Seven students from Indiana University East to the 2015 Sigma Tau Delta International Convention held March 21 in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
IU East students attending the conference were Emily O’Brien, Richmond, Ind., chapter president; Chase Eversole, Connersville, Ind., past president; Kaylyn Flora, Richmond, Ind., vice president; Katie Yohey, Richmond, Ind., secretary; Caleb Warner, Centerville, Ind.; Lindsey Dirksen, Arcanum, Ohio; and Coty Barrett, Connersville, Ind.
During the convention, students participated in workshops focused on student leadership and creative writing and attended readings by famous Native American writers Simon Ortiz and Leslie Marmon Silko. Last fall, in anticipation of the theme and speakers of the 2015 convention, several students read and participated in a roundtable discussion and film viewing and discussion on Native Americans led by Assistant Professor of History Justin Carroll who teaches Native American history at IU East.
Dirksen said the convention was an “absolutely amazing experience for me, both as a student and as a person.” She added hearing the keynote speeches from some famous and prevalent Native American authors like Simon Ortiz, and the experience of getting to meet the authors, was something that she will never forget.
Students presented their own critical and creative writing at the convention. Eversole and Barrett were selected to give readings of their creative writing, and Yohey, Flora, and Warner also participated in open mic readings of their creative work. During the literary criticism sessions, O’Brien, Eversole, Yohey, and Dirksen delivered research papers on a diverse group of writers and texts.
“Something even more than that was actually getting to present one of my own papers at a national convention, as letting others hear my work was an experience that I am so happy that I now have. As a student who loves literature, it was really incredible to travel to another place full of other students from across with the same interests as me, and to get to hear these speakers and attend workshops with students to whom it meant so much,” Dirksen said.
Eversole’s poem, “Rustbelt I,” will be published in the Sigma Tau Delta Rectangle, a highly competitive journal published annually in April.
Assistant Professor of English Steven Petersheim is the faculty advisor for Sigma Tau Delta at IU East. He said the English Honors Society convention allows students to develop their professional skills and pursue their passions with others who inspire them and are interested in hearing from them.
“After observing the enthusiasm generated for English studies by last year’s trip to Savannah, I quickly realized that this trip contributed much more to the energy, productivity, and professional development of our students than I had anticipated. It is now a priority for the IU East chapter of Sigma Tau Delta and the English department alike,” Petersheim said.
Aside from the convention, students had the opportunity to explore Albuquerque and to learn about its culture. Students visited local museums, dinned at restaurants and walked by the Rio Grande River.
“We also got to explore the ‘oldtown’ of the city and go to many of the different shops, and even explored a rattlesnake museum with dozens of real live rattlesnakes. My time spent outside of the convention was just as amazing as the time I spent participating in the events within the hotel, and overall it was a better trip than I could have ever imagined I know that I gained so much knowledge from this convention, and a new understanding of other cultures by spending time in Albuquerque. I am glad that I have participated in something bigger than myself, I would not have traded the experience for anything,” Dirksen said.
Warner said attending the conference provided an opportunity to meet other people from universities and colleges statewide who share his passion for reading and writing. He said his favorite part of the convention was participating in a creative writing workshop with Micah Hicks, and that working with a published author who writes in the same genre was fantastic.
“The lessons I learned at that workshop will continue to impact my writing for the rest of my life,” Warner said. “As for outside the convention, getting to explore the Old Town district in Albuquerque was a blast because I got to see a way of life unique to the southwestern portion of the United States. Before going to this convention, I had never been further west than Chicago. Getting to explore a new landscape, along with this fantastic convention, was an incredible event in my life that I won’t soon forget. Overall, going to this convention reinvigorated my desire to continue studying literature and write creatively.”
IU East students with an interest in English studies are invited to join Sigma Tau Delta, the student organization is open to qualifying minors or English Education students as well as majors. Students should contact Steven Petersheim at email@example.com or stop by his office, located in Whitewater Hall room 277.