The University of Dallas will be sending seven English majors in the Sigma Tau Delta English International Honor Society to the 2016 Sigma Tau Delta Convention in Minneapolis, Minn.
Seniors Keelin des Rosiers, Gracie Smart, Ann Kuehl, Kate Gapp, Teresa Blackman, Annie Ryland and junior Molly Wierman submitted works to the convention that were accepted for presentation at the conference, which will take place March 2-5.
Senior English major Riley Roberts was invited to read selections from her poetry but cannot attend because of a scheduling conflict.
Each year, Sigma Tau Delta members from over 800 chapters worldwide are invited to a conference where renowned scholars present a variety of literary and writing topics.
UD students attending the conference will be reading scholarly papers aloud to an audience.
“The six seniors and one junior attending from UD will exhibit the excellence of our literature program and learn about the range of critical approaches taken by other young scholars from across the country and abroad,” English professor Dr. Andrew Osborn said.
Dr. Osborn is faculty advisor in place of Dr. Eileen Gregory, who is on sabbatical this semester.
He will be attending the conference as interim faculty advisor.
As advisor, part of his job is preparing the students for their presentations.
“Before the seven students head north to Minneapolis, we’ll convene for a paper-delivery practice, at which each student will briefly introduce her paper then read it aloud before an audience,” Osborn said. “As it turned out, most of the English majors who had papers accepted for the annual international conference had written those papers for one of my courses, so I could readily advise them regarding how, for example, to apply for UD Experience Award funding to attend the conference.”
Smart and des Rosiers, who have been members of Sigma Tau Delta since 2014, look forward to their first conference and hearing new ideas from international scholars.
“I’m looking forward to listening to those presentations and hopefully gaining insights into English language and literature which I have not considered before,” des Rosiers said.
Des Rosiers, who is president of UD’s Sigma Tau Delta chapter, is also looking forward to the oral presentations and possibly hearing a unique point of view.
“I’m really looking forward to hearing my fellow students’ panels and really learning from the perspectives of all the students across the country,” des Rosiers said. “It’s going to be a really neat experience.”
Smart is also excited to bond with her fellow Sigma Tau Delta members.
Sigma Tau Delta was established in 1924 to celebrate achievement in higher education in the fields of English literature, language and writing.
Students who exhibit excellent academic pursuits in English and meet high entrance standards are invited to be enrolled.
Des Rosiers believes the society reminds members of the tragically overlooked beauty of their own native language.
“I think the purpose of Sigma Tau Delta is to foster a love and appreciation for the English language and literature,” des Rosiers said. “English is the language we all grow up speaking, and it’s so easy to take it for granted. Sigma Tau Delta helps us form an appreciation for how our very own maternal language is used in so many different and unique ways.”
Smart agreed, saying the goal of Sigma Tau Delta is threefold.
“The purpose of Sigma Tau Delta is to promote a love for English language and literature, to acknowledge the importance of academic excellence and to encourage people to continuously expand their knowledge of English through their study and their work,” Smart said.
The theme of this year’s event is “Finding Home” and will include award-winning novelist Charles Baxter, author of “The Soul Thief” and “The Feast of Love,” as a keynote speaker.
Famous memoirist Kao Kalia Yang, author of “The Latehomecomer: A Hmong Family Memoir,” is also delivering a keynote address.
Her memoir has won several international awards.
Like Smart and des Rosiers, Dr. Osborn has not yet attended a Sigma Tau Delta conference, but he expects a great experience, as a good friend from his Ph.D. program at the University of Texas at Austin is the convention chair.