English Conference

Sigma Tau Delta attends international conference

by Nathana Faddis

Sigma Tau Delta Conference
The goals to “serve society by fostering literacy” and to encourage “good fellowship among its members” is part of the purpose of Sigma Tau Delta English Society. Seven York College students and five faculty and staff members hit the road last Wednesday for Minneapolis, MN, as a part of their commitment to those very strivings. Their eight hour drive brought them to the Hyatt Regency, the location of the 2009 National Conference.  The conference kicked off on Wednesday evening and ran through Saturday.

Sigma Tau Delta is an International English Honor Society, established in 1924 for English students earning their undergraduate and graduate degrees. There are over 760 active chapters, 1,100 faculty sponsors, and each year, close to 8,500 new student members are inducted. York College’s Sigma Tau Delta chapter, Alpha Gamma Upsilon, established in 1993, contains seven active members.  During the organization’s years on campus this is the third conference YC students have attended, not to mention having published six annual issues of student writings called “Unvarnished Words.”

The theme for this year’s conference was “Reflections”. It referred to the many rivers and lakes of Minnesota, as well as reflecting on the individual and his or her place in society; it was meant to inspire meditation and contemplation. There were 13 sessions offered during the conference, divided into different topics such as Creative Nonfiction - Locations and Jane Austen. Professors Beverly McNeese, Kent Ross, Summer Dickinson and Tim McNeese each moderated two sessions as faculty. These sessions allowed York College students the opportunity to learn, ask questions, and be inspired through formal presentations of academic work. It also challenged the students presenting to grow as writers and in their knowledge of conference etiquette.

YC student and short story presenter, Sarah Stoutzenberger, says: “My experience at the convention was wonderful. Their questions challenged me to think about my writing style and even the reason that I write. It was really interesting to hear what other writers were concerned with and what was truly popular in society and why. The conference made me more open to sharing my works with others.  It also forced me to be more thoughtful and conscientious when writing.”  YC student Natasha Hackett presented a collection of poems and a short story at the conference as well.

There were four keynote speakers at the conference. The first speaker was Chris Crutcher, author of novels Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes and Chinese Handcuffs. The second was Alexandra Fuller, author of Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood; the third author, Neil Gaiman, winner of the John Newbery Medal Award and author of the popular books, Stardust and Caroline. The final author to speak was Michael Perry, who is also a humorist and musician. Some of his more well-known works are Population 485: Meeting Your Neighbors One Siren at a Time and Truck: A Love Story.

YC student Kirsten Clements says of her experiences at the conference: “I've always enjoyed reading or hearing what writers' imaginations create.  Being surrounded by other writers' ideas gets my mind thinking about how I would approach a certain subject matter or genre. I also felt challenged to read and write more... to make it a priority in my everyday life, so that I can be more familiar with what the presenters and other attendees incorporate into their writing and discussion.”

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