First Celebration of Student Writing event held in Miller Education Center

Photo and Story by Connor Burnard / Contributing Writer

On Friday afternoon in the Miller Education Center on Bell Street, MTSU’s Lower Division English department held its first Celebration of Student Writing. The event, sponsored by the MTSU Department of English and MT Engage, included dozens of student displays and presentations of student writing from all levels of undergraduate English classes and awards for writing in general education English classes.

The event, led by Lower Division English Co-Directors Julie Barger and Kate Pantelides, was meant to draw attention on a large scale to the exceptional writing of students in undergraduate English classes and to allow students to showcase their work.

“The whole idea behind it is to give students an experience sharing their writing, sharing what they’re learning about writing or the research that they’re doing with people outside of that immediate classroom context. Hopefully, so they can understand that writing is more than just a class requirement, (and) that writing is an opportunity to connect with other people,” Barger said.

These chances for students to share what they learn and write is important for them to grow in their education, according to Pantelides.

“It’s important to have a conversation around writing because writing isn’t that useful if it just stays on the page. It needs to be discussed. It needs to be shared. It needs to be presented,” Pantelides said. “We have such amazing students doing exciting, different research, and not everyone around campus knows that that’s the case.”

The awards for general education writing were divided into one category each for English 1010 and English 1020 and a category for both English 2020 and 2030. Each category had a first, second and third place winner and an honorable mention.

For English 1010, first place went to Carson Brooks, second place to Corinne Burris, third place to William Otto Hartler and an honorable mention to Thomas Wood. For English 1020, first place went to Ashley Lavoie, second place to Andrew Weiss, third place to Ashley Baillard and an honorable mention to Amberlee Smith. For English 2020 and 2030, first place went to Jaylen Thomas, second place to Peri Watson, third place to Rosalie Gunger and honorable mentions to David Phillips and Corrie Wunder.

After the awards, four students from Jennifer Kates’s Fiction Writing class presented their flash fiction pieces, followed by four students from Kates’s Research and Argumentative Writing class presenting profiles on members or advocates of the Murfreesboro homeless community. Five students from Claudia Barnett’s Modern Drama class then presented plays that they had written.

In the atrium of the Miller Education Center were dozens of students with trifold project display boards about topics or organizations. The displays ranged from police brutality and domestic violence to music and campus clubs.

Research and Argumentative Writing students Asia Kirkland, Jackie Little and Destiny Wade worked together on a project about awareness for domestic violence.

“Domestic violence is a serious issue that doesn’t need to be covered up,” Kirkland said. “The only solution is to not hide the fact that somebody did something bad to somebody else, and that’s really it.”

Adam McInturff, an English professor at MTSU, had a table to give information to students about a club he sponsors called Sandbox.

“We’re a creators’ club, and that means that anything you want to create, we want to help you create that. Whether it’s web design or creative writing or music or poetry or the intersection of all of those things, that’s what Sandbox is about,” McInturff said. “Really what this club is based on is collaborative projects where you get different creative types coming together and reflecting on what that creative process means and what value they can offer each other.”

The Department of English hopes to hold the event annually and that this inauguration will be followed by another celebration next spring.

Follow Connor Burnard on Twitter at @connburn.

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