Lee University’s Dr. Kevin Brown and Dr. Katherine Carlson traveled with 11 students to Albuquerque, N.M., for the 91st Sigma Tau Delta International Convention, where the students presented their original creative and critical work.
"The convention provides our students one more opportunity to share their work with the larger discipline,” said Dr. Brown, professor of English at Lee. “They get to read their critical and creative works with undergraduate and graduate students from around the country, teaching and learning from their peers.”
The student presenters included Hannah Mae Atherton, Ashley Bonin, Jacqueline Campbell, Karen Chambless, Hannah Cole, Kathryn Healy, Melanie Kehrer, Jason Lawrence, Rachel Lesler, Amanda Seale and Kristen Ton.
“I was so grateful for the opportunity to travel to Albuquerque with our student presenters,” said Dr. Carlson, assistant professor of English at Lee. “All their work was well received, and our relationships deepened in that way that only travel can allow. It is a privilege to work with those 11, as well as with the many other students who daily step through the Vest building doors.”
The more than 800 students who attended the Sigma Tau Delta International Convention were accepted by a panel of judges to present their critical or creative work, and the students traveled from throughout the United States and the world to attend. Works presented at the convention were then eligible for awards to be presented on the last night of the event.
Each year, the international convention operates under a theme which organizes the speakers and events into a cohesive experience while allowing a wide range for student work and a nod to the location of the convention. This year, the theme of the convention was “Borderlands and Enchantments,” a theme which was chosen for a host of reasons: New Mexico is a borderland, New Mexico’s moniker is “The Land of Enchantment,” and the ideas of borders and enchantment can be explored in both critical and creative work in various ways.
In addition to paper presentations, the convention also featured round table discussions and featured speakers, including Simon Ortiz, the author of this year’s common reader “From Sand Creek.” The common reader is a book which has been chosen based on its exemplification of the convention theme to be a piece which is read by the convention attendees.
Mr. Ortiz was born and raised a short distance from Albuquerque at the Acoma Pueblo. He is particularly able to speak to the notion of borderlands, margins, and the in-between, and he explores man’s alienation—from others, himself, and his environment—in his poetry as well as the possibility of reconnection through nature and the wisdom of ancestry.
Lee’s chapter of Sigma Tau Delta is one of the most active chapters in the Southern Region. They host an annual symposium, organize monthly events, induct new members every semester, and have attended 11 of the past 12 conventions. This year they were named one of three Outstanding Chapters in the organization, receiving a plaque, an award of $500, and funding to assist with the expenses accrued while traveling to the convention.
“Winning the Outstanding Chapter Award is one of the highlights of my time as a Sigma Tau Delta sponsor,” said Dr. Brown. “This award does not just reflect the work of the past year or two, but the more than two decades of solid work professors and students before us have done. Few Sigma Tau Delta chapters ever receive this award, so our students and faculty should be proud of their work.”
Dr. Brown currently serves as the regent for the Southern Region while Karen Chambless, a third-year English major at Lee, serves as the student representative. This is the first time that Lee has been represented in either position.
"This was my first convention as Southern Regent, and it was great to see the results of so much hard work over the year,” said Dr. Brown. “I was able to meet sponsors and students I had spoken to via email throughout the year and help them do work in their schools they wouldn’t have been able to do otherwise.”
Prior to and during the convention, Dr. Brown and Ms. Chambless attended board meetings and committee meetings on scholarships, service, and membership. Dr. Brown also led the Southern Region Network Meeting as well as the Southern Regional Caucus. Ms. Chambless, who is part of a student leadership committee composed of the student advisors and six student representatives, also attended the student leadership committee meeting and a membership development committee meeting. She helped to lead the “Future Leadership Development” session in the student leadership workshops and helped two other student representatives head up a new project led by the student leadership committee called Humans of Sigma Tau Delta, a project patterned after the popular Humans of New York project by photographer Brandon Stanton.
“I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to represent Lee and the entire Southern Region,” said Ms. Chambless. “Sigma Tau Delta has given me some great opportunities to develop leadership skills and make strong friendships while seeing what my peers in the discipline all over the world are doing.”
Sigma Tau Delta is an international collegiate English honor society and one of the largest members of the Association of College Honor Societies. The organization was established in 1924 to recognize achievement in English language, literature, and writing. The society is exclusive to four-year colleges and universities and has over 9,000 members in the 850 active chapters in the United States and abroad.
For more information about Sigma Tau Delta or the 2015 international convention, visit www.english.org.