May 6, 2020
Awards, Undergraduate

Celeste M. and John F. Loughman Memorial Scholarship Winners:

Syki Barbee

Syki Barbee ('21) is a first generation transfer student who is pursuing a certificate in professional writing and technical communication and a letter of specialization in creative writing. She also serves as a fiction editor for Jabberwocky, the undergraduate journal in creative writing.

Jordan, Cassandra

Jordan, Cassandra ('21) is a double major in English and Human Rights and the Media. Cassandra interned at MASSPIRG, helping register students to vote during the 2018 midterm elections is currently interning with the U.S. State Department at the US Embassy in Riga, Latvia. She plans to get a Master’s degree in International Relations and work as a Foreign Service Officer, promoting human rights and diplomacy.

Thorp, Ian

Thorp, Ian ('21) originally enrolled in computer engineering but came to realize that English and writing related skills were more appealing. Ian has a strong interest in math and reading, and is pursuing the certificate program in professional writing and technical communication to help prepare him for a career in technical writing, a path that blends both interests.

Roch, Shannon

Roch, Shannon ('21) is a transfer student who earned her Associates Degree from Greenfield Community College. She entered as an English major because she loves to read and write and plans to continue her education with a Masters in Library Science. She volunteers regularly at Leverett library.

Mary McGarry Morris and Margaret McGarry Chiriaco Scholarship Winner:

Danyea West

Danyea West ('21) is minoring in Political Science and is part of Commonwealth College She is also pursuing two specializations within the English department: professional writing and technical communication, and the study and practice of writing. Among Danyea's extracurricular activities: she serves as a tour guide for the Robsham Memorial Center for Visitors, is a representative for Student Admissions, tutors at the Writing Center in our library, and serves as a general body member of the Student Alumni Association.

Frank Prentice Rand Scholarship in English Winner:

Isabelle Giuttari

Isabelle Giuttari ('21) is a double major in English and Theater and a member of Commonwealth College. Her area of interest in the major is early modern literature and creative writing, which has led her to pursue a letter of specialization in ceative writing. Isabelle works at the Fine Arts Center as an office assistant and seves as the Senior Vice President of the Mock Trial Team.

General John A. and Evangeline W. Maginnis Scholarship Winners:

Abigail Cicerchia

Abigail Cicerchia ('20) transferred to UMass at the start of her junior year after graduating with an Associates Degree in Creative Writing from Holyoke Community College. Her time at UMass has led her to internships that focused on social media networking, column writing, and childhood development. When not on campus, Abigail teaches ballet at various local studios and volunteers for charities that help children in the foster care system. When Abigal graduates, she will be the first in her family to have earned a Bachelors’s Degree.

Vanan Phan

Vanan Phan ('21) is pursuing letters of specialization in Creative Writing, Professional Writing and Technical Communication, and the Study and Practice of Writing. She has worked on multiple literary teams such as jubilat, Paperbark, and Jabberwocky. When she isn’t daydreaming or accidently walking into walls, she can be found reading anything she can find or eating extreme amounts of Milano cookies. After graduation, she hopes to be able to work as a technical writer and in the publishing industry.

Cleo Zoukis Ploussious Scholarship Winner:

Victoria Vazquez

Victoria Vazquez ('21) is a double major in English and Anthropology. You can often find Victoria at the Stonewall Center, the LGBTQIA+ support center on campus, where they have worked for two years. They love creating spaces where other queer and transgender students of color can find community and support on campus. In addition to the Stonewall Center, Victoria works as a research assistant in a lab studying menopause and hot flashes in the Anthropology Department. They are excited about the opportunity to conduct groundbreaking research with the lab’s research team. When they are not working, they spend their time writing poetry and exploring Western Massachusetts with their friends.

W Scott Jeffery Award winner:

Sarah Manlove

Sarah Manlove ('20) is graduating with a degree in Informatics with a certificate in professional writing and technical communication. During her time at UMass, she worked as a Peer Mentor with Residential Life and organized hackathon events for women and non-binary students interested in learning more about technology. Post-graduation, Sarah is joining Optum as a Technology Development Program Associate in their Boston office.

English Department Essay Prizes

Sanderson Prize winner:
(faculty readers Janis Greve and Janine Solberg)

Claire Harrison

Claire Harrison
The judges found "Tastes like 'Chicken': The Role of Synesthesia in Bitter in the Mouth" (PDF)" to be an astute and layered discussion about linguistic synesthesia and its varied meanings in the novel. Engaging and incisively written, the essay explores synesthesia as an allegory for racial othering and a vehicle for exploring the limitations of language. The judges were impressed with how the discussion converged around fresh ideas about language as belief and respect for difference rather than mutual identification.

Steinbugler Prize co-winners:
(faculty readers Stephen Harris and Sarah Patterson)

Jordan Leonard

Jordan Leonard: A careful and considered examination of Austen's use of rural and country settings that work to delineate class distinctions. The author asks whether settings imply anything about a character's morality. Focusing on particular scenes in Mansfield Park and Persuasion, the author suggests that Britain's contemporary economy and foreign entanglements prevent any moral disambiguation of socially ambitious characters. I was especially impressed that the author was able to identify not merely the fact of moral ambiguity, but also its contours, degrees, and social manifestations.  “We Do Not Look in Great Cities For Our Best Morality” : Urban Perspectives in Mansfield Park
and Persuasion (PDF)

Natalee Marini

Natalee Marini: In an analysis of Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye, the author raises issues surrounding trauma, victimhood and rape in the context of urban poverty. The essay examines the implications associated with the rape of a young and thoughtful Pecola Breedlove. Namely, the author deconstructs the history of Pecola's abuser and father, Cholly through a victim-to-antagonist framework. The readings denounce the act of rape while also allowing readers to trace the complex impact of emotional and physical violence on multiple generations within one African American family. Written with vivid language and sensitivity, the essay grapples with the relationship between girlhood, trauma and systemic racism. "The Victimization of Antagonists in The Bluest Eye" (PDF)

Charles A. Peters Prize winner:
(faculty readers Joe Black and Adam Zucker)

Isabelle Giuttari

Isabelle Giuttari: "Broken Tongues: Tracing the Literalization of Language and Violence in Act 5, Scene 2 of Henry V" (PDF). The essay offers a sophisticated analysis of Shakespeare's use of the French language in the history play Henry V, drawing on early modern primary sources, including dictionaries from the period, to show the extent to which a conversation employing two languages can be read as a continuation of warfare by other means. The essay is exceptionally well researched, skillfully argued, and written with a fine sense of style.

1940 Creative Writing Prize Winners:


Samuel Edge

Samuel Edge wrote the 1940 creative writing prize in fiction, "Change." (PDF) In Samuel Edge's post-apocalyptic parable, the main character, Ralph, barely survives a flaming car crash, suffers stinging guilt for an unknown act, and bloody, seriously injured, alone on a barren beach, he finds comfort in a flask. Then he encounters a young girl flying a kite with a slash through it, resonating with the gash in Ralph's head. The symbolic kite falls to the ground, and Ralph comforts the girl. In a moment of redemption, dying, he empties the flask and revels in the girl's affectionate gaze. A story that speaks to our current bleakness, it summons hope through human connection. A moving tribute to an ethic of care.

Victoria Vazquez

Victoria Vazquez wrote the winning submission for 1940 creative writing prize for poetry (PDF). Victoria Vazquez's poetry bursts with surprising imagery and metaphors, navigating junctures and disjunctures: It deftly joins the mundane (cigarette butts stuck in the ice, or "grass bathed/in smog dewdrops") with almost-mythical metamorphoses between the human and the material world (in "The city did not smoke ecigs in 1995"). It conjures details of the migrant experience of a Latinx family in the urban landscape of not-yet gentrified Bucktown in Chicago, along with a momentous sense of displacement (from all the ancestral Victorias, in "Anthropology of a People") and profound cultural connection (with the foodways sustained by the grandmother in "Los Gandules de Verdad"). An arresting expression of versatility and emotional gravity.