2019 Sigma Tau Delta Conference in St. Louis

The Phi Delta chapter of Sigma Tau Delta had a strong presence at this year’s conference. We got to learn, share, and experience so much! This year, six students and two faculty members made the trek to St. Louis to share in the academia, sightseeing, and general celebration of nerdiness. Below are details about each student’s participation in the conference. 

Kaylee Gunding

Gundling made a name for herself at this conference. She presented her creative piece “Director’s Cut (Abridged)” at the Fiction: The Americans panel (even though her story does not mention America and is not necessarily set there). Once the session had wrapped up, Gundling was approached by multiple persons hungry for more information. Aside from this professional presentation, Gundling shared poetry at Open Mic Night and the annual Mega Chapter Unofficial Poetry Night, but she also had a moment of infamy that earned her not one, but two awards. Each year, the conference presents Bad Poetry Night, a competition to come up with the most ridiculous, hilarious, and outrageous poetry you can. Gundling’s piece won first place in the category “Worst Bad Poem” as well as the memorable Bill Johnson Award, which is presented to the poet who drives Sigma Tau Delta Executive Director William C. Johnson out of the room. This same poem became a meme for both WIU students and various other attendees of the conference.

Desiree Steele

Steele unlocked several achievements on this trip, from presenting a stimulating paper to rocking Bad Poetry, to killing it at networking. During the Digital Media panel on Saturday afternoon, Steele presented her paper “Gender & Sexuality in The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.” Before the panel began, Steele was chatting with her panelmates, laughing, and shaking off her nerves. Earlier in the conference, she was approached by another attendee to discuss the possibility of publishing her piece in a Legend of Zelda essay anthology. Steele also presented at Bad Poetry Night, and was approached and complimented for her piece, “White Fluids.” Blending comedy and social critique with classic Steele flair, the piece compared the portions of the white population to mayonnaise. 

Apryl Moore

Apryl “Pryl” Moore engaged with the organization on multiple levels at this conference. Bright and early at 8:00 AM on Friday morning, Moore presented “The Sadomasochism and Meaning of Addie Bundren” at the Southern Gothic panel. True to her persistent spirit, the early hour had no apparent effect on Moore’s ability to share her paper and field questions with professional poise. In addition to presenting, Moore assisted at the registration table and attended various conference events with our chapter advisor, Dr. Timothy Helwig. These events were related to Moore’s endeavor of running for the position of Student Representative for the Midwestern Chapter. At the Midwestern Regional Caucus, Moore was unanimously voted in as our new representative. Congratulations and thank you in advance for your service, Ms. Moore!

Emma Dayhoff

Almost never seen without her iconic leather jacket, Dayhoff not only shared her writing at this national event, but was also arguably the MVP of a particular chapter outing. Presenting at the Creative Non-Fiction: Love and Other Stories panel, Dayhoff read “Life Got in the Way.” As for her MVP status, Dayhoff demonstrated a remarkable quantity of patience. After a chapter dinner outing, a few members came upon a rolled ice cream shop and enthusiastically went inside. Dayhoff remained to await their return with the Drs. Helwig. To the distress of the ice cream-seekers, the line was slow moving, as rolled ice cream is not only a treat, but a process to make. The supervising professors had a meeting to make and notified those inside the shop that they were leaving them in Dayhoff’s capable hands. Knowing that all inside the shop were adults and could probably find their way back to the hotel, Dayhoff could have left. But, she did not. Instead, she endured the wait, perched on the curb and helped her fellow Sigma Tau Delta students back to the Hilton. Thank you Ms. Dayhoff, you really were an MVP that night. 

Gayla “Nell” Bean

Bringing energy and an abundance of smiles to the trip, Bean volunteered throughout the conference. One of her duties was working the registration table, assisting other attendees in registering their presence at the conference as well as handing out ID lanyards, gala tickets, conference programs, and information. In addition, Bean chaired for the Fiction: The Americans creative writing panel on Thursday afternoon. Bean opened the panel, introduced the speakers, and facilitated the flow of the session. 

Courtney Bender

Coming along on the trip as a driver/general assistant/guest, Bender wore several unofficial hats. She attended panels, took photos of her peers presenting, read “Driving in St. Louis” at Bad Poetry Night, and shared a poem at the Mega Chapter poetry reading. She assisted a peer in the process of procuring a suitable outfit the Red & Black Gala ahead of the conference. She actively asked questions at nearly every panel she attended. She eagerly drank in the papers and creative pieces being shared. While she did not personally present at the conference, Bender paid close attention to the goings-on, in order to write the best piece she could to cover the event for The Mirror & the Lamp.