Students and Professor Participate in International English Conference in Oregon

At the Sigma Tau Delta annual conference are, from left, Felicia Carlini, Kimberly Nania, Jennifer Sant Anna, Christina Lee and Deanna Stocker.

News Story: April 24, 2013

FAIRFIELD, Conn. – Several Sacred Heart University students and their English professor, Pamela Buck, descended on Portland, Ore., in late March to attend the prestigious English honor society Sigma Tau Delta’s annual conference. The academic symposium served as an opportunity to present some of the works they have developed over the last semester and to engage in an intellectual discourse with peers from around the country.

The theme of this year’s conference was “Open Book,” and Portland was an appropriate backdrop for the conference as it has been a literary hub and inspiration for scores of writers and authors over the years. Sacred Heart students from Sigma Tau Delta make a yearly pilgrimage to attend the honor society’s conference.

To present a paper at the conference, the students had to submit their work for vetting by a committee. The works presented by the four SHU attendees came out of Buck’s postcolonial women writers course, which examines issues surrounding women’s political and cultural independence in countries formerly colonized by Britain.

“The conference allows students to take work they’ve written for classes and present and receive feedback on it from an interested audience; it also allows them to hear talks by accomplished writers and academics on a subject they care about,” said Buck, who is one of the honor’s society’s academic advisers. “Finally, the conference has workshops on practical matters, such as good careers for writers or how to teach young adult books in the secondary education classroom, which students have told me they find useful.” She noted that Ursula K. LeGuin, the conference’s keynote speaker, was a writer who her students were particularly interested in seeing. Professor Michelle Loris is also an adviser to the group.

The student attendees consider themselves a group “who have a passion for words.” An international organization, Sigma Tau Delta, honors students who have achieved levels of high academic excellence in the study of the English language and literature. “It honors students for their achievements and opens up opportunities, such as internships, study abroad and chances to present and publish their work,” said Buck, who has been at Sacred Heart since 2010. “These opportunities offer the kind of active learning experiences that we work to promote at Sacred Heart. In turn, they make students more competitive for the jobs and graduate programs in which they’re interested and also spark the desire to continue learning in and contributing to the field.”

For Deanna Stocker, a senior from Mystic, the opportunity to attend the conference and present her poetry was a chance to step away from the “academic bubble” and learn from peers what they’re exploring in the literary and writing world. “It provides us a chance to grow and connect,” said Stocker, who will attend Yale Divinity School in the fall.

Felicia Carlini, another senior, echoed Stocker’s remarks about the academic enhancement the conference offered. “The conference itself provides a number of opportunities for further learning, such as sessions about the different professions one can pursue with a bachelor’s in English and various sessions with published authors. Such discussions with authors allow for the opportunity to engage in a constructive conversation with another writer and expand our knowledge of the subject matter,” said Carlini who hails from Trumbull.

Carlini called the sessions intellectually stimulating, useful and fun. “Attending the conference gave me a lot of experience that I will use in graduate school, including the confidence to share my academic work with an audience,” said Carlini, who presented a paper on Oppressed Individuals’ Struggle for Control. “It also allowed me to travel to a place I have never been to before, and I was able to have the amazing opportunity to share my work with my peers and hear about their interesting, innovative work. Overall, it was a fun learning experience.”

Other presenters at the conference from Sacred Heart University included Kim Nania ’13, from Stratford, and Jennifer Sant Anna of Montville, N.J. Christine Lee ’13 of White Plains, N.Y., served as a student moderator.