A Celebration of Writing

Lauren Williamson shows us her Spectrum Writing Award certificate.Saint Mary’s faculty and students gathered together recently to celebrate the campus' commitment to writing. Hosted by the Center for Writing Across the Curriculum and supported by the Collegiate Seminar and School of Liberal Arts, the Awards for Excellence in Writing honored the students whose essays will be published in The Undergraduate and Spectrum literary journals. Professor Tereza Kramer, Director of the Center for Writing Across the Curriculum, emceed the event and over saw the selection process for the journals. Professor Kramer describes the journals’ importance to Saint Mary’s, stating, “By publishing these journals we are elevating the importance of eloquence in writing on campus and illustrating the breadth and depth of writing. The journals directly fit with the Saint Mary’s mission, aligning with the College’s values of critical inquiry and quest for deeper knowledge.”

This year marks the twenty-fourth consecutive year of The Undergraduate, which celebrates exemplary writing within the Collegiate Seminar and was started and nurtured for twenty-two years by the Collegiate Seminar Program. Similarly, this will be the twenty-sixth year of Spectrum, which originated through and was fostered by the English Department for twenty-four years and celebrates writing excellence through out the curriculum. Both journals are now overseen by the Center for Writing Across the Curriculum, which handles the submission, judging, and revising processes of the journal competition and oversees the Communications 190 courses, which with faculty and students handle the publication of the journals.

A testament to the excellent writing of Saint Mary’s students, a record-breaking number of Honorable Mentions were awarded this year with eleven students receiving Spectrum Honorable Mentions and four students receiving Newman Honorable Mentions. Six students were honored with a Spectrum Award and will have their essays published in Spectrum, while five students received a Newman Award and will see their essays published in The Undergraduate. At Tuesday’s event, each writer in attendance was given a hearty round of applause in celebration of his or her accomplishment and the opportunity to speak to the writing process that produced the published work. Senior Michael O’Reilly ’14 who is bookending his college career with this distinction– his freshman year he submitted and was not chosen, but this senior year he received an Honorable Mention – describes the joyous feeling of the honor, stating, “It is really cool to be recognized for something you spent a lot of time on. It’s better than getting an A!” Sure enough, the journals are showing that writing does not just get a grade stamp; it gets whole journals and an event in its honor.

 Professor Marilyn Abildskov—three of whose students won awards and honorable mentions—describes her appreciation for the journals as well as the entire community’s commitment to writing, "I am in awe of these award-winning essays every year and I have deep admiration for the student writers and their clarity and creativity and ability to distill complex ideas. It's also worth noting that these essays are not the only ones deserving of recognition. Many essays that never see their way into print are similarly impressive. What I take away from these student publications is the reminder that writing waters at Saint Mary's College run very deep.” While the Awards for Excellence in Writing and the journals are specifically honoring certain essays, they are speaking to the greater importance writing has within Saint Mary’s College.

Honoring the professors who fostered the students, the faculty and peer judges who reviewed the submissions, the student and faculty working on the journals’ publication, and the writers themselves, the event highlighted the collaborative nature in which writing thrives.  While the event is over, the journals are still in the publication process and will be debuted next year. Professor Kramer encourages the greater use of the journals in classes and throughout the campus, explaining, “It is very powerful for students to see other students’ work. Perhaps they will be inspired to revise their essays one more time. After all, it is in revision that we learn how to write.” All Saint Mary’s students are encouraged to read the journals and be inspired by the wonderful words of their peers and to consider submitting their own work next year and to continue the College’s rich tradition of writing excellence.