A group of Freed-Hardeman English students recently attended the 2011 Sigma Tau Delta English Convention. A record number of students submitted work this year, and more than 1000 other English honor society members traveled to Pittsburgh, Penn., for the convention. The convention began Wednesday, March 23, 2011 and ended Saturday, March 26, 2011.
Kayla Carnagie, senior English major from Fort Worth, Tex., and Thomas Vick, a senior communication major from Indianapolis, Ind., each presented a paper in the category, “Critical 20th/21st Century American Literature” written for an FHU English class and inspired by a conversation with a friend. Allie Martin, senior English major from Killen, Ala., participated as a session chair for two sessions.
Casey Wetherington, senior from Schertz, Texas, presented an original fiction piece titled "Snapshots" inspired by a conversation with a friend. Derrick Spradlin, an FHU English professor, accompanied the group as the chapter sponsor.
Alpha Omicron Tau, FHU’s chapter of Sigma Tau Delta, is comprised of thirteen students. The organization is sponsored by Spradlin and led by five student officers, including Carnagie as the vice president. Members must have completed three semesters and have at least a 3.4 GPA in English courses and an overall 3.2 GPA.
Submissions for the convention were required to have fewer than 2,000 words. Papers were categorized as critical essay, original drama, original fiction, original poetry, or creative nonfiction. They were judged by merit in three categories: content, organization and purpose; style, originality and voice; and grammar, punctuation and mechanics. At the convention, the presenters were given a timeslot of 8-15 minutes with a question and answer section following.
In addition to their own sessions, the attendees could also listen to other student sessions throughout the day. Members of the Sigma Tau Delta Student Leadership gave panel presentations Thursday morning, and several caucuses allowed students to meet fellow English majors from across the country. Each night a prominent writer spoke on his own experience with writing. Wednesday night featured Jacqueline Woodson; Thursday night, Lorene Care; Friday, Kay Ryan; and Saturday, Dave Eggers.
This was Spradlin’s second year to take FHU students to the convention, and he has witnessed the importance such conferences have for students. He said, “The Sigma Tau Delta Convention provides a chance for undergraduates in the language and literature department to present their original work to a group of their peers.”
Weatherington reported that he greatly enjoyed his first Sigma Tau Delta English Convention. “The trip to Pittsburgh was one of the best experiences I've had. The convention itself was great and left me with a sense of community among English majors that I just hadn't fathomed before,” he said.