-QC Student Research ConferencePresenters included posters by English majors Haidee Cardoso, Becky Graham, Sean Harrison, Stephanie Hoover, Di Ann Vulich; and podium presentations for students in English classes by Zachary Almquist, Janae
Arnold, Haidee Cardoso, Kirsten Dillender, Kaleb Rorbakken, Laura Winton, and Loren Yeager.

Eight students presented their creative and critical work at this year’s Sigma Tau Delta international convention in downtown Minneapolis: Molly Cameron – critical paper – sponsored by David Banash; Kirsten Dillender – creative writing – sponsored by Barbara Ashwood; Haley Helgesen – critical paper & roundtable presentation – sponsored by Tim Helwig; Justin Kim – critical paper – sponsored by David Banash; Natasha Morgan – creative writing – sponsored by Magdelyn Helwig; Tanya Nimz – creative writing – sponsored by Magdelyn Helwig; Brandon Nizzio – creative writing – sponsored by Barbara Ashwood; Jared Worley – creative writing & roundtable presentation – sponsored by Barbara Ashwood.

Current Undergraduate Students

Victoria Anderson was accepted to the School of Library and Information Science at University of Iowa.

Adam Colgan  is currently in post-production on his first short film, a documentary entitled RX-Pot, a look into the medical use of marijuana in Illinois.

Kirsten Dillender interned with the Putnam Museum and was accepted and funded in Western’s English M.A. program

Presley DiNardi will teach at Bushnell-Prairie City Jr. High School in Bushnell, Il.

Rebecca Gonner has a summer internship at Prime Publishing in Northbrook, Il.

Ashley Grady presented on the panel “Exploring Diversity with Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe” at IATE (Illinois Association of Teachers of English).

Ashley Hill will teach at Bushnell High School in Bushnell, Il. Her courses will include Junior English Language Arts, Greek Mythology, Short Story, and Poetry.

Jessica Hill had library internships in the Rock Island and Davenport school systems, as well as Moline Public Library.

Molly Hall won a $2,000 capacity building grant to improve a teen center and secured a summer internship at Prime Publishing in Northbrook, Il.

Meghan Haupers presented on the panel “Exploring Diversity with Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe” at IATE (Illinois Association of Teachers of English).

Haley Helgesen  was elected to serve as the Midwestern Student Representative for Sigma Tau Delta, a one-year position that involves duties at the national and regional levels of the organization. She will serve alongside Dr. Tim Helwig, the organization’s Midwestern Regent. This summer, she has a prestigious, paid internship at EA games.

MaryBeth Hornbaker will teach at Hamilton Jr-Sr High School in Hamilton, IL. Her courses will include English I, English III, English IV, Digital Media/Yearbook, Drama.

Tamika Robinson will teach at United Township High School in East Moline, Il). Her courses will include General Freshman English Language Arts and College Prep Junior English Language Arts.

Austin Thompson, a Film and Creative Writing minor, is currently working on his second short film. His first short film The Break In was awarded at the Fault Line Film Festival in Missouri.

Ashley Wilson had a library internship in the Rock Island school system and was accepted to the Graduate School of Library and Information Science at U Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Current Graduate Students

Chelsea Brotherton accepted a position at TriMed Media Group as a News Writer in Chicago, Il.

Cody Cunningham traveled to Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library and conducted archival research in the J. M. Barrie papers.

Matthew Harrington was accepted and funded in the Ph.D. program in English at Southern Illinois University- Carbondale

Lucas Marshall accepted a position as a Contract Medical Marketing Copywriter at WebToMed, a Schaumburg-based medical marketing firm.

Laura Winton presented papers at numerous conferences, including:  the English Graduate Organization Conference, Macomb;  Popular Culture Association in Albuquerque; the Graduate Research Conference, Macomb; Craft, Critique, Culture Conference in Iowa City; Radical Writes Conference in Cape Girardeau.  She won the Iron Pen Award for creative nonfiction from the Midwest Writing Center and she contributed zines and to a pubic exhibition called Spin Jam in Iowa City. She received the grant from Quad City Arts to start an online journal, and she served as president of IDEAS.


Alex Ayers (M. A. 2015) accepted a position as Writing Specialist at University of Illinois, Springfield.

Thomas Boyd (B.A. 2013)  is a Proofreader and Editor at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago, Il.

Hayleigh Covella (B. A. 2014) is Executive Assistant to the Rock Island County Administrator and a freelance writer for Radish.

Jacob Davis (B. A. 2007) is Area Social Media Manager at TGP Hospitality in Chicago, Il.

Charlie Davitt (B.A. 2015 ) was accepted into the graduate program in Counseling at DePaul University.

Elizabeth Geib (B. A. 2015 ) is finishing her first year of the M.A. in English at Purdue and will work in the Purdue Writing Lab next Fall.

Maggie Hammond (B. A. 2015) is a Corporate Recruiter at SelectQuote in Kansas City, MO.

Christina Holt (B.A. 2009) was accepted a fully funded position to teach and study in Western Washington University’s M.F.A program in Creative Writing program.

Christine Masters (M.A. 2010) Christine completed her Ph.D in Writing Studies at Purdue university, and she has accepted a tenure-track position at Frances Marion University in South Carolina.

Ashley Jones (B.A. 2012  and M.A. 2014) is an Editorial Apprentice for Prime Publishing in Northbrook, Il.

Veronica Popp (B.A. 2012 and M.A. 2015) was accepted to a PhD program at Texas Woman’s University with a fully funded GA-ship and a TWU Graduate Student Scholarship PhD award.

Rayvon Shelton (M.A. 2015), who wrote his MA thesis in film studies, is a social media strategist and content creator for a local park district in Chicago, IL.

Alex Mocaby (M.A. 2014) works as Service Desk Analyst at Intelliteach

Anjali Pattanayak (M.A. 2014) is Academic Enrichment Program Coordinator in the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs at the University of Wisconsin, Platteville.

Kevin Rach (M. A. 2010) is the Marketing Communications Manager at Officite in Naperville, Il.

Abigail Tichler (M.A. 2015) is a Content Architect at Clear Digital Media in Naperville, Il.

Hayley Zertuche (M. A. 2011) completed her Ph.D. at Clemson University. Her work focuses on nonhuman animal rhetorics, visual/digital rhetoric, continental philosophy, and new material theories and pedagogies. She is also an Assistant Director of First Year Composition.


Barbara Ashwood presented “Using Low-Stakes Creative Writing Assignments to Engage Students” at The Center for Innovation in Teaching and Research, Western Illinois University and was a panel member for “Jane Eyre Talk Back.” Panel Member. She also chaired the panel  “Narrative Play: Fact, Fiction, and Fantasy” for the EGO conference.

Neil Baird and former English department faculty member Bradley Dilger published “How Students Perceive Transitions: Dispositions and Transfer in Internships.” College Composition and Communication. He presented “Contextual and Individual Influences on Writing Transfer: Implications for WPAs” at the Council of Writing Program Administrators and “Diversifying Research Institutionally” at the Conference on College Composition and Communication. He also presented “Supporting Students Learning to Write in the Disciplines: Effective WID Course Design” at Center for Innovation in Teaching and Research Workshop.

David Banash and alumnus John Degregorio (M.A 2012) co-edited the issue and co-wrote the introduction for “The Aesthetics of Trash,” a  special issue of  NANO: New American Notes Online. 7 (2015). He  published “Hitchcock and the American Dream,” a review of Must We Kill the Thing We Love? Emersonian Perfectionism and the Films of Alfred Hitchcock by William Rothman in Screen 56.4 (2015). He also presented a talk entitled “Re-conceptualizing Vocation, Utility, and The Value of Liberal Arts Education” at Western’s first TEDx event.

Rebekah Buchanan published “The Moon Over Money” in Midwest Writing Center Newsletter;“Death in a Small Town,” in Winner Penny Fiction; “Money, Mississippi,” in Blotterature Literary Magazine; “There’s a Monster in My Closet,” Noctua Literary Magazine; “What’s In a Name,” Straylight Lit Mag “Dragons,” Aberration Labyrinth. She won round three of Penny Fiction Flash Fiction Writing Competition, won in poetry at Iron Pen Contest, Midwest Writing Center. She broadcast six radio essays on Tristates Public Radio, including “The Force Awakens a New Feminist Generation” and  “Heroism and Activism of Mamie-Till Mobley.” She presented “Collaboration in the Classroom: Preservice, Classroom, and Methods Teachers Teach (and Learn) Together” at the Conference on English Leadership (CEL); “Prison Writing as Social Activism” at the Conference on Community Writing; and “The Feminist Punk” at the Popular Culture Association-American Culture Association. Locally, she presented “Never Mind the Bollocks: Here’s the Sex Pistols (The first boy band)” at theMalpass Library Album Discussion Series.

Roberta Di Carmine Dr. Di Carmine was the speaker for the “Dinners and Conversation” event organized by the Sigma Tau Delta International Honors Society. Her talk was entitled “The Wish to Travel: Reflections on Experiencing the World through Traveling.” She also was the organizer and speaker at the “Writing Festival with High School Students,” for the Category: ‘Documenting the World Around You.’ She presented “Crime Films and Women’s Changing Roles in Society: the Case of American Television Crime Series The Killing” at the Women, Narrative and Crime conference in the UK. She presented “Gender and American Crime Television Series”  at the Midwest Popular Culture Association conference. She organized several screenings on campus, including “October Horror Month” and “The Film Trivia Nights,” and she advised the Film Club in many events, including screenings and talk by filmmakers.

Merrill Cole  gave a TEDx talk, was the featured reader at the Boiler Room Reading Series, and gave the Last Lecture. His poem, “Lex Talionis” was published by, and featured at, The Good Men Project in November. He organized the panel, Poetry & Revolution, and read a paper, “The Queer Event,” for the Modernist Studies Association Conference in Boston. He is currently under contract with Cambridge UP to contribute an essay on Jacques Lacan and queer theory for the collection, After Lacan. He is also engaged in a book project for Cambridge UP, “The New Love: Lesbian and Gay Modernist Poetry.”

Everett Hamner presented “Postsecular Imbrications of Religion and Science Fiction,” a response to “Heavens Above: Envisioning Religion in Science Fiction,” at the Forum on Religion and Literature, Modern Language Association.

Barbara Harroun continued her remarkable pace of publications, presentations, and awards. Her publications in poetry include, “Offerings,” Bloodstone Review; “Nicotine Dreams,” Hermeneutic Chaos Literary Journal; “River Stone,” Slip Stream; “The Fluidity of Love,” The Watershed Review; “Mirage,” Spelk; “Labor,” Empty Sink Publishing; “Here and Here,” HockTock; “Rapture,” The Sonder Review II; “You Are Here,” “Like Lazarus,” “Black Powder,” “Last Effect,” The Circus Book; “Driving Back From Iowa City, 1976,” New Madrid: Journal of Contemporary Literature; “Two Mornings,” “Something Salvaged,” “Wild Origins,”Emerge Literary Journal. Her publications in fiction include, “Carnival,” Iron Horse Literary Review; “A Lonely, Cold Place,” Rappahannock Review; “Back Roads,” Penny Fiction; “72 Hours: Part Three,” Text; “From Adam,” Fiction Southeast; “Feast,” “Composition of Tears,” Typewrite; “Premeditation,” The Long Leaf Pine; “The Town You Are Buried In,” Blink Ink; “Merging.” Foliate Oak Literary Magazine;“Going Home,” In-flight Literary Magazine; “Church Dance,” Postcard Poems and Prose; “72 Hours: Part Two.” Text; “Empty,” The Wardrobe; “The Anatomy of Love,” Rum Punch Press; “Into the World,” Eastern Iowa Review; “Accumulation,” Per Contra: An International Journal of the Arts, Literature, and Ideas; “72 Hours: Part One.” Text. Her nonfiction publications include “The Story Behind the Story,” Fiction Southeast;“McNabb, IL.” There’s This Place I Know (New Jersey: Serving House). She won the President’s Excellence in Diversity Leadership Award. Western Illinois University; Outstanding Large Student Organization, WIU Leadership Award for Unity; “Death’s Fabulous Remains” won the Pacifica Literary Review “Look and Leap” Contest; “Elvis Resurrected” won for Blotterature. She presented “Rectify: The ‘Resurrection’ of the Southern Gothic as Episodic Television” at Popular Culture Association National Conference. She presented “What Would de Tocqueville Say? How to Disrupt the Prison Pipeline,” with Rebekah Buchanan, Jim Ia Prad and Shaka Rawls at the Dealing With Differences Institute; “Veterans Voices: The Genesis and Development of a Literary Journal for the WIU Community,” with Jacque-Wilson-Jordan and Ryan Bronough at the Dealing With Differences Institute; “Veterans Voices: Stories of Combat and Peace,” with Dr. Jacque Wilson-Jordan, Brandon Mooney, and Ryan Bronough. Macomb Rotary Club; “Attempts at Integration and Activism,” Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Macomb; and “Writing Prompts: Writing Play,” at the English Graduate Organization Conference.

Magdelyn Helwig presented “Making It as a (Pre) Tenured Woman Writing Program Administrator: Using Collective Action to Transgress Gendered Boundaries” at Feminisms and Rhetorics in Tempe, Arizona; “Ephemeral Material: The Textuality of a Gallery Exhibition” at Convergences and Divergences: A Joint Conference of the Society for Textual Scholarship and the Association for Documentary Editing at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln; and “War Memoranda : Collaborating with Whitman 150 Years Later,” at the 26th Annual American Literature Association Conference, Boston. She won College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Teaching with Technology Faculty Award.

Tim Helwig presented a paper “George Lippard’s Literary Figuring of Charles Brockden Brown” at the American Literature Association Conference in San Francisco. He was also elected to serve a two-year term as Treasurer for the Research Society for American Periodicals, and continues to serve as the Midwestern Regent for Sigma Tau Delta International English Honor Society. Our local chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, which he advises, won the international Outstanding Chapter Award for 2015, and won the College of Arts & Sciences Departmental Organization Recognition Award for 2016.

Bill Knox presented “Perceptions of Honors, Accurate and Not: Building from the Best and the Rest” at Confluence and Conflict: Upper Midwest Regional Honors Council Conference, Minnesota State University-Mankato. He also presented “Workplace Writing,” a Clerical Staff Training Presentation for the Human Resources Division at Western.

Dan Malachuk published “Disinterestedness and Liberalism” in L. Behlman and A. Longmuir, eds., Victorian Literature: Criticism and Debates (New York: Routledge, 2016); “Liberalism” in D. Felluga, P. Gilbert, and L. Hughes, eds., The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Victorian Literature (Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2015). He reviewed William James and the Transatlantic Conversation: Pragmatism, Pluralism, & Philosophy of Religion, eds. Martin Halliwell and Joel D. S. Rasmussen (Oxford, 2014) for the Journal of American Studies 49.4 (2015). He presented “Lincoln and Emerson: Preparing the Public Mind” at the Center for American Studies, Universität Heidelberg, Germany. In 2015, he was the Max Kade Visiting Professor, Universität Heidelberg, Germany.

 Mark Mossman published “Academic Capitalism and the English MA” in The MA at Work, ed. Peggy Strain (NCTE, 2016).

Brenda Porter published “Grant Us Peace,” in Relief: A Christian Literary Expression 8.1.

Shazia Rahman visited Athens, Greece with her family in November 2015 where she enjoyed wandering through ancient ruins, exploring museums, and eating the most amazing olives! In January 2016, she presented “History, Violence, and Nationalism: Postcolonial Ecocriticism and Migratory Birds” at the 2016 MLA Convention in Austin, Texas. While in Austin, she not only listened to live music but also marched through downtown to protest campus carry with other faculty and students from the University of Texas.

Margaret Sinex published “Wounded by War; the Male Body in the Prose Tradition of The Children of Hurin” in Baptism of Fire: The Birth of the British Fantastic in World War I, ed. Janet Brennan Croft (Altadena CA.: Mythopoetic Press).  She presented “Nay, not Niniel”: the Wounded Psyche in the Prose Tradition of The Children of Hurin” at the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association Conference, New Orleans.

Jacque Wilson-Jordan presented a paper entitled “Veterans’ Voices: The Genesis and Development of a Literary Magazine for Western Illinois University Students and Alumni” at the Conference on Community Writing in Boulder, Colorado. published a piece of flash non-fiction called “The Wind” in *The Mulberry Fork Review* and a poem called “Washing Deborah’s Hair” for *The Fem.*   partnered with Neil Baird, Director of the Writing Center, and graduate student Elizabeth Wells to pilot a Writing Fellows program for English 100. and served on the committee to select the first NIU Schriber Scholar.

Alisha White  presented with undergraduate students Ashley Grady and Meghan Haupers at IATE (Illinois Association of Teachers of English) in the fall: “Exploring Diversity with Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe”  She also presented in another session at IATE, “Disrupting the ability binary: Interpreting YA Literature with Disability Studies” She also published “Teaching Disability Studies with Five Flavors of Dumb” English Journal, 106(6) and “‘It’s a Sad, Sad Story’: Teaching Emotional Connections and Tone in Literature” in The Educational Forum, 79 (3).